DOOR OPENED FOR KOSKINEN: Mannino not QOed; Finn to attend prospect camp, sets goal of AHL


A highly placed source told Point Blank this morning that while Nathan Lawson has received a Qualifying Offer, fellow Bridgeport netminder Peter Mannino will not.


This opens the door for goaltender Mikko Koskinen, the Islanders’ second round pick (31st overall) on Saturday, to sign with the Islanders this summer and play for the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. A source close to the Finnish goaltender told us late last night that Koskinen will attend the Islanders’ Prospect Camp in two weeks and hopes an entry level contract can be finalized by the end of July.


A late bloomer passed up in three drafts before yesterday, the 6-7 goalie has an escape clause in his contract with Espoo of the Finnish League and plans on using it. Last season with Espoo, Koskinen – who will be 21 on July 18 – was 17-7-9 with a 1.91 goals against average and .931 save percentage.


Koskinen has true believers and detractors all over the game. One described him to PB as a “Steve Valiquette-type project who could be a nice backup,” while another countered, “_____ no, he has the potential to be a lot more than that. He could possibly develop into a No. 1 in 3-4 years.”


In an interview for the team’s website, chief European scout Vellu Pekka-Kautonen told Steve Mears of personally requesting Sudsie Maharaj to come to Finland to watch Koskinen. The goalie consultant saw him play 4 games in 8 nights and became a major advocate.


(Kautonen also says of Koskinen, “I’d say he’d need a half-season, full season in Bridgeport and then he’d be ready to play in the NHL.” Hey, easy does it with the hype, Vellu).


The Islanders have two goalie coaches in Mike Dunham and Maharaj to put the time in with Koskinen. They also have a head coach in Scott Gordon and GM in Garth Snow who were goaltenders. With the board to themselves when Saturday’s portion of the draft began, the Islanders passed up several top defense and forward prospects to grab Koskinen. To say a lot is riding on the pick is an understatement.


At least they know he’s committed to developing as an Islander in North America, beginning with Prospect Camp on Long Island in two weeks. And with Nathan Lawson currently the only goalie option in Bridgeport, there is a spot open for Koskinen.


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