How incredible would it be if a goaltender who everyone, including possibly the Edmonton Oilers, had written off as a lost cause stuck around for another couple of seasons? That might be exactly what happens with the Oilers and netminder Mikko Koskinen, who is undoubtedly making a case as a goalie who the Oilers should at least consider offering an extension.
Koskinen Has Come On Strong
In the face of adversity and despite being the whipping-post for so many fans this season, Koskinen has quietly gone out and had a fairly solid season. He’s 25-10-4 on the season, has a 3.04 goals against average backstopping a team that isn’t known to be that effective and shutting down the opposition and he’s got a .904 save percentage. In his most recent starts — sans a blowout against the Calgary Flames — Koskinen has been downright incredible, highlighted by a 33-save performance and a .971 save percentage against the best team in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
No doubt, Koskinen was the reason the Oilers took a point out of that game. He’s also started to show up and perform in ways that are leading fans to believe the Oilers could make some noise in the playoffs and that he’s got the kind of stuff that could actually give the organization the netminding they need in the postseason.
Like any netminder, he hasn’t been perfect, but Koskinen certainly hasn’t been as inconsistent as most fans labeled him from the outset of an ultra-important season.
Koskinen Might Be One of the Better Offseason Options
A crop of really strong goalies this summer there is not. Darcy Kuemper — who also played great for the Avs on Saturday and is a free agent that Edmonton will likely look into this summer — is one of the few big names out there Edmonton can go after if they want to improve their goaltending situation this offseason. Jack Campbell is another, as is Marc-Andre Fleury. All three aren’t rumored to be looking to leave their current situations and if they are, someone like Fleury is likely to go back to Pittsburgh, not join the Oilers.
Koskinen is actually one of the few goalies that teams might look at as a potential addition. He’s a pending UFA and the Oilers aren’t the only club that needs a netminder. While fans in Edmonton have been keen to suggest the franchise needs something better, other teams have likely been watching Koskinen and wondering if he’d be a solid option for them.
The answer is that he probably would be, and he’s a pretty good 1A option that shouldn’t be overly expensive to acquire.
Koskinen Could Be The “Affordable Choice”
Should he continue to play well and go on a run in the playoffs, Koskinen isn’t likely going to put himself in a situation where he costs more than his current $4.5 million salary. Something incredible would have to happen, like him taking the Oilers on a deep run and playing outstanding hockey for three-or-more rounds to get a big bump in pay. That has value to the Oilers who have a player like Stuart Skinner waiting in the wings and other commitments for their limited salary cap.
Mike Smith has come on a little of late too, which is good news considering the Oilers are likely stuck with him for at least one more season. If Edmonton can tie up Koskinen for one or two more years, and at a reasonable number, they can potentially get some other housekeeping items looked after while setting the stage for Skinner and some of the younger goalie prospects to come in and eventually take over.
It’s Not Ideal, But It Is An Option
Regardless of the way Koskinen ends this season, the history of the netminder is that he can’t and likely won’t sustain this level of play. That’s the concern here for Ken Holland who has to be cautious about how much stock he puts into this recent run of solid performances. That said, having Koskinen play well and giving the Oilers an option is a lot better situation than Koskinen not playing well and the team knowing they have to move on when the 2021-22 campaign is over.
The Oilers need reliable goaltending and Koskinen needs to stay hot to get the deal he wants this offseason. It’s a scenario that works well for both parties if things play out that way. It gives the Oilers options and Koskinen a choice as a free agent. Prior to him going on a run, neither side probably felt as though things were headed in any direction but a divorce.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”