GM Steve Yzerman wants to improve the Detroit Red Wings competitiveness this offseason and he started that process Friday by acquiring goalie Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues.
The Red Wings gave Husso a three-year deal worth an average of $4.75 million per season.
“We think he can come in and solidify the tandem with Alex (Nedeljkovic),” Yzerman said. “We think we’ve got two guys we can put in the net every night and give us a reasonably good chance to win.”
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Nedeljkovic played 59 games last season, and the NHL trend has been to keep goalies closer to 55.
“There’s a handful of goalies that play 60 games, maybe 62 but not that many,” Yzerman said. “You look at some parts of the schedule, we go every second day. Ideally, you have a great starter and a great backup. We think we have two young guys that can go in and play. How we divide up games — I’m sure performance will dictate that a bit. But they’re both gonna play.”
Nedeljkovic is 26 and Husso is 28. Alex Nedeljkovic has played 88 NHL games, while Husso has 64 on his resume.
The Finnish goalie Husso turned heads last season with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in 40 games for St. Louis. He stole the Blues’ starting job from Jordan Binnington, although Binnington won it back in the playoffs.
Yzerman didn’t want to wait until July 13 to make a run at acquiring Husso.
“There’s more teams that need goalies than there are actual goalies available,” Yzerman said. “We elected to use a draft pick to try and secure one now.”
Yzerman said the Husso doesn’t mean the Red Wings won’t extend Nedeljkovic’s contract at some point. Nedeljkovic is in the last season of a pact paying him $3 million. He will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Red Wings also signed Finnish goalie Jussi Olkinuora who played last season in the Kontinental Hockey League. He’s on a two-way contract that would still pay him $375,000 if he is sent to the American Hockey League.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Cossa, their prize prospect goalie, will be headed to Grand Rapids next season to launch his professional career. The Red Wings also have Victor Brattstrom signed for Grand Rapids. The Griffins have also signed former Michigan State goalie John Lethemon for the team. Detroit’s goalie collection is complete.