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.


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:



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.


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:

    • OilerForLife

      Goaltenders who let in the first shot of a game or period as often as he did do not play in the NHL long. A total downer and the whole crowd and team sink.

  • OilersBro

    I really can’t blame a lot of our loses on the goaltending when you look at the quality of scoring chances they’ve faced. Let’s be completely honest, we have a goaltender who’d rank 20-25 in this league and a backup who’s probably around the same range with a deep pipeline of prospects. If one of them can prove themselves to be a top 15 goaltender, give him the first contract and then see if the other is available for under 2MM. If not, we have several young tendies fighting over Bakerfield and Junior who might be more developed by next year.

  • CMG30

    We’re now have a goalie controversy, but not the good kind. Not to mention we’re overspending at the position. Hopefully one of them gets on track. Just cut out the bad goals…

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      You do have a point the Oilers have been terrible in their own end, and that statues thing they are doing on the PK is brutal, like go back to the basics in our end and on the PK if the system they are employing isnt working.

      The Oilers can not stick with systems not working untill it is too late like they did last year, do that and they will be in real trouble

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Talnot is in the last year of his contract. If the Oilers really wants to know if Talbot can fix the weajnesses in his game, they have to fire Dustin Schwartz and hire a proven NHL golatending coach with NHL experience. Talbot has the bad habit of going down to early and satying there too long, this has been going on since last year and nothing has been done to sure the goals that are going in high because of it.

    Get a proven NHL goaltending coach in with NHL experience and let him work with Talbot and the Oilers will see if they see improvement in Talbot’s game or not, because they need to know before the end of the season what to do. Sign Talbot, Trade Talbot or starting look at other Goalies. The going down early staying there too long has every shooter in the NHL putting pucks up high on Talbot, Schwarts has done nothing to fix this, other goalie coaches would have said, “hey your having pucks go by you because of this, why dont we work on seeing if we can fix that” Schwartz doesnt seem to think it is an issue, when anyone watching the game can see it. Bizarre that it hasn’t been dressed

    • Gonzo

      You’ve been on this train for a while now, we get it you don’t like Schwartz. Move on! You can work on technique all day long the problem with anything is if your down on confidence your game will struggle.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        No Schwartz is a nice enough guy, his lack of NHL experience is what is hurting Talbot. I dont think Talbot has a confidence issue, isten to him in interviews. Price right now has a confidence issue and he so mucyh as said so, Price stated the pronlem isnt in my game or my equipment, I have tried all different equipment wand tweak my game, the problem is btwn my ears. I dont think Talbot knows that his going down early and staying there long is an issue, you dont do the same thing for over a season and into a new one knowing it, he’d have fixed or we’d see something different in his play, nothing is different, that is a failure on Shcwartz part. Christ look at Benning doing the same things for over 3 years and staying doing them, does it seem to you like anyone told him where the issues in his game where, doesnt seem like it to me, maybe he got told or watch some film when he was out… he has been better but he seems to be making an effort to eliminate bad habits.

        Goalies cant hide their short comings only fix them, it isnt like on in other positions, goalies are more exposed. The goalie coach isnt there to be the psychologist, he is there to fix the playing issues in their game

  • I really like Koskinen. Is he more talented than Talbot? That’s debatable. But I think he has the size and (mostly) positioning fundamentals to make up for any deficiencies…and I think his positioning miscues are due to his adjustment to North American ice, and the NA game itself.

    Now, how patient can we be with him? How long does it take him to finally get his legs under hm? That’s the question. But I see excellent rebound control (which is such a huge factor when our D sometimes goes into scramble mode) and excellent work with his pads down low. I say let the kid have some more starts, get him some much needed confidence, and see what he can do.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    If I am TM I ride the hot hand in net, and right now that is Koskinen. Lets see if he can put a string of games together and wins, lord knows it sure cant hurt to see what he can do. Right now Talbot isnt getting it done but while it is not all on Talbot ( the defensive game of the Oilers and the PK have been terrible ) There are things in Talbots game that need work, going down to early staying there too long, letting a goal in within the first couple minutes, puck tracking. I think Talbot has just developed some bad habits he needs to get out of, I mean the guy had 42 wins, wasnt a fluke, but he was a lot better and so was the defensive system the Oilers played at that time as was there all around game. But go with Koskinen for now , hope Talbot gets a fire in him and comes back better,,,, and please Oilers Fire Dustin Schwartz

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Dustin Schwartz is a nice guy had a great scholastic career at the U of A as there Goalie, but he was the Oil Kings Goalie coach, when the Oilers fired Chabot, they didnt even search for a goalie coach they just gave Schwartz the job.

      Schwartz has zero NHL experience and we have all seen Talbot going down to early and staying down too long, the whole NHL know shoot high on Talbot, and Talbot lets in a lot of goals up high.

      So Talbot has been doing the go dodown early stay down too long this since last year, and Schwartz has done nothing to fix that. The goalie coach is there to work with the guys and help them fix the weaknesses in their game and nothing has been done with Talbot to cure this… nothing!!!

      If the fans see the problem in Talbots game, and media see’s it and the Oilers see it in video, how the hell can Schwartz not see it??? Thta is why he needs to go, NHL goalies need to adapt and fix their weak spots in their game or teams will use that advantage over and over to expose the weakness and Schwartz failure to see it and or address it is a real issue , one of the wrong person for the job

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          As a goalie coach for the Oilers, he has ZERO experience playing in the NHL and has never been a goalie coach in the NHL before. He only got the job because they fired Chabot, The oilers need a proven NHL goalie coach that has played the game ala Sean Burke and Bill Ranford and others. Coming from the Oil Kings as their goalie coach to the NHL that is a hugely different level of expertise needed, Schwartz doesnt have it

  • Spydyr

    At this point in time it is obvious to see that Koskinen is the better goalie. Run with the better goalie until he is not the better goalie. It is not very difficult. Address the goalie situation this summer.

  • What the Puck

    I would be completely comfortable trading talbot to gain cap space. Chia should be in the phone with the rebuilds trying to land a right winger. Mark stone out of Ottawa. Or Anthony Mantha out of Detroit.

  • OldOilFan

    Talbot hasn’t been sharp, but we don’t know why that is?

    He’s two years older now [versus his one great season 2016_17] so that is a factor…but how important is it? Only he can know.

    Dropping to his knees unnecessarily might be a symptom of low confidence, rather than the “cause” of his struggles.

    Still, I’d like to see either him, or his goalie coach, remove it from Cam’s game. I doubt he’d let more goals in than he does now. Best prospect, if he stays on is feet with his goal stick in front (like goalies did for decades before now) he’d take away the top glove side where he’s getting killed and cut off the low ice in front of him… Please, let me see him revive the “traditional” stance. Just try it, Cam. Please….

  • The future never comes

    I am not sold on Koski being a number 1 this year or next, what I am convinced of is him out playing Talbot so far. You know the most important stat? Wins. I play the goalie that gives us more wins, call me old fashioned.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Let in 2 stinkers, eh? If it had been McDavey busting down the side wall , and sniping it top shelf, you would say it was the goalies fault? Did not think so, the other one squeaked in between the body and the arm, the commentator was saying these type of goals will increase, due to the smaller chest protector.

    Koskinen is playing just fine, and Talbot I believe played the most of any goalie during the last 2 years, Talbot is just a little burnt out

    Our goalie situation will be fine

    • OldOilFan

      Agree with you on first two points. Not sure about the third…but this is “ostensibly” why mgmt made the 2.5M bet on Koskinen. They see the two as pretty much equals. Does Cam rank ahead of Kosk? In some ways, yes, he does. May the “hot hand” [if one emerges] earn the next contract.

    • crabman

      That 1st goal was a stinker. It was a great shot but Koskinen’s position in net gave up way too much. He way over played the short side to the point the near post was almost directly behind him. If He was properly positioned in the net and the shot beat him I would give more credit to the shooter. I do believe Koskinen taking the wrong angle at times has more to do with different ice size than he is used to and rhat should get better with time.
      The second goal was a stinker because it went through him. These types of goals have increased across the league this year but they are still bad goals every goalie would want back.
      I don’t think either goalie is playing like a starter and right now I wouldn’t be comfortable with either getting a longterm contract to be the starter of the future.

  • Odanada

    How about a survey:
    If you think they should try a run with Kostinen vote “cheers”

    If you think Cam is our number one
    and should be started again soon “trash it”

  • ed from edmonton

    Bruce McCurdy had a fascinating article at the Cult of Hockey yesterday that I encourage everyone to read. It really points out the difficulties Talbot is having early in games, constantly putting his team behind the 8 ball. No doubt Koskinnen has been the better goalie this year.

    Hopefully the bets option for the Oil goaltending next year will be either a re-vitalized Talbot or a Koskinnen who has proven himself this year.

    The next 5 games are all vs Pacific teams. TMAc has to go with his best goaltender, which at this point is Koskinnen.

  • TKB2677

    I am sorry Dusty, I don’t agree with your assessment of Koskinen and his game what so ever. 2 stinkers? What game were you watching?

