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Photo Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

A plan between the pipes?

At this point, I don’t think it’s too early to start worrying about the Oilers goaltending moving forward this season and beyond. Unless you think Mikko Koskinen is a number one goaltender I suggest you keep reading.

The thought process heading into this year was that the Oilers would have two soon to be UFA’s pushing each other for the net, in a good way. They may be fighting for starts right now but it’s not because either one of them is absolutely lighting the world on fire.

With a save percentage of .918 and a Goals Against Average of 2.52 Koskinen has much better numbers so far. Talbot has started 13 games and currently sports a .895 save percentage with a less than impressive 3.09 GAA, worse numbers than he had last season.

With this year’s sample size still being somewhat small I think it’s fair to take a look at quality start percentages so far. I’m counting any START with a save percentage at .915 or higher as a quality start.

Talbot has started 13 games this year and has recorded a quality start five times giving him a quality start percentage of 46%. Koskinen has now started five games and has recorded a quality start twice; which works out to a QSP of 40%. Even these quality start numbers can be a little misleading. Koskinen got credit for a quality start last night and let in a pair of stinkers in the process.

The issue for the Oilers is two fold. Can either of these two guys carry them into the post-season this year and are either one of them a legitimate option heading into next season? I’m still not ready to write off Cam Talbot and I said yesterday during a radio appearance on TSN Radio in Montreal that I thought it was a mistake to not go back to him against the Habs. If Talbot doesn’t get back on track Peter Chiarelli will be looking at this list below during the offseason and it’s not pretty.

POSSIBLE UFA’S

Sergei Bobrovksy:

Just kidding, they can’t afford him and he would never come here.

Semyon Varlamov:

The Avalanche will likely be moving to Grubauer full time next season. Varlamov is off to a nice start in Colorado; through his first 12 starts of the campaign, he has a quality start percentage of 75%. He’ll be 31 when the 2019-20 season begins but has a career save percentage of .917 and finished with a .920 mark over 51 starts last season.

Robin Lehner:

Lehner is an intriguing option due to his age and pedigree. He’ll be just 27-years old next season and was a highly touted prospect for a long time in the Senators organization. He had save percentages of .920 or better in two of his three seasons with the Sabres. This season with the Islanders he has a .921%, a 2.59 GAA and a 56% QSP.

He got help during this past off-season for alcohol and drug addictions. He’s also been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and ADHD. I’m sure everything would be taken into account when deciding whether or not to sign him.

Chad Johnson:

Johnson is already 32-year olds but even at that age he still is an interesting option. Johnson has played six games for the Blues this season and is outplaying Jake Allen by a significant margin. If Koskinen doesn’t pan out a Cam Talbot-Chad Johnson duo may not be the worst thing in the world, not the best, but not the worst.

Keith Kinkaid:

Kinkaid has been taking the Devils top job away from Cory Schneider but the ginger (that’s Schneider) has three more years left on his deal. A Kinkaid move would similar to what they did bringing Talbot in from the Rangers. He’s shown flashes of being a pretty good goaltender but can he do it over an extended period of time? He started 41 games last season and finished with a .913%. His QSP this season is 46%, the exact same as Talbot’s.

There’s also the obvious flaw. His name is Keith, identified by Family Guy as the most unattractive middle name in the human language. One of my middle names is Keith, true story.

Mike Smith:

Nope.

WHAT ABOUT A TRADE?

The Oilers could go out and pull the trigger on a deal but what do they really have to give up and who could possibly be available?

Juuse Saros isn’t going anywhere in Nashville and to be honest with you there aren’t a lot of other good backups in the NHL. I’m sure Cory Schneider could be had in New Jersey but this isn’t 2014. Aaron Dell in San Jose, is it worth giving up any assets for a guy who may not even be as good as Talbot? Probably not.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

I know what I’ve learned from putting this piece together is that the Oilers really, really, really need Cam Talbot to get his game on track to a point where he actually deserves to be signed to a two or three-year contract extension. The only option I would confidently say is better would be Varlamov out of Colorado.

For all of you Koskinen lovers out there, I’m still not buying it, maybe he proves me wrong, as a huge supporter of Finns I hope he does, but I’d bet he doesn’t. Even if you are a huge fan of what he’s accomplished so far this season can you honestly tell me you’d be happy with him as your number one goalie next year? Let the debate continue.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • elliotsmom

    After watching MK in goal, I am noticing that he has some of the same posturing traits as Talbot. He is also going down early and spending way too much time crouched on his knees. I think there would be a huge improvement in both netminders if we had a different goalie coach. Both of our guys seem to have similar positioning problems and rebound control issues. Appears to me that that stems from coaching. Of course, our defensemen are not helping very much either.

  • Kepler62c

    If Koskinen actually takes over as #1 at some point before Christmas and runs with it the rest of the season AND into the playoffs, then I’d say I’d be comfortable signing him as #1 next year. Let’s not forget that while he has very little NHL experience, this is 31 year old net minder who has had a lot of success in the KHL and other leagues. He’s not a rookie goalie.

    • crabman

      Those are some big ifs at this point but I totally agree that IF all that was to happen he could be the answer to the goaltending question next year.
      Right now it is too early to tell but I’m rooting for both Talbot and Koskinen or anyone else that plays any time in goal for the Oilers this year. I don’t care who is in there, just win.