We are just over the half way point of the 2018-2019 regular season and goaltender Mikko Koskinen has already earned himself a brand new contract extension. The 30-year-old netminder has been great for Edmonton this season after having gotten off to a rocky and unsettling start. He has been relied upon against tough competition and certainly has not disappointed while doing so.
Koskinen is playing his first full season in the NHL after coming over from the Finnish Liiga this offseason. He was drafted in the second round (31st overall) by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Koskinen was expected to back up Cam Talbot who struggled last season but is starting to be relied on more and more as the season continues to go on.
Both Talbot and Koskinen have each played 27 games so far this season, however, Talbot started 25 of those which was one more played then Koskinen. Talbot has struggled this season and his numbers are further proof of this, especially when they are compared to the numbers that Koskinen has put up. Talbot has a 3.27 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. Koskinen, on the other hand, has put up much stronger numbers this season with a 2.78 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
Koskinen’s contract is worth $13.5 million for the next three years while it also includes an AAV of $4.5 million. What makes his situation all the more interesting is the fact that Cam Talbot is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and has not been signed to an extension just yet. Koskinen’s new deal questions what the Oilers may plan to do with Talbot who is struggling between the pipes yet again for a second straight season.
$4.5 million for three years does not seem like a hefty price to pay for Koskinen’s services, especially when you take into account his performance so far this season. If he can keep up his performance for the rest of this season and onward for the remainder of his contract, then this deal will go down as one of Chirelli’s better moves, but as we all know, goaltenders are not always very consistent, especially for the Oilers. Cam Talbot has actually been one of the Oilers most consistent goaltenders in recent memory.
His numbers through 27 games this season are out of character for him and may not be a true indicator or his game. Before the 2018-2019 regular season, Cam Talbot had a career .914 save percentage as a member of the Oilers. It is unclear whether or not Talbot looks to be in their long-term plans, but by the looks of this signing, things are getting less and less likely for Talbot to be suiting up for Edmonton long-term.
It is possible that Talbot could be shopped as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent and likely will not want to play backup for Koskinen who is doing a great job in stealing the starting goaltender job for the Oilers.
It was clear after last season that the Oilers needed a strong backup defender which led to management persuading Mikko Koskinen as a European free agent, and so far, it has looked like it was exactly the right choice. Signing Koskinen may leave Cam Talbot’s future in Edmonton in jeopardy, but for the team, they may see it as being worth the risky chance.
It gives the Oilers a solid goaltender at a reasonable cap hit and the option to trade a rental veteran goaltender who could handle a strong workload. Talbot would likely command a slight raise from his current contract which carries an AAV of $4,166,667 million which the Oilers likely would not want to pay considering that they are keen in bringing a star winger in to play with McDavid and are also known to be interested in adding a defensemen.
Although Talbot has a Modified No Trade Clause, he may be willing to waive it for a chance to raise his value ahead of free agency. The Koskinen signing comes on the same day that the Edmonton Oilers place Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers, transactions that may have likely been done in order to free up cap space as the trade deadline is quickly approaching.
Edmonton is pushing for a spot in the playoffs right now and if Mikko Koskinen can help get them there, then he will surely become a fan favourite very quickly and help prove to both fans and management that he is the right choice in net going forward for the Oilers.