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Goalie Depth Update Part 1: Koskinen, Skinner, Wells

There was a bit of shuffling in the Oilers crease this offseason, with highly-touted Finish free agent Mikko Koskinen signing out of the KHL to solidify the No. 2 spot while hopefully providing a competitive push to Cam Talbot.

Speaking of the team’s starter, Edmonton will be looking for Talbot to bounce back from his worst NHL season which, not coincidentally, played a bit part in the Oilers struggles for the better part of 2017-18. The 31-year-old posted a save percentage of just .908, which ranked T-28 among qualified goaltenders, while his minus-9.30 GSAA and .478 quality start percentage were both, by far, the worst of his career.

It could easily be a one-off performance from the netminder, for sure, as Talbot’s true ability likely lays somewhere between there and where he was during his career-best campaign just a year earlier when he finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting after starting 73 games and posting a .919 Sv%.

How Talbot bounces back during what is sure to be a pressure-filled campaign in Edmonton will dictate the pending unrestricted free agent’s status with the club going forward, but the development and progress of those in the system will also greatly impact the Oilers’ direction in the crease going forward.

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Here’s a glance at the organization’s goaltending depth, starting with the aforementioned Koskinen, along with a couple recent draft picks who have just finished up a couple of stellar junior careers.


Mikko Koskinen

Where did he come from? The 30-year-old was inked to a one-year, $2.5-million deal after spending the past four seasons with powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. He was drafted in the second round by the Islanders in 2009. (finally, payback!)

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Where does he currently stand? Koskinen easily vaults over Al Montoya as the team’s No 2 goaltender, and by all accounts will push Talbot for ice-time all season and could go on a run of games when or if the starter begins to falter. Don’t be surprised if this turns into some type of platoon situation by season’s end — pure backups don’t tend to make anywhere near $2.5-million clams per.

Last two seasons. Koskinen put up some savage numbers with SKA last season, posting a .937 save percentage and 1.57 GAA in 29 games while also putting up a .932/1.62 with Finland at the Olympics. in 2016-17, he recorded a .916 Sv% with the KHL champs.

Scouting report. “Obviously, the first thing that you notice about Koskinen is his size. He takes up a ton of net and he is difficult to beat when he has time to square up to the shooter. Predictably, he struggles a bit with his mobility and regularly ends up scrambling. However, he is extremely flexible for a man his size. That combined with his long limbs helps Koskinen make up for whatever deficiencies exist in his lateral movement,” Via Dobber Prospects


Stuart Skinner

Swift Current Broncos goaltender, Stuart Skinner, celebrates after winning the WHL Championship on Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Where did he come from? The Edmonton native was selected in the third round, No. 78 overall by the Oilers in 2017 from the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Where does he currently stand? If all goes well (there’s no reason to think to shouldn’t), Skinner will spend this season — and likely the next couple, at least — with Bakersfield of the AHL. He’s arguably the team’s best goaltender outside of the NHL, and should battle with fellow developing crease prospect Dylan Wells for meaningful minutes on the farm. There’s also a slim chance that he returns to junior for one more season.

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Last two seasons. Skinner was lights-out for Swift Current after being acquired from Lethbridge halfway through the season, leading the Broncos to the WHL championship and posting a .932 Sv% in 26 playoff games after recording a .914 in 25 regular season contests. He went 34-18-2 during his draft year with Lethbridge, and is freshly inked to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Scouting report. “His numbers with the Broncos are undoubtedly impressive but there is some concern on whether or not he is a product of playing on such a strong team. Regardless, the Oilers have to be hoping that they can groom Skinner to be their goaltender of the future. It‘s important to note that the Oilers haven‘t developed an NHL goaltender since they drafted Devan Dubnyk 14th overall in 2004,” Via Dobber Prospects.


Dylan Wells

Where did he come from? Drafted one year before Skinner, Edmonton chose wells in the fifth round of the 2016 draft from the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League.

Where does he currently stand? He, like Skinner, will likely spend this season with the Condors of the AHL as the 19 and 20-year-olds should go toe-to-toe for ice time and positioning on the Oilers’ depth charts over the next couple of campaigns. He also signed a three-year, entry-level contract earlier this year. The ECHL is also a realistic option if the ice time wont be there in the AHL.

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Last two seasons. Wells didn’t have his best season statistically in 2017-18, but battled admirably and was an absolute workhorse for a pretty-bad Petes squad, posting a .896 save percentage in 56 games while averaging 34 shots against per contest. He recorded a 33-15-2 record and .916 Sv% in 52 games with Peterborough the season prior.

Scouting report. “Dylan is a calm, confident presence in the crease. One of Wells best abilities is to track the puck. His athleticism helps with second opportunities. …The stats don’t tell the whole story though as the Petes struggled mightily and had just one point-per-game player and not one player had a positive plus-minus rating.” Via Dobber Prospects.