    Domi’s goal. I am listening to your show and you say “Well he is 6’7 and it wasn’t even top corner.” Well it was a pretty damn good shot, placed almost perfectly in the top corner and if you think Koskinen at “6’7” shouldn’t get beat, then I sure hope you would have the same comment for Talbot at 6’4 who would have been beaten by that same shot because all goalies do is go down early. Talbot goes down earlier than most. The second goal. Shaw is allowed to stand 6 ft directly in front all by himself. The defense allows the pass to come out, he one times it in. Bang bang play. You expect any goalie to stop that? For real? He is looking behind him to watch the guy with the puck, which he has to do and has a split second to adjust to the shooter 6 ft away.

    The Oilers need to WIN GAMES. That’s it. For whatever reason they seem to play more confident in front of Koskinen. I heard Eric mention how many goals they score with Koskinen is in. Well I believe its because they play their game and BELIEVE Koskinen will make the saves he should. I do not think they believe Talbot will make the saves he should. I was at the Avs game. The first goal SUCKED and the team sagged immediately.

    What I find a bit hypocritical about Nielsen is right now he is sticking up for Talbot saying they should have started Talbot against the Habs to let Talbot know that he is still “their guy”. Well if the Oilers did that and he lost, Nielsen would be ripping the Oilers and the coaches. If the Oilers continued to play Talbot as he struggled and they kept losing, Nielsen would be ripping the Oilers and the coaches. If the Oilers miss the playoffs by a few games and it was because they played a struggling Talbot more than they should have, he would rip the Oilers and the coaches.

    • Spydyr

      The Talbot bias by the writers here is off the charts. If “Dadbot” had the game Koskinen did last night with 27 saves and a .931 save% they would be saying sign Talbot for five years. Oh wait, one of the writers here already said that.

      • TKB2677

        Koskinen has a .918 save percentage. Talbot has a .895 save percentage. That is a 23 point difference. That is a hell of a lot. Koskinen has a 2.52 GA and Talbot has a 3.09 GA. That’s over half a goal. That is a hell of a lot.

        I like Talbot, I think he is a good goalie but he’s not playing well. In the NHL, you CAN’T WIN without good goaltending. I don’t care how deep your team is, if you have Lucic or you don’t have Lucic. If Taylor Hall was here instead of Lucic and the Oilers were getting below .900 goaltending every game, they would not win. That’s fact. Talbot didn’t play well for most of last season and he hasn’t been that great this season. This isn’t about making sure everyone’s feelings aren’t hurt. This is pro sports, winning is the only thing that matters. Play the guy that gives you the best chance to win. Right now, that is Koskinen. If Talbot wants his job back, pretty simple. PLAY BETTER. Stop letting in crap goals and stop spitting out garbage rebounds. Go put in the extra work you clearly need with Schwartz before practice, after practice, before morning skates, on days off. Whatever the hell he needs to do to figure out what the problem is with his game, he should be doing that so he can play better. Based on what I have been told about Koskinen, since the day he has come over here, he has put in a ton of extra work to GET BETTER and it shows in his play. The guy is hungry and he wants more starts and he’s doing the work to make that happen. I have yet to hear anyone talk about all the extra work Talbot has been doing this year to get his game in order. So far all I have heard from Talbot is the same crap as last year. “I need to be better, blah, blah, blah” then he puts out another mediocre effort. Actions speak louder than words. If you want to be better, put in the work.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I didn’t think the two goals he let in last night were weak. One was an absolute ripper – top corner by a very hot shooter, the other was a one-timer from about 5 feet out or less. I agree with the previous poster, wins is the number one stat, and there is a clear victor between the two goalies.

    Cam Talbot has 5 wins in 13 starts.
    Koskinen has 4 wins in 5 starts.

    Koskinen is the starter for now, until that changes significantly.

  • OldOilFan

    Oilers “third option” in net:
    namely, mgmt could let both guys walk away this year. That would free up $6.6M to throw at a proven no.1 goalie for next year (assuming they can land one).

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    its still too early to either write off Talbot, or crown Koski… I think every year Talbot’s been here, for whatever reason he always starts the season stinking it up and then picks it up later, Koskinen’s stats are a bit deceiving, he had an unreal game against Chicago which really inflate his sv%, every other game he’s been….ok I guess. I don’t have a lot of confidence in this goaltending right now, but you need the year to decide who you go with next year…. and the market for goalies is garbage next year, so if anyone is fooled thinking we can get a better goalie via trade/FA signing, I’d love to know who, and what you would give up to get said person?

