10:45 pm – “Mikko’s going to go to Binghamton for a game with the Sound Tigers and wonder what happened to the rest of the rink.”
That was Scott Gordon tonight, talking about freshly-signed Mikko Koskinen. I wanted to speak to Scott about his goalie prospects because the signing of the 2009 second round pick made it timely. But also because of this eyebrow-raiser comment of his after the scrimmage on Sunday:
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a camp anywhere like this where you’d see the quality of goaltending we have here now.
In his rookie season as head coach, Gordon threw around compliments about his goalies like manhole covers.
“The entire time I was in the Boston Bruins organization, we had some quality players like Tuukka Rask, but we never had the quality of goaltending prospects we have here,” the Islanders head coach said tonight.
In Prospect minicamp this week are Koskinen, 2009 third round pick Anders Nilsson, 2008 fifth round pick Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson, a pleasant surprise last season with the Sound Tigers. The Islanders also recently signed free agent netminder Scott Munroe from the Flyers organization.
“The biggest thing for me is, they haven’t shown that they’re not capable,” said Gordon, a former goaltender. “They’re not doing the sort of things you see when goalies aren’t ready or capable…flopping around, rolling around, diving around. They’re under control and playing smart. Collectively, they look terrific.”
Gordon’s snapshot of each…
Koskinen: “This is not a guy who is green. He’s played against top-calibre competition in the Finnish League. He’s almost 21. I’m excited that he’s signed and want to see how he comes around this season. The ability is certainly there.”
Nilsson: “No matter how good you are, size is a big weapon. Nilsson and Koskinen, they use it to their advantage. They’re technically sound. They’re in the right spots and letting the puck hit them. Nilsson’s only 18 so he’ll have time to develop back home, but these are two good young goalies.”
Lawson: “He made an immediate impact in Bridgeport. That was impressive. He’s continued it with a good week with us.”
Poulin: “Thought he had an excellent first camp with us last September. He might have been able to get some games after his Quebec League season ended, but we decided to hold off. Talented, more than capable.”
Munroe: “I know him from Philadelphia. He’s been a real solid AHL goalie for a few years. This is a good opportunity for him.”
I asked Gordon about Koskinen’s determination to play in the Islanders’ system right away.
“That was great to see, how much he wanted to be in Bridgeport” said the coach. “He’s right. There are a lot of differences between the big sheets in Europe and the small rinks here. The plays develop quickly. He’s going to see more shots. He’s going to see that arena in Binghamton and think he’s on the small rink at Iceworks.”
ETC: Turns out Koskinen was signed today because he had to be signed by Wednesday. A league source told Point Blank tonight that there was a July 15 deadline in Koskinen’s contract with Espoo in the Finnish League. If the Islanders failed to sign him by Wednesday, he would have been contractually obligated to play one more year back home.
Comments on Islanders goaltending prospects here.