Detroit Hockey Now’s Red Wings Review series is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recently-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature Ville Husso
2022-23 totals (GP-W-L-OT-GAA-SA%): 56-26-22-7-3.11-.896
Contract Status: Signed through the 2024-25 season at an AAV of $4.75 million.
The Red Wings acquired Ville Husso in a trade with the St. Louis Blues. The thinking was that he and Alex Nedeljkovic would form a solid netminding tandem. However, when Nedeljkovic struggled out of the gate, Husso picked up the ball and ran with it.
What a save by Ville Husso! 🥵 pic.twitter.com/uirqfHq6BT
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 24, 2023
“There were times during the first half of the year that he may have been our most valuable player and he showed signs of being a legit No. 1,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said.
2022-23 Red Wings Highlights
Husso set career highs for wins (26), shutouts (4) and games (56) in his first season with Detroit. In all began in glorious fashion. Husso stopped all 29 shots he faced in his Red Wings debut on Oct. 14 vs. Montréal. He is only the second goaltender in franchise history to post a shutout in their debut, joining Dave Gatherum who did so on Oct. 11, 1953 vs. Toronto.
Ville HusSO! 🙅♂️
— NHL (@NHL) April 5, 2023
He also became the fifth goaltender in franchise history to record two shutouts within his first seven starts with the Red Wings, joining Kevin Hodson (2 in 5), Wilf Cude (2 in 5), Dolly Dolson (2 