The biggest question mark for the Oilers heading into the 2021-22 season is the team’s goaltending duo of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen.
This will be the pair’s third tour of duty with the team. In 2019-20, Smith was up and down, posting a .902 save percentage with some excellent hot streaks and terrible cold stretches, while Koskinen was very solid, posting a .917 save percentage. In 2021, Smith was the team’s rock, putting up a .923 save percentage while Koskinen struggled with a heavy early-season load, putting up a .899 save percentage.
What can we expect this season?
The Smith and Koskinen tandem has been good enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but the team hasn’t advanced out of the first round.
According to Mike McKenna, who ranked all 32 tandems over at Daily Faceoff, Oilers fans shouldn’t be all too optimistic about Smith and Koskinen. McKenna also believes that the Oilers will be active in the goalie market during the season…
26. Edmonton Oilers: Mike Smith & Mikko Koskinen
After last season’s 21-6-2 performance, it’s borderline insulting to have Mike Smith this far down the list. He posted some of the best traditional and advanced numbers of his long NHL career. Smith’s game looks cleaner than ever and his puckhandling is a perfect match for the highly skilled Oilers. Koskinen was the polar opposite of Smith, only winning 50 percent of his starts. I’d expect Edmonton to be active in the goalie market.
The goalie duos that McKenna has beneath Edmonton are Philadelphia (Carter Hart and Martin Jones), Boston (Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman), San Jose (Adin Hill and James Reimer), Buffalo (Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski), Ottawa (Matt Murray and Anton Forsberg), and Arizona (Carter Hutton).
It’ll be interesting to see how this duo does in 2021-22. I would guess that Koskinen has a better showing than he did last year since he won’t have to take on playing a full month’s worth of games consecutively but I also figure Smith will regress from his excellent showing over the course of a normal 82-game season.
Another thing to watch, as McKenna noted, is the Oilers possibly looking for an in-season upgrade. The team was reportedly in the mix for Darcy Kuemper but he wound up getting traded to Colorado for a hefty price tag. Another option if Ken Holland is willing to spend could be Anaheim’s John Gibson.