Since joining the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent during the 2018 offseason, Mikko Koskinen has drawn criticism from many due to his inconsistent play. At times, he appears to have all the makings of a very good NHL goaltender, but he can never seem to string together a series of great games. Perhaps even more frustrating to both fans and media alike is that while he is capable of making highlight-reel saves, he also gives up his fair share of very soft goals.
Despite the overall perception of him now, Oilers fans were quite high on him through the first half of the 2018-19 season, one in which he surpassed Cam Talbot as the team’s starter things to a solid 2.79 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .910 save percentage (SV%) prior to the All-Star Break.
Thanks to the solid play, former general manager Peter Chiarelli rewarded the goaltender with a three-year, $13.5 million extension. Since nearly the minute that deal was signed, things have gone downhill for the 6-foot-8 netminder, and plenty of the Oilers’ fanbase is ready to see him go. From the sounds of things, that may be exactly the case, as the 33-year-old is believed to have a deal in place overseas for the 2022-23 season.
Koskinen Linked to Lugano
According to SwissHockeynews.ch, Koskinen has a deal in place to play for HC Lugano in the National League (NL) out of Switzerland for the 2022-23 season. That said, it should be noted that Jeff Carter of the Pittsburgh Penguins was also rumored to be heading to Switzerland next season, but went on to sign a two-year extension with the Pens less than a week later.
In this case, however, Koskinen leaving the NHL may not be that farfetched. His numbers, aside from a solid 2019-20 season, are well below average when compared to other goaltenders around the league. It also doesn’t help that playing in a Canadian market comes with heavy scrutiny, leading many to believe he is worse than he is due to what they hear and read.
It does seem a bit odd that he wouldn’t wait at least some time to see if any NHL team calls come free agency, but perhaps he and his family wanted the security right now of knowing where they will be next fall rather than sitting around and waiting in what could have been a few stressful months. Nevertheless, it appears his time in the NHL will come to an end whenever the Oilers’ playoff run is over.
Average Goaltender with a Bad Contract
While Koskinen is by no means a starting netminder at the NHL level, he isn’t as bad as he has been made out to be by some over the past few years. Unfortunately, many have judged him on what he gets paid, which was to no fault of his own but simply one of many bad judgement errors by Chiarelli. If he were to have had a lower cap hit and been used properly as a backup, he wouldn’t have taken nearly as much flack as he has.
Though it wasn’t always pretty, Koskinen appeared in 45 games for the Oilers and put up a very solid 27-12-4 record. Sure, his personal stats of a 3.10 GAA along with a .903 SV% aren’t very appealing, a goaltender’s main job is to find ways to win games, and he as able to do that plenty this season. If this is indeed the last we have seen from the Finnish netminder, he will finish his NHL career with a record of 85-61-13 over his 169 games.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.