Edmonton Oilers: It’s Time For Mikko Koskinen To Go

As far as I’m concerned, the biggest issue on the Edmonton Oilers right now is Mikko Koskinen. Yes, it’s a bold statement and I’m sure others will disagree, but Koskinen has had issues that go back prior to this season holding him back in his career.

Fortunately, his contract is up after this season, so assuming Holland doesn’t trade him at the deadline he can let him walk at the end of the season for nothing.

There are many reasons why it’s best for the Oilers to move on from Koskinen, and frankly at this point the sooner the better but realistically he may play out the season.

Let’s go through some of those reasons now:

1) He’s 33 years old

That’s pretty old for an NHL player and buttresses up pretty quick against what is the “age of doom” for most NHL players, which is 35.

Mike Smith will be 40 next season and so it is essential the Oilers don’t go with the incumbents at that point, as Smith will badly need a younger guy to spell him off.

Koskinen can sign somewhere else, or go back to Finland and finish his career back there at this point, I don’t care. But a 33-year-old should not be backing up a 39-year-old especially when his numbers have taken as much of a nosedive as Koskinen’s have this season (more on that later).

2) He’s not a Holland recruit

GMs typically like to bring their own players into an organization – with certain exceptions, of course – like Holland won’t trade away Connor Mcdavid or Leon Draisaitl anytime soon despite the fact that neither player was recruited on his watch.

Koskinen has the dubious distinction of being the final transaction Chiarelli conducted before he was fired literally the next day. By that time, of course, Chiarelli had become a bit of an isolated megalomaniac, shutting out all the other advice his colleagues in the management ranks were giving him.

Not too many of Chiarelli’s guys left that aren’t producing – and Koskinen is one of the last.

3)  It’s looking more and more like his replacement is already on the roster

Stuart Skinner – after breaking through last season to get one start to give Koskinen a rest – became more of a mainstay on the roster this season with Mike Smith injured so much. Small sample size, of course, but he’s looked very good in the 10 games he’s played for the Oilers this season.

It’s also worth noting that Skinner is ~ 9.5 years younger than Koskinen. And – who better for Skinner to learn from than Mike Smith? Anyway, Skinner’s play has only magnified the baggage that Koskinen carries around with him.

4)  He’s struggled with inconsistency more so this season than previous ones

Koskinen’s always had issues with consistency in the NHL, but this season has been one of his worst as far as inconsistency.

He got off to a great start earlier in the season with a .920 sv% but that’s since nosedived to .900, barely competent levels of NHL goaltending.

That’s not good enough for a team that’s trying to take the next step from playoff contender to Cup contender.

Now in Koski’s defence, yes he hasn’t received the support from the skaters at times this season, but that’s when a goaltender needs to be able to steal a game for his teammates, to inspire them to do better for him next time. I can’t remember a time when he’s done that this season – and certainly not lately.

5)  The disturbing trends in his game

One trend in his game that’s popped up this season is a seeming tendency towards giving up the first goal of the game in short order, which is not a recipe for your team’s success.

Then there’s his aforementioned inconsistency, which has dogged him his entire NHL career save for his career year, 2019-20.

Then there’s his tendency to give up soft goals, again something that has dogged him his entire career.

For a while, he had a weak glove hand, although we haven’t heard much about that lately, so not sure whether it’s still true or not.

Of all the things that have to improve this season, the first one has to be Koskinen, or he should be ushered out the door, either by trade, being waived to the AHL, or loaned to Finland for the rest of the season.