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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What do you expect from Mikko Koskinen?

Can you believe that it’s only July and that we’re still two and a half months away from the season starting? We’re getting to the dog days of summer and still have so many McDavid-less days to go before our beloved Oilers come back, and it’s up to me to help us all kill a little bit of time that will help us get there. On this day, we take a look at the answers to everything you’ve ever wanted to know when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers and life in general. My friends, it’s mailbag time.

Edmonton Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli, speaks at a season ending press conference.

1) Vetinari asks – With our current projected roster, is there one last change, move or tweak you would like to see before training camp whether within our cap space or not?

Robin Brownlee:

Cap space doesn’t matter? I’ll take Drew Doughty. If cap space matters, I’d like to a see a proven top-six right winger. Too much wishing and hoping going on at that position.

Matt Henderson:

I would like to see the Oilers shed one of their anchors this offseason so they might not be compelled to buy out one later. If they can move Lucic now, they might not have to buy out Russell just to make room next June. It’s not about making Edmonton good this season, it’s about having the ability to do things in the future.

Christian Pagnani:

Sign Jannik Hansen to a cheap, one-year deal. He can skate, penalty kill, and adds another right-handed shot.

Chris the Intern:

This isn’t going to happen because we don’t have the cap space, but we NEED another established top six right winger. Right now we’re just banking that JP or Yamamoto will have breakout years. OR that Rieder will break through. It makes me nervous without having an established guy up there.

Baggedmilk:

I would like to see them add a proven, veteran winger to the right side to add a little more competition there but I doubt it will happen based on the cap situation. Chances are that they won’t do anything else because they just don’t have the space, so the growth will have to come from within.

2) Jack asks – Given that Mikko Koskinen is not at all proven at the NHL level, what are your expectations for him moving into next season? How many games would you expect him to play?

Robin Brownlee:

Over-paying him shouldn’t mean over-playing him, but I suspect the Oilers will unless he totally soils the sheets. For me, Talbot is good in the mid-to-high 60’s for games — 65-68 — so I’m thinking 14-17 for Koskinen, if he isn’t a sieve.

Matt Henderson:

I expect Koskinen to get a minimum of 20 starts and for the money he’s getting paid, he should be at least a .915 save percentage. I have no other expectations. At least if he’s underwhelming he just goes away.

Christian Pagnani:

I think a similar season to what Anders Nilsson did here Nilsson was another KHL goalie who had similar numbers to Koskinen. I’d say Koskinen plays around 20 games. McLellan just doesn’t play his backup much and I’d be surprised if he started to now.

Chris the Intern:

Honestly, I have no idea. I assume McLellan will try to play him more based on his salary, cause having him sit on the bench for 65 games this season at $2.5mill is not a good scenario. If Koskinen plays well, I’d like to see him play 20-30 games this season. If he’s battling with Cam for a top spot then even better. I don’t think it will get that far, but we’ll see.

Baggedmilk:

I honestly have no idea. Koskinen’s KHL numbers were really similar to Anders Nilsson’s before he signed with the Oilers a few years back so I’ll guess we’ll see something kinda like that. I’ve never seen him play so I really don’t know how to answer the question. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Mar 18, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA;Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates with the puck during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

3) Patrick asks – If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has the change to stick with Connor McDavid all year I think the Nuge could be in line for a breakout season. Assuming he does just that, what would be your point prediction for RNH for the upcoming season?

Robin Brownlee:

If he stays healthy, which has been a challenge, I don’t see why he can’t match the career-best .84 PPG he had as a rookie. I think 66-72 points is a reasonable expectation.

Matt Henderson:

I think if he’s with Connor all year that RNH puts together a 30-40-70 season. I believe he can do that. He was on a 31 goal pace this past year and he really didn’t get that much time with 97. I think they can be dynamic together and that RNH only improves his instincts as a winger.

Christian Pagnani:

If he stays on McDavid’s wing for most of the season, something like 32-37-69 wouldn’t surprise me.

Chris the Intern:

I’d love to see Nuge notch 60 points this season. I think if he and Connor click all season it will be an easy 60 points for him.

Baggedmilk:

I can see Nuge hitting 30 goals and 60 points if he sticks with Connor all season long. Connor McDavid makes everyone that plays with him better, but I think Nuge is one of the few that can actually make Connor better and that’s a relationship I hope we’ll see for a long time.

