According to the Oilers’ Twitter account, Mikko Koskinen has officially signed a one-year contract with the team that will see him return to North America after wrapping up a stellar season in the KHL.
While rumours initially circled the Twittersphere that Koskinen would be signing a multi-year deal, the official word tells a different story. With a one-year contract now in his pocket, the Finnish netminder will have a season to prove himself and try to carve out a spot for himself with the Oilers, beating out Al Montoya for the backup spot with the club.
Koskinen, a former second-round pick with the Islanders in 2009, spent the last five seasons in the KHL after heading back to Europe with only four NHL games on his resume. In 31 regular season games played with St. Petersburg SKA last season, Koskinen posted a very nice .931 save percentage to go along with a 1.69 GAA. Now, while those numbers are certainly impressive it will remain to be seen how that will translate in the NHL. Remember, Anders Nilsson was also a top KHL goaltender the year before he returned to the NHL after registering a splendid .936 save percentage in 38 games played.
So who is Mikko Koskinen? Cam Lewis took a look at the gigantic goaltender when rumours first started to surface that the Oilers were leading contenders to sign him:
Koskinen was originally drafted by the New York Islanders with the 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft. He would eventually play four games with the Islanders during the 2010-11 season, posting a forgettable .873 save percentage. He would play three games in North America in 2011-12 before heading back to Europe and fading into oblivion.
But, over the past couple years, Koskinen has made a name for himself as one of the top goalies in the KHL. This year has really been Koskinen’s breakout season. He posted a .931 save percentage in 31 games for SKA St. Petersburg, who are currently in the league’s Conference Finals. Beyond that, he also capitalized on NHL players not being in the Olympics, posting a .932 save percentage in five games in Pyeongchang for Finland.
Last week, Jason Gregor received a text from a scout that said, “he was a lot more controlled and stable this season. He doesn’t sprawl around like he did in the past.” At face value, that sounds positive and when combined with his recent KHL success it looks like the Oilers made a reasonable bet, but we still don’t know what the cap hit will be and also what he can do in the NHL.
According to Pierre LeBrun, Koskinen’s deal is worth $2.5 million with a $2 million salary and a $500K signing bonus.
From where I blog, signing Mikko Koskinen after a lights-out season in the KHL makes sense for a team looking for upgrades in net. That said, let’s not pretend that the KHL is even a five-dollar cab ride away from the NHL in terms of overall skill so I think it’s unreasonable to expect the same level of success in Edmonton as he got in St. Petersburg. Like I said before, we’ve seen this movie play out with Anders Nilsson before and while I hope things work out differently with Koskinen, we don’t know what will happen until the guy starts getting some at-bats. Here’s hoping the guy can come in and stand on his head and make all of this “unproven” talk go away, but until we get to October all we can do is guess. All the best, Mikko. Do the hockey, buddy.
What do you guys think? Do you like the signing? Let me know in the comments section.
KOSKINEN’S KHL CAREER
|2014-15||St. Petersburg SKA||KHL||21||1270||40||1||1.89||9||8||2||506||0.927|
|2015-16||St. Petersburg SKA||KHL||41||2379||96||3||2.42||20||18||1034||0.915|
|2016-17||St. Petersburg SKA||KHL||23||1387||48||3||2.08||14||6||3||524||0.916|
|2017-18||St. Petersburg SKA||KHL||31||1845||52||5||1.69||24||4||1||703||0.931|
|2017-18p||St. Petersburg SKA||KHL||4||254||8||1||1.89||4||76||0.905|
Source: Edmonton Oilers, Verified Twitter Account, 5/1/2018 – 10:59 am MST