Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Managing the goalies

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve looked at Edmonton’s forwards and defencemen and how best they can be deployed. This week, we’ll finish off by looking at Edmonton’s interesting three-headed goalie situation and the best way it can be managed.

Backup goalies have been a struggle for the Oilers in the past couple seasons. Cam Talbot played a whopping 73 games for the team in 2016-17 because Jonas Gustavsson couldn’t play adequately as the backup and the coaching staff didn’t trust Laurent Brossoit. It seems that amount of play caught up to Talbot as he struggled in the following season. Brossoit also struggled in relief of Talbot resulting in Peter Chiarelli acquiring Al Montoya from the Canadiens midway through the season.

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This year, Edmonton is rolling into the season with three goalies…

  • Cam Talbot was a key player in Edmonton’s playoff run in 2016-17 but he had a difficult season last year. Still, he figured to be Edmonton’s starting goalie this season. He’s is signed for one more year at $4,166,667.
  • In the off-season, Chiarelli inked Mikko Koskinen to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. Koskinen has been very good in the KHL in recent years, but he has only four games of NHL experience.
  • Al Montoya is still in the mix with one year left on his contract. He has a $1,062,500 cap hit and virtually all of that can be buried in the minors if he clears waivers.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How do you handle the goalies this season? How much of a leash does Talbot have? Hell, how long of a leash does Koskinen have?

Talbot has led the league in games for goalies in back-to-back seasons now. He played an obscene amount of games in 2016-17 and was relied upon heavily again in 2017-18. Chiarelli brought in Koskinen, it seems, to spell Talbot as a 1B goalie given his struggles last season. You have to assume given Koskinen’s pricey $2.5 million cap hit that the team intends on giving him a role larger than the one you see for your standard backup goalie.

One issue with this, though, is the fact Koskinen has a whopping four games of NHL experience. As I said, he was excellent in the KHL and he had a great showing for Finland at the Olympics, but he really isn’t a guarantee at the NHL level. To increase skepticism, Koskinen has struggled in the pre-season, allowing eight goals over his first two appearances. Of course, there’s also a learning curve for Koskinen adjusting to the NHL ice surface and game so we certainly can’t just write him off immediately. The reality is that Koskinen may struggle early on in the season before figuring things out in the NHL.

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So, what say you, Nation? How do you see the goaltending shaking out this season? Do you have faith in Koskinen splitting the net with Talbot? Are you worried about Koskinen based on his pre-season showing? How long of a leash would you give him before bringing up Montoya as the backup? 


If you’ve ever been to one of our season opener parties before, you already know that one of the best parts is getting 200 Nation citizens together to meet up and start off the new season on a high note. Not only are these parties a great way to get the band together, it’s especially fun to meet new people that you’ve been arguing with talking to online for Gord knows how long.


The bag: Exclusive Season Opener Party tee, Pint GC, Oodle Noodle GC, stickers, and a ticket to enter all of the draws and raffles
The giveaways: 
Memorabilia giveaways, NationGear giveaways,
Anything else: We’ll also be having a NationGear pop-up shop that features some of the new shirts and hoodies that we’ve got for the upcoming season.

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Where: The Pint Downtown
When: October 6th, with doors opening at 10 am and the hockey game starting at 11 am
Who: Every single one of you… that is of legal drinking age
Why: To celebrate the launch of a new season, get together, and to raise as much money as possible for our friends at KidSport
How much: Tickets are $25 each with net proceeds going directly to KidSport
How: Tickets are available here.

  • It's only game why you heff to be mad

    Start Koskinen in the AHL to get him accustomed to the smaller ice. I doubt anyone claims him off waivers with his caphit. When he is ready call him up and if possible try to get anything for Montoya

    • Big Nuggets

      keep Montoya for AHL duty. That team has potential and goalie is the most important position. It’d be good for development if they can get some playoff games.

    • toprightcorner

      Koskinen is waiver exempt.

