Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED each have linked the Edmonton Oilers with being the frontrunners to sign KHL goaltender Mikko Koskinen as the team’s backup to starter Cam Talbot. Koskinen, who has been playing with the KHL for the past six seasons, made his intentions known a couple of weeks ago that he’d like to take his talents back to the NHL.
The 29-year-old, who was a second-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2009, came overseas and played two games in the ECHL, 41 games in the AHL and four games with the Islanders, but struggled and eventually opted to return to Finland. In 31 games for SKA St. Petersburg, the goaltender posted a 1.89 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
Koskinen could be a good fit with Edmonton, assuming Talbot can rebound after a tough season. The starter went from a 2.39 GAA in 2016-17 and dropped to a 3.02 GAA this year. One key factor is the amount of games the veteran has played. Talbot has appeared in 153 games in two years if you include the 2017 playoffs. If Talbot can return to form, Koskinen could be a solid backup option where the team struggled last year. Laurent Brossoit started the year as the backup, but lost his job when he posted a 3.24 GAA. The team then traded for veteran Al Montoya, who didn’t fare much better with a 2.94 GAA in nine appearances. Montoya is the only backup who is under contract for next year at $1.06MM.
The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples writes that a backup goalie is essential to a team’s success and compares the potential signing to that of Anders Nilsson, who also struggled after being drafted by the Islanders and went overseas before signing with Edmonton. However, Nilsson struggled as a backup as well and was traded away later that same season. However, Koskinen has six years in the KHL under his belt and would be a far more likely option to be successful as a backup with the Oilers.
Friedman reported the news on Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada.