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.
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.
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!)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.