The excitement of the Edmonton Oilers’ signing of KHL goaltender Mikko Koskinen wore off quickly. As The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis points out, Koskinen’s $2.5MM cap hit on his one-year deal now looks like a major over-payment compared to a more recent deal for an import goalie. When the Colorado Avalanche signed Pavel Francouz yesterday, they got a better goalie for considerably less. Francouz’s deal with the Avs is also for one year, but for just $690K. Yet, Francouz was the best keeper in the KHL this year with a .946 save percentage and 1.80 GAA in 35 appearances for Traktor Chelyabinsk. With no disrespect to Koskinen, who was very good as well, the new Oiler had a .937 save percentage and split time with young Igor Shestyorkin, playing in just 29 games, yet will make more than triple what Francouz does next season. In fairness, Koskinen did have superior GAA this year (1.57) and has a small amount of NHL experience, but that does not totally make up for the $1.81MM difference between the two contracts. To add another layer, Francouz is also a younger and more athletic goalie than Koskinen and likely has a brighter long-term future in the NHL. Admittedly, the Oilers signed Koskinen first, so this could me more of a case of Colorado GM Joe Sakic getting his man for below-market value, but it seems more likely that it goes along with the trend of Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli setting his sights on a player and not considering fair value or alternative options. Past results of these decisions have not worked out well for the Oilers, but we will have to wait for next season to see how the Koskinen signing pans out.
- In digging deeper into another recent transaction, today’s Marcus Kruger–Jordan Martinook trade has some scratching their heads. Given the team is currently operating without a GM, it is truly impressive that the Carolina Hurricanes seemingly came out on top in this deal in all aspects. Not only was Kruger available to the Arizona Coyotes for free earlier this year, but they gave up Martinook to get Kruger, who is much like a younger, better version of Kruger. The two forwards are both known for their two-way ability, but Martinook has 64 points in 239 games over the last three seasons compared to Kruger’s 44 points in 247 games over the past four years combined. At nearly 28 years old, Kruger’s career high in points is 28 with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013-14 and he has never recorded double-digit goals, while the 25-year-old Martinook reached his career best of 25 points just last year, including 11 goals. Martinook has just as many 20+ point seasons as Kruger in only three full NHL seasons exclusively playing for the lowly Coyotes, while Kruger has spent almost his entire career with the dynastic Blackhawks. Defensively, Kruger does have the advantage of being a natural center who does well at the dot most years and is a positive possession player, but Martinook is far more physical and great along the boards, not to mention he has been the Coyotes’ best takeaways man since entering the league. Unlike past deals where the Coyotes took on a bad contract from another team in exchange for draft capital or prospects, Martinook will actually make less in salary than Kruger next season and even with the Hurricanes’ retention of a tenth of Kruger’s deal, the money essentially cancels out. So why make this deal? Arizona GM John Chayka must have a good reason, but on its face the only benefit to the Coyotes is a jump of 20-odd draft slots this June from the top of the fourth round to the middle of the third round.