Note: Huh. This was supposed to go up last evening when the deal was announced, but ahhh AT&T Internet problems. Apologies.
The Islanders have signed the huge 21-year-old (in five days) Finnish goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a three-year entry level deal, and the first thing league followers will assume is that this means ominous things about Rick DiPietro's health. Or that this "sends a message" to DiPietro. Those are the two prevailing outsider theories that accompanied the Dwayne Roloson signing and the use of two picks on goalies at the draft.
Except: No. There is no update on DiPietro's health -- no patient in the country benefits from HIPAA more than an Islander, whose health info is guarded like the Manhattan Project. As far as we know (heh), DiPietro is still scheduled to resume "healthy" skating next month. But regardless, his health is no greater -- nor no less -- a concern than it was as the season ended, when the "crutches" and second surgery scuttlebutt. Which is to say he "should" be ready early next season, by the Islanders' sunny projections -- but also to say that any goaltender who has had multiple knee and hip surgeries requires hefty insurance, period.
So it wouldn't matter if DP were doing somersaults on the ice in May, or whether he'll still be working his way back in November. Either way, his injury history demands that the Islanders have legitimate protection at the position, pretty much through the rest of DiPietro's career. And that's what they've done, finally, this summer. Next season is why they signed Roloson this month. Seasons after is why they drafted the 6'5" Koskinen last month.
So who is Mikko Koskinen, why is he listed at two different heights (sometimes 6'7"), and why should he make you feel like the Islanders will be okay even if DiPietro never regains his health and form?
|Mikko Koskinen ||GP||MIN||W||L||T||EGA||GA||GAA||SA||SV||SV%||SO|
|2004-05 (Espoo U18/FIN)||-||-||-||-||-||-||3.93||-||-||.867||-|
|2005-06 (Espoo U18/FIN)||3||-||-||-||-||-||-||5.07||-||-||.883||-|
|2007-08 (Espoo U20/FIN)||20||1,175||-||-||-||-||-||2.30||-||-||.907||2|
|2008-09 (Espoo U20/FIN)||9||545||-||-||-||-||-
*Note: stats compiled from several sources, not all of which match up. Save pct. and GAA is consistent, but shot and win/loss records don't always jibe.
First, Koskinen is one of two interesting goalies the Islanders just drafted -- the other being Anders Nilsson -- both of whom impressed coach Scott Gordon at this week's prospect mini-camp. Gordon doesn't sugarcoat player appraisals, and we learned last year that the ex-goaltender is particularly hard on goalies. For him to praise them repeatedly in a mere minicamp is eye-opening.
Using their round-opening 2nd- and 3rd-round picks on these two Nordic goalies, the Islanders have a lot riding on them turning up big. Even in the utopian world where DiPietro is fine and dandy forever (note: No HIPAA violations were recorded in that clause), one of these goalies making it would at least turn them into a juicy trade chip.
But it's obviously quite premature to say Koskinen might have been "the steal of the draft." For one, the #31 overall pick is hardly throwaway gamble territory. But as a late-blooming, more mature goaltending prospect, he may turn out to be an informed pick. (And he's Finnish!) The Islanders believe his impressive stats last season were a sign of him figuring out how to play in his big frame. Now he's coming overseas to the AHL to figure out how to play that big frame on our small rinks. If he adjusts quickly, it wouldn't be a shock to see him get NHL exposure when old man Roloson gets a bump or young man DiPietro has a relapse.
More on Koskinen:
He's the dude whose butt brushes up against the crossbar -- literally -- when he's in a standard crouch:
Hockey's Future says that while he has learned to use his big size to position well and block out the sun, the concern is his quickness and whether he'll be able to react to faster shots and more accurate snipers in North America. That's no small matter -- and the difference between "steal" and "bust."
Oh, and as for the height thing: official sources list him at 6'5", but Logan has put him at 6'7" a few times, which is how he's listed at the Euro-focused Elite Prospects. Go figure. Or, ya know, go measure.