      I agree 100%, let him play 9 out of the first 10 games in the AHL instead of 1 in the first 10 in the NHL. He not only needs to get used to the ice but also different equipment. He has smaller pads and chest gear and the way he plays like a tall goalie that is tough. NHL goalies changed pads last year and chest gear this year so it was an easier transition

  • Dark Knight Returns

    Koskinen to start with the Condors so he gets playing time and call him up in November if he is stopping everything down there. If he isn’t…. oh boy. Gotta hold on to Monty

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Another story about the backup goaltenders and how to deploy them?….Who cares how Montoya and Koskinen are deployed….McClellan and staff will figure it out….. Its not like the coaches and GM actually read this site. Wake me when the season starts!!

  • Craig1981

    They didn’t pay him 2.5 million to play in the AHL. The fact they invested that much in him means management feels strongly enough that a few preseason games won’t sway them

  • Big Nuggets

    I never thought they expected a bigger role for the backup because of the price tag. I hope they rest Talbot more because it seems foolish to play him so often. I think the price tag was simply what Koskinen’s agent managed to get for his client.

    • Kepler62c

      I’d agree, if their reason for spending $2.5M was because they wanted a backup who they could rely on for 20-30 games then there were plenty of NHL proven options. Koskinen probably wasn’t coming over for league minimum, they think he’s got potential, and paid up.

  • Hemmercules

    Send Koski down right away to get some games in on the smaller ice vs easier competition. Then if Monty has 2 or 3 bad outings swap them. I cant see either guy not clearing waivers. I would give Talbot 70 games. Maybe 65 if those backups actually show up in the games they get.

    • Kepler62c

      Koskinen doesn’t have to clear, so yes sending him down would be smart – that said, we don’t see practices and he may be showing really good there. I hope he gets another full game.

    • 70 games for Talbot? That’s exactly what they’re trying to avoid here. And what if he gets injured because of the workload?

      The first back-to-back isn’t until early November, so you don’t need necessarily to play a backup goalie like Montoya, maybe a game or two. In that time Koskinen can play in the Bake until his SV% gets above .910. If he doesn’t pan out this year with that contract, then they can let him walk. Also, RFA Talbot needs to get paid again ($4.5m?) along with Rattie (add $3m to cap), Puljujarvi ($3.5m?), and Khaira ($1.5m?).

  • Oil9744

    I think Koskinen will do good if the oilers defence is healthy, that goes for Talbot as well, if they can keep the majority of shots on the outside instead of the slot they should be fine. I hope.

  • scott5017

    Running koskinen over montoya would be a mistake. Let koskinen get a few games with the condors see how he does, ride a proven back up, its not hard but its oilers so koskinen for starter?

  • Ratt McNuge

    I’ll join the choir in saying that Koskinen should start the year in the AHL to get him more game XP. Then call him up after 10-20 games if he performs well down there.

  • I think the Bryz treatment is ideal, give him 2-3 games to work out the kinks in the AHL. If Talbot is going to start the first 5 games then Kosk might aswell get his starts in Bakersfield to get in regular season shape.

  • I’m in the Koskinen to AHL for lots of games camp too. I think he needs to get some confidence and experience in the smaller ice rink. Maybe he lights it up down there and can come in and be a solid back up and Montoya picked up on waivers when he gets sent down

  • Abagofpucks

    I would put him in the ahl and see how he does there, Keep Montoya as back up.
    But i would play Koskinen in the next game against the flames.
    I have to say it i HATE the orange jersey’s who ever picked them is either blind or secretly hates the oilers.

  • vetinari

    Send Koskinen down to the AHL for October… start with Talbot and Montoya with Talbot getting most of the games. Revisit in November depending on how Montoya and Koskinen are performing. Switch them if either Montoya is faltering or Koskinen is lighting things up.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I said it before and will again that Kositsin ( cayse its in ) needs to go down to the AHL and get a bunch of games and the Oilers need to see what he can do. The Oilers can not have Kositsin sitting on the bench for 8 or 10 games to find if he can handle playing in the NHL andif the preseason was a fluke or a tell. Having Kositsin go down to teh AHL and get a bunch of games in is whats best for him and the Oilers, Montoya can back up Talbot untill Kositsin is ready to come back to the NHL.

    Lets be honest Kositsin pre-season has been nothing to write home about, and Kositsin needs to prove he can handle the NHL and prove to the Oilers that his KHL stats arent a fluke. Kositsin may not like it, but It needs to happen, getting some regular games in the AHL can only help settle once and for all if the Oilers can count on him to back stop Talbot and the Oilers