The Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending situation became more uncertain Monday when Mikko Koskinen decided to play in Switzerland next season.
Koskinen, who could have become an unrestricted free agent July 13, signed a two-year contract with HC Lugano. The 33-year-old went 27-12-4 with a 3.10 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in 45 games (43 starts) this season, and 0-2 with a 4.02 GAA and .897 save percentage in three Stanley Cup Playoff games.
The Oilers (49-27-6) finished second in the Pacific Division this season and reached the Western Conference Final, where they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
Mike Smith, who started all 16 postseason games for Edmonton (8-6, 3.37 GAA, .913 save percentage, two shutouts), is 40 and said last week he was not sure about his future. He has one season remaining on a two-year contract ($ 2.2 million average annual value).
Smith went 16-9-2 with a 2.81 GAA and .915 save percentage in 28 games (27 starts) during the regular season, due to a variety of injuries that limited him to five games in the first half.
“Mike Smith and [Koskinen], they dug in for us all year, “Oilers general manager Ken Holland said on June 7.” You do not make the playoffs in the NHL without getting good goaltending. But certainly, Smith, he’s 40 years old. He gave us everything that he could and I got to meet with him to see what he feels he’s got in his tank. … He knows his body, and we’ve got to gather some information, but certainly, I know that I’ve got to make some decisions between now and when we get to camp. “
Holland also said he did not think Edmonton had a bona fide No. 1 goalie.
“We have two 1As, a 1A and a 1B,” he said. “How do I describe 1A and 1B? The guys that can play 40-45 games. A No. 1 goalie to me can play 55-60. What are there in the League, 10 or 12 of those? I do not know if any of them are available.I haven’t worked the phone.
“Do I want a No. 1 goalie, a stud that can play [a big number of games]? Yeah. I think 32 teams want that. [But] “I’m going to try to figure out a way to make our team the best that we can make it heading into September.”
Holland said Stuart Skinner is “certainly a guy who’s in our plans” for next season. Selected by Edmonton in the third round (No. 78) of the 2017 NHL Draft, the 23-year-old goalie went 6-6-0 with a 2.62 GAA, .913 save percentage and one shutout in 13 games (12 starts) . He played the majority of the season with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League and was 22-7-5 with a 2.21 GAA and .920 save percentage in 35 regular-season games.
Koskinen was selected by the New York Islanders in the second round (No. 31) of the 2009 NHL Draft. He is 85-60-13 with a 3.01 GAA, .906 save percentage and six shutouts in 168 regular-season games (157 starts) with the Oilers and Islanders, and 1-4 with a 3.42 GAA and .892 save percentage in seven playoff games (three starts).
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report