Anyways, the Islanders' goaltending "issue" has been quite the topic for conversation as of late at Islanders Op-Timism. It came up at the Booster Club Meeting, and will continue to come up until Islanders' fans see improvement within the crease. Many fans are hesitant to go into next season with Evgeni Nabokov and Kevin Poulin. Some of us want Luongo or Bernier, and I absolutely see both options as a possibility.
Keep in mind that the future in net may not be decided this summer, though. There's just no way the Isles can commit honestly to a goaltender for the long-term if they do not see him as the right fit. The Islanders do have goalies in their prospect pool, but like the entire rebuild, patience is required for their development.
Well, Isles fans. If you truly aren't satisfied with that answer, you're probably thinking Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin are NOT the answers for any length of time. Both are unproven, and both had very tough years with the Islanders' affiliate up in Bridgeport. Admittedly, signs weren't exactly encouraging, but I guess we have to step back and look at the big picture. The Islanders' biggest goaltending prospect isn't even with us.
Remember Mikko Koskinen? Probably not....
Some of you may recall Koskinen. Mikko was the Islanders second-round pick (31st overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, selected higher than Anders Nilsson (3rd round in 2009) and Kevin Poulin (5th round 2008). During the 2010-11 season (you know, where the Isles used 7 goalies), Koskinen made his first, and only, four NHL appearances - his best start coming on an emergency call after Kevin Poulin went down to a freak knee injury during warm-ups. Mikko's numbers were balloon-like (4.33 GAA, .873 save %), but he came away with a winning record of 2-1-0. Why do I bring him into the picture, though? Because Mr. Koskinen was also mentioned at Monday's Booster Club Meeting.
And Snow also mentioned #Isles were happy with Koskinen's development overseas. He is getting minutes he needs & he is still in their plan.
— Joe Bondi (@Knight_of_Cups_) June 11, 2013
Before you say, "this guy already failed." disregard the numbers Koskinen put up during his first in North America.. Obviously, he wasn't NHL-ready, but he shouldn't have been expected to. His pro-experience spanned fewer than 35 games when he received his chance.
Anyways, the last we saw of Koskinen was at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. Mikko began the season in Bridgeport with Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson, creating a three-headed goalie dilemma. Koskinen wound up being the odd-man-out, and shipped off to KalPa in Finland.
The tides have changed.
The 6'6 goaltender has played in 74 games since he went back to Finland at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. Over those 74 games, Koskinen had grabbed hold of the starting job for KalPa Kuopio, and had, arguably, the best performance for a goaltender this season.
Through 49 games during the 2012-13 seaso, Koskinen posted 7 shutouts (2nd in the SM-liiga), a .919 save percentage (7th best for starting goaltenders), and a 2.05 GAA (third best for starting goaltenders).
His first season as a starting goaltender was a success, which is an encouraging sign for the Islanders. The largest goalie in their pipeline seems to be coming into his own, with his size providing him with an asset that several star goalies (Pekka Rinne comes to mind) use to their advantage.
Of course, Koskine signed a two-year deal with the Espoo Blues, keeping him in Finland through 2014-15. Like Garth Snow said, though, Koskinen is still an asset to the New York Islanders, and he's finally getting the experience that he never had when he came to North America for the 2009-10 season.
So, as we all decide that the Islanders need a goaltender for the future NOW, try to keep your eyes on the future. Koskinen may be the least known goalie prospect for the Islanders, but he may also be the last man standing when the team arrives in Brooklyn.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!