More transactions! What a day this is turning out to be. According to Elliotte Freidman, the Oilers have inked Mikko Koskinen to a three-year extension worth $4.5 million annually.
Hearing EDM re-signing Koskinen to a three-year deal at $4.5M AAV
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 21, 2019
Mikko Koskinen extension with #oilers:
2020-2021: $3.3M+$500,000 SB
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 21, 2019
Koskinen was given a one-year, prove yourself deal in the off-season by the Oilers worth just $2.5 million. Since then, he’s taken the net from Cam Talbot, posting a .911 save percentage over 27 appearances. There have been rumours that the Oilers are willing to trade Talbot to open up cap room, and, given Koskinen’s new extension, it’s very clear which direction the organization wants to go when it comes to goalies.
At a glance, this is a very rich deal for a goalie without much of a track record. Koskinen, a second-round pick of the Islanders who has spent most of his career in the KHL, has played just 31 games at the NHL level. But this is pretty much the going rate for solid NHL goalies, which Koskinen has proved, albeit in a small sample size, that he is this year.
A $4.5 million cap hit would rank Koskinen 20th among goalies in the NHL this year, right in between Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and St. Louis’ Jake Allen. Cam Talbot is a virtually identical case to Koskinen. Talbot, who also didn’t have much of a track record, signed a three-year deal worth $4,166,667 half-way through his first season with the Oilers.
Given his down season, the Oilers could easily afford to bring Talbot back next year on a short-term deal to maintain this goaltending duo if they wanted to. Otherwise, Edmonton’s free agent options include names like Mike Smith, Cam Ward, Anders Nilsson, Antti Niemi, and Michael Hutchinson.
As I said, this isn’t really bad money for a solid NHL goalie. The question, of course, is whether Koskinen is actually a solid NHL goalie. He has been for 27 games this year, but many times in the past have we seen goalies play very well over a small sample size. That said, Koskinen is a free agent at the end of the season, and if he does play really well down the stretch and help the Oilers into a playoff spot, he’ll only be raising his market value. This is a big risk for the Oilers to take on a player they clearly believe in.