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Edmonton Oilers player review and 2021-22 preview: Mikko Koskinen

Welcome to the 2020-21 season review and 2021-22 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season and previewing the 2021-22 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.

Oh, Mikko.

A tumultuous 2020-21 campaign has soured many on the Oilers netminder. You can’t blame the player for securing the bag and taking the $4.5-million AAV, three-year deal management offered him.

Sure, Koskinen had a rough year — there’s no sugar-coating it. He started the season as virtually the Oilers only goaltender with Mike Smith recovering from an injury. He held the fort admirably keeping the Oilers in some tight games. When Smith returned, Koskinen was sent to the wayside.

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Among 43 goalies who played >1000 minutes last year at 5×5, Koskinen ranked 39th in save percentage (.903), 38th in goals saved above average (-8.86), and 37th in high danger save percentage (0.800).

On the penalty kill, Koskinen was actually very strong last year. Among 42 goalies who played over 100 penalty kill minutes, Koskinen ranked 12th in save percentage (0.880), 13th in goals saved above average (1.63), and 10th in high danger save percentage (0.829).

Smith was better than Koskinen last year, much better. So much so that the Edmonton Oilers were looking to move on from him this past offseason, but nothing formulated.

He comes into the 2021-22 season once again eyeing down splitting games with Smith. But this year, it’s going to be crucial for him to find his game again. Back in an 82-game season this year, there’s no way that Smith can play the 60-plus games that a true, elite number one goaltender can play.

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More likely than not, Koskinen is going to be asked to play a more significant role this season. And truth be told I think there’s a good chance he can rebound.

Here’s how Koskinen and Smith compare over the last two seasons.

At 5×5:

GP SV% Shots against/60 GAA GSAA
Smith 71 .912 29.07 2.55 -2.33
Koskinen 64 .915 32.34 2.74 2.65

And in all situations:

Smith 71 .912 30.08 2.65 2.38
Koskinen 64 .910 33.18 2.94 -.77

Over a larger body of work, Koskinen’s game has been solid and that’s exactly what the Oilers need this year. It’s not unreasonable to expect them to make a trade and bring in some more help, either, as Sportsnet’s Eliiotte Friedman reported this week the team may not be done there.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

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