  • OriginalPouzar

    It will be very interesting to see how Skinner, Wells, Montoya and Starrett are deployed in the minor leagues.

    The key is developing the younger goalies and ensuring playing time but we can’t just leave Montoya to rot as the third stringer in the AHL can we? In particular, lets not forget that Montoya is the only viable option for the NHL if there is an injury to Talbot or Koskinen – the other three simply are not ready for any NHL time.

    I guess there is a chance that Skinner goes back to junior but I think he’s ready to turn pro and that is likely best for his development if there is enough playing time.

    I’m thinking:

    AHL: Skinner/Montoya – fairly even split of games
    ECHL: Starrett/Wells

    If Skinner isn’t quite ready for the AHL, Starrett does deserve the shot in the AHL.

    It would be nice not to have to find games for Montoya but, as I said above, he is needed for NHL cover (assuming he clears waivers).

    • 18% body fat

      I like this idea better

      AHL Montoya Starret
      ECHL Wells Hawkey
      CHL Skinner Rodrigue

      young goalies get crushed in pro. lets leave the AHL to the older propects, as we know the younger ones will only sit on the bench anyways.

      Wells needs to be slow played and a best case scenario for the young ones wells and skinner graduate to the AHL for next year pushing out the other 3.

      With a group of quality goalie prospects all drafted one year apart you may as well graduate them slowly, 1 year apart and let them play.

      If they draft a goalie next year it should be a Euro so they have 3 or 4 years playing time over there.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Ya, Skinner could be back in junior – I don’t think it would hurt – goalies are voodoo and development is a process. We’ll see.

        I think Hayden Hawkey will be back in Providence – I don’t believe he’s signed (yet) and think he’s got one more year before he is going to turn pro.

      • SirB9

        It doesnt make sense to hold a guy back just for the sake of holding him back. Skinner by far was the best goalie during the exhibition game at the development camp. If he remains to be the best of the lot then he definitely deserve to go to the AHL, holding him back because you will have too many goalies doesnt make sense especially if we want to develop talent. The guy has proven the last two season with both Hurricanes and Broncos that he is a worthy prospect, given his start with the Hurricanes last season wasn’t as good as previous year but at the same time look at the style the Lethbridge has been playing the last few season (They play swam hockey, not good for goalie especially if it fails which it did a lot last season and they left the goalies out and dry) and he still managed to post not too bad shabby averages. The kid is better than that level he flat-out outplayed Carter Hart and if you did read the scouting reports before the WHL finals started you will say Hart was gonna win and he was gonna be MVP as well.
        To me cut loose Montoya and hope for the best and give the 3 goalies a chance to battle it out
        and place them accordingly to the depth whether it be AHL, ECHL or CHL and give Wells and Skinner preseason games and see how they fair against men.
        AHL: Skinner / Starret (Montoya – if he isnt cut loose) – Even Split
        ECHL: Wells /Starret – Even Split

  • ed from edmonton

    The three guys mentioned here are all interesting prospects, but who knows how any will work out. I don’t think having Skinner and Wells on the same team (i.e. either AHL or ECHL) makes any sense. You want both to be given the opportunity to play as much as possible and not stealing time from each other. No problem if Skinner plays another year in the dub.

  • TomahawkThought

    With a quick google search it looks like KHL goalies have no padding size restrictions, however, I couldn’t find any confirmed ruling on this. Does anyone have confirmed knowledge on what the pad restrictions are in the KHL? And if so, how big of an impact might it have on goalies suck as Koskinen when they transition to the NHL?

  • Ben918

    I like our prospects but we paid huge to gamble on a back up. Many solid NHL proven goalies signed short term deals for 2.5-3.0 mil a year. To give 2.5 to a goalie that did decent on basically an all star KHL team is pretty much like trading a ton to get Talbot when we did. It will be fun watching the Condors as their goaltending looks good for years but the Oilers playoff hopes rely solely in Talbot’s hands. The Oilers lack of improvement, especially on the blue line this off season means Talbot will be doing it all with little to no help.

  • Arfguy

    The way I look at it is, Cam Talbot is our starting goalie. He will return to being a good goalie who will hold us in games. Yeah, he had a bad season last year, but so did most of the team. Our defence core was all banged up and it hurt our coverage.

    The signing of Koskinen gives the Oilers a strong back-up option that could step up and play major games if Talbot falters (which I don’t think he will). I like the Oilers’ goaltending situation. I like the idea of Skinner playing in the AHL, but someone did make a good point about him having more playing time in the Juniors. I think if Montoya and Starrett are in the AHL and Wells starting in the ECHL, I think it gives the Oilers a lot of maneuverability.