Islanders Grades: Mikko Koskinen, towering Finn of mystery

The fun of the report card game (which, by the way, we stole from Japers' Rink and modified to fit your screen), is getting a chance to review the season and also ponder what our expectations were back when the ice was still fresh and Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit had four good shoulders among them.

So Mikko Koskinen makes an interesting case, because everything about him carries an asterisk:

  • He had a standout season (.932 in 33 GP in Finland) in his draft year (*but it was late-bloom style, and 33 games is a small sample)
  • He's around 6'6" -- he should take up a lot of net (*or expose a big five hole)
  • He looked alright in 2009-10 (*but a hip injury limited him to just 8 pro games plus playoffs)
  • His numbers looked mostly awful in 2010-11 (*but on a bad team, and he was coming off hip surgery, also suffered a concussion, and will have surgery for a nagging wrist injury that hampered him since December)

At this point, that good season at age 20 in Finland looks like the anomaly. But he's only 22 and it's impossible to say how much injuries messed up his age 21 and 22 seasons. This is why we debate it here...


Mikko Koskinen 2010-11 GP Record Minutes GAA Save% EV Save%
Islanders (NHL)
4 2-1-0 208 4.33 .873 .867
Sound Tigers (AHL) 36 12-21-1 2063 3.49 .892 n/a

Koskinen's NHL stats are posted above strictly for record keeping, and they do look hideous. To be fair, it's not much to go on: He was thrown into his first NHL game when Kevin Poulin got hurt in warmups, which was the game where he bled goals the most. The next two games, he started and stopped 37 and 35 shots in victories over Montreal (shootout) and Pittsburgh (FightFest blowout). His final NHL game was the crazy Michael Grabner hat trick OT win against Buffalo, where he was yanked after four goals.

Those appearances weren't terribly confidence-instilling, but more alarming might be the sub-.900 save percentage over 36 games in the A, which was lower than Kevin Poulin (.932) or Nathan Lawson's (.913) AHL figures. But get this: His AHL save percentage this season was higher than Al Montoya's (.891) for AHL San Antonio. Montoya became the savior of March for the Isles.

Point being, context and teammates matter and we still don't really know what the Isles have in Mikko. It's worth noting Koskinen carried the load during Bridgeport's toughest and most injury-depleted "ATO of the Day" stretch of the season.

 

Random Highlight

For some reason this official clip doesn't show the angle that shows how close this was, but here is his on-the-line save against James Wisniewski:


 

The Poem (are there any Finnish reggae songs?)

Tomorrow Mikko, what is your best?
Tomorrow Mikko, how good is your hip?
Tomorrow Mikko, can height do the rest?
Tomorrow Mikko, will you protect the nest?

Tomorrow, tomorrow Mikko, watch him now,
Tomorrow, tomorrow Mikko...

~Ziggy Marley, who was neither Finnish nor 6'6", as far as I know.


The Grade

As with the report card for Ty Wishart, this is how the grading works: Think of your expectations in training camp for Koskinen. Then consider his season based on those expectations, and grade him based on how well he met him. So in the poll below, 10 means he couldn't possibly have exceeded your expectations more than he did, and 1 means he couldn't have possibly fallen further short. Etc.

This is all understanding that you may have had zero expectations for Koskinen, as you might not have expected them to need him at the NHL level, and you might not have figured anyone could win with that Bridgeport roster. Or you might have expected him to be the first call-up and a guy who put Bridgeport on his shoulders.

For discussion purposes, what are your current hopes for Mikko? Where do you see him fitting long term? Next year is the last season of his entry level contract, which pays $900k at the NHL level but $67,500 in the A.

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