    • Dapper Dan 3099

      I remember the same goaltending issue we had when Nilsson was here, Talbot stunk it up early, they rode a hot Nilsson for a bit, and then Nilsson fizzled out to not even be retained by the team…. I hope im wrong, but I can see the same thing with Koskinen

  • Retired Mike

    Talbot is not a number 1 goaltender and if we kid ourselves that he is this team is going nowhere…plays to deep in the net maybe he should have been a soccer goalie, always on his knees to early, can’t track a puck behind the net, can’t play a puck without it becoming a major cluster you know what, never poke checks anyone and obviously most of all is never prepared to start the game on time till one or two are already behind him….makes every goaltender at the other end of the rink look like Superman is in net (they stand on their head while he flops around like a fish never knowing where the puck is)….

  • Hemmercules

    Play the better goalie the majority of the games until the trade deadline and try to offload the guy you don’t plan on keeping. Right now its obvious to me that Koski is playing better so I hope they give him the most games over the next month.

    I honestly don’t think Talbot is set on staying with the Oilers anyway. If they don’t overpay him on an extension he will probably test the market. He might even sign a 1 or 2 year deal at reasonable money if his value is low but then why would they want to keep him anyway?

    Go after a solid starter in the summer and pray to the hockey gods one of the kids starts rounding out into a solid option.

  • corky

    Coax Rick De Pietro out of retirement. Jk. Just run with the hot goalie, test the trade waters and look at free agency in the summer. Just please no rash decisions by brain trust that will blow up as usual. Play the long game on this one PC

  • D

    For me the big issue is the timing of weak goals. Talbot lets in weak goals that puts the team down, and forces the Oilers to play catch-up. Koskinen rarely lets in that weak goal which demoralizes the team in front of him.

  • hagar

    Like was said, that was odd to call the first two goals stinkers.
    If you dont feel more confident watching kosk play than talbot your view is skewed. Its clear as day kosk moves and reacts to the play much better tan talbot. Talbot is doing that weird thing he does when he is off, and just positions himself in hopes the puck hits him.
    Its like he loses his reflexes when he doesnt play well, and also has a hard time tracking the puck. Its a tail of two different goalies in the same body. One drops down and watches pucks go over his glove are doesnt react to a cross ice pass near fast enough, the other gets in position quite well, and does a really good job of getting in front of the puck before the shot gets off.

    • Ted

      I’ve said this before … I think Talbot needs glasses ( contacts ) … His reactions say he has trouble seeing or following the puck!! There is definitely something wrong. Also the team in front of Talbot has lost their confidence in him. The team plays better in front of Mikko. Mikko controls the puck so much better than Talbot. Little or no rebounds from Mikko. The guy needing glasses can’t hold onto anything!!

  • Marcus

    QSP quality start percentage. Never heard that one before. Interesting.

    Dustin, I’m no advanced stats guy but even I know that Talbot’s 5 of 13 quality starts does not = QSP of 46%. Try 38%. Which happens to be even lower than Koskinen’s piddly 40%.

    Talbot is not playing well this year. The stats and everyone’s eyes tell them so. Ride your hottest goalie rest of year and hope for continued development of our goalie prospects. Evaluate at end of year.

  • TKB2677

    Part of it is the media are all Talbot guys. They still have 2016 on the brain and think he can do no wrong. 2016 was well over a year ago. Pro sports is “what have you done for me lately”. Secondly, Koskinen doesn’t always look “smooth” making a save, especially his glove hand. Quite frankly, I don’t care what he looks like making a save, just keep the puck out. So far he’s doing that. Hasek used to look like he was having a seizure at times when he made a save but somehow the puck didn’t go in. The only thing that should matter to the fans or the media is whoever is in the goal, they make the save. How that save happens or who’s doing it shouldn’t matter. Right now, Koskinen is making more saves.

  • Oil9744

    How many “stinkers” did Talbot let in this season already!? And all of last season!?? He’s still letting in the first shot of the game goals which is ridiculous and basically hasn’t been seen before in hockey as much as Talbot is letting those goals go in!!! You would have started Talbot last night!!!? ? On what planet does Talbot get the start over Koskinen last night against Montreal after his Craptacular performance against Colorado!!!!?? Wow!!..like I said I knew you writers were bad for favouring Talbot but it’s not even a debate anymore, Mikko has been better THIS season so far it’s his crease to lose, and don’t worry, I’m sure the second he has 1 bad game I know you guys will put up 13 articles on way Cam Talbot is so amazing and should be the starter again.