Oct 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matthew Murray (30) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

4) Blake asks – Based purely on your gut feeling, who would you guess will get more games and points in 2018/19 – Puljujarvi or Yamamoto? Why?

Robin Brownlee:

Puljujarvi will get more points and games. He’s already had to try to adjust to NHL competition and that’s something Yamamoto has yet to do for any extended period of time.

Matt Henderson:

My gut says that Yamamoto gets more games and points than Puljujarvi and that it will have a lot to do with opportunity. Despite being almost the same age, the team looks at JP as having been given his chance but KY as having untapped potential. I think he gets more time in the top 6, on the PP, and with 97 in particular because of it. JP deserves the chances too but the team is pretty dumb about these development issues.

Christian Pagnani:

Puljujarvi. He’s already been in the NHL the last two seasons. Yamamoto can be sent to the AHL and his entry-level contract would be pushed back another season if he played less than 10 NHL games, although that hasn’t really stopped the Oilers before.

Chris the Intern:

GAH this topic stresses me out. I’m going with Puljujarvi based on his age and experience from last year.

Baggedmilk:

I assume Puljujarvi will stick for the whole season but I don’t really have anything to base that on. I’d like to see Yamamoto get some AHL time in before making the full-time jump to the NHL but based on the depth chart, that may just be a pipe dream.

5) Sara asks – I’m very grateful for the number of articles you guys put out on a daily basis even during the summer. What is the trick to finding things to write about even when there’s not a whole lot going on?

Robin Brownlee:

For me, it’s doing the list-type series we’ve run for the last few years — Top-this, Top-that. There’s always room for speculating about trade and free agent possibilities during the off-season, which is fine, but it’s really not my thing. If you’re not around the team every day or talking to agents and hockey people, then you’re just guessing or repeating rumors that may or may not be valid.

Matt Henderson:

*tugs collar* Uhhhhhhhhh.

Christian Pagnani:

Talking with other people helps. Sometimes there’s an interesting idea because people love hockey year-round and can’t wait for the season to begin.

Chris the Intern:

For me, it’s trying to think outside the box of traditional media and Oiler topics. I’d like to hope that everyone understands that summer content is a little different than in-season content and gives us a little break when we choose to talk about dumb topics over the summer. As crappy as summer is to try and talk hockey stuff, it can be a really fun opportunity to get creative and present topics in unordinary ways.

Baggedmilk:

During the summer, we look at doing reviews, prospect profiles, and looking ahead at next year. Ideally, we want to have multiple articles per day for you guys to read but it can be tough to do when nothing is happening, so sometimes things have to get a little bit weird. It’s always funny to see when we post something a little bit out there and finding out who has a sense of humour and who doesn’t.

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  • OriginalPouzar

    Its tough to have any “expectations” for Koskinen because he is totally unproven in North America. Yes, the verbal is that “he’s the best goalie in Europe” and I’ll take that at face value even though Francouz won KHL goalie of the year. I know Koskinen has been very good for the Finish National Teams.

    In any event, as I said, its tough to “expect” anything as it is not uncommon at all for the top players in the KHL to not have their success translate to the NHL. His numbers allign with those of Curtis Sanford and Anders Nillson.

    I am fine with the bet on the player but not at the crazy cap hit he’s received. Oh well, we are where we are and I am hopeful that he will provide elite level back-up goaltending, as that is what he’s being paid for.

    Time will tell.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Not to be a “negative Norman”, but at the first half of last season, wasn’t Ben Scrivens at the top of the KHL in goaltending? On a positive note, we have to trust the scouting prowess of Keith Gretzky I guess…
      We’ll see.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Yes, Ben Scrivens is a better than average KHL starter – that is kind of my point – KHL success does not always equate to NHL success for goaltenders.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Hey, to begin his NHL career, didn’t the Oilers win a game where he had something north of 60 shots on him? Was that him?
          I can see why the Old Boys Club made him a #1 after that performance… Say what you want about Peter C, but I sure don’t miss those good ol’ days… you?

  • ubermiguel

    20 games from Koskinen is top end, and that means he’s putting up .910+. Am I too hopeful thinking a point a game from Nuge is in the realm of possibility? Probably, but between riding shotgun for McDavid and an improved PP he’s got a chance.

  • madjam

    Bloody embarrassed about Oiler management and coaching Look at what Flames have done in comparison – at least they try a lot harder each year . Take away McDavid , Drysaitl and partly Hopkins and we are nothing of note .

    • OriginalPouzar

      Take away the three best players and there is nothing to note? That is the argument?

      Take away Gaudreau, Monohan and Tkachuk and the flames are “nothing of note”.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Alright. How about this; take away McDavid and we are a worse team than in 2010. What in the hell has been going on the last decade? How can Katz sit back and watch this debacle? How is it possible that fans continue to have patience, apart from some minor grumbling here?

        • Big Nuggets

          Are you one of the guys that when you’re passed on thr highway you have to stomp on the gas because your ego won’t let someone drive faster than you. The cap space gets opened up next season, we can hit the gas when we hit the open road. Not defending Chia’s job as a GM but he didn’t make any major blunders this offseason and next offseason there will be more opportunities. I get the impatience but we still need the right strategy, which to my mind means patience this season. See what we have in all the question marks this year with Klef, Sek, Luc, etc. then make a play next offseason or at the deadline this year.

          The Flames made some good moves this year but its the competition on the ice that matters, not a competition to sign the biggest name. The James Neal contract will not age well, and the Draisaitl ‘overpay’ will look better with time. With Conner, Drai and Nuge we have 3 excellent forwards to build around, this year we will see just what we have on defense, which will likely be a pleasant surprise considering the injuries that were dealt with last year. This line up is good enough to compete for the playoffs, next year tweak it and go for Lord Stanley.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Lets hope Koskinen doesn’t play, he’s a bust. We did this with Nilsson, who had similar numbers, and Belov. Prediction: Koskinen is out of the NHL before his contract runs out.

    • LAKID

      We better hope Koskinen isn’t a bust as we have a bust with Dead-bot. I would say with Talbot’s past Koskinen will be the #1 after the first shot on goal in the home opener.

      • Chris Prongers Rake

        Talbot will bounce back this year, it was the worst year of his career, I’m willing to bet it was an outlier. He’s also in a contract year so he’ll be motivated.

        • Shameless Plugger

          Interesting take Brownlee. Seeing as damned near every mailbag you have a smart ass or condescending comment. You do know teams can go over the cap in the off-season right? Or is being crusty YOUR way of trolling?

  • Consultant

    I wonder how good of a puck handler Koskinen is?
    Seems like such an underrated skill for goalies. It would be great if he could save over 0.91 and help our dmen get the puck up the ice.

  • OriginalPouzar

    “Yamamoto can be sent to the AHL and his entry-level contract would be pushed back another season if he played less than 10 NHL games, although that hasn’t really stopped the Oilers before.”

    This is not true – He is turning pro next year and his contract is no longer subject to slide.

    • Jason Gregor

      Pouzar, you are incorrect. It is due to his birthday. He is still 19 on September 15th. He is indeed eligible for slide rule as long as he doesn’t play 10 games in the NHL this season. It is an odd one rule, but Oilers could take advantage of it. Now, if he is ready and can contribute in NHL, you play him here, but if he isn’t ready, they should use the loophole to their advantage.

      • OriginalPouzar

        It seems you are right Jason – I thank you and I apologize for my incorrect post.

        I think its pretty unlikely that he’ll play less than 10 NHL games but it is good to know that the contract would slide if that indeed does happen.

  • ed from edmonton

    Koskinen is being paid like a 1B goalie, whether he is this remains to be seen. I think the Koskinen signing may tell us that PC is not that sold on Talbot’s ability to bounce back or that signing Talbot to a new contract is not a given.

    If TRMH can play a full season (something he has rarely done) on McDs left side I would expect 70 to 80 points;

    • Kneedroptalbot

      A 6’7″ European goaltender signed to a 1 year 2.5M show me contract. Very low risk and all kinds of upside should things work out. Goaltenders take longer to develop, European players sometimes take longer too. I like how this might work out.

  • Jaxon

    “With our current projected roster, is there one last change, move or tweak you would like to see before training camp whether within our cap space or not?”

    Tristen Nielsen and Ryan Sproul

  • Foxconn

    Koskinen was one of the top 3 goalies in the KHL and at the Olympics. It’s funny how some fans have inside information on how he’ll perform in his NHL debut season.