Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said he was pleased with Ville Husso’s play this season. Husso had moments when he looked like a solution, not a problem, for this team.
However, there are too many numbers telling Yzerman that his goaltending needs improvement next season.
“We need to be better,” Yzerman said. “Are our best options within, including…young guys? Or is it looking at other options. Right now, looking around the league, every team is looking to improve in one area, whether it be their starter or backup.”
The Red Wings ranked 22nd in team goals-against average (3.35) and 26th in team save percentage (.894). None of the Detroit goalies fared well in the IcyData.com rankings of goalies for Goals Prevented Above the Average. Boston’s Linus Ullmark, the likely Vezina Trophy winner, led the league in that measurable a +51.30. Fifty-three goalies had numbers on the plus-side. Husso ranked 92nd at -10.3, while his backup Magnus Hellberg was -6.19. Alex Nedeljkovic was at -3.43.
Supply and Demand
Some argue all goalie numbers, including Goals Prevented Above the Average, is really a team number. But there are goalies who played on poor teams that show favorable numbers. For example, the Flyers finished 26th in the NHL, and their goalie Carter Hart was at +6.88 for Goals Prevented Above Average to go with a .906 save percentage.
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Alex Stalock and Arizona Coyotes goalie Connor Ingram had better numbers than Detroit goalies.
Yzerman’s problem in trying to improve his goaltending in the free agent market is demand exceeds supply.
“The goaltending market is somewhat thin,” Yzerman said. “Whether we go back with the same three, we need to be better. That goes for all three of them. But ultimately as a team we need to be better to help them out, too. I think we did reduce the Grade A chances we gave up this year. We need to continue to bring that down, make it a little bit easier on them.”
Here is a look at some of the best possible options in the free agent market:
The 29-year-old Finn played well for the Los Angeles Kings down the stretch and into the postseason. The Kings should want to re-sign him and a few other teams will as well. The Red Wings probably won’t measure up if Korpisalo is doing comparison shopping.
One school of thought is a new Penguins general manager will want to shake-up the roster by saying goodbye to Jarry. But if Jarry goes to free agency, who can the Penguins land to replace him? But even if he does test the market, Jarry won’t want to come to Detroit to share time on a team that has missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.
Played well for Vegas this season. He’s only 26. Could be a dependable backup for Husso. Can carry the load if Husso is hurt. He was 25-16-7 for Vegas this season. He played 25 games for San Jose. His career save percentage is .910.
He’s 35 and has interest in staying with the Islanders. At least, that’s the scuttlebutt. He is a proven goalie, and he would be an intriguing get if he was willing to sign a one-year deal.
Don’t believe the Red Wings will re-sign him, but can’t rule it out because the goalie market doesn’t have much in the way of freshness. The Red Wings do like Nedeljkovic and appreciated the fact that he went down to Grand Rapids and did what he could to help the Griffins and his teammates. He played sharply for them and for the Red Wings when he was recalled on an emergency basis late in the season. But here is a question that has to be answered: How well could Nedejkovic handle playing a backup role were he would only play every eight or nine days? Not everyone can do that. Nedeljkovic seems to be sharper when he plays regularly. Perhaps there’s a trade option that the Red Wings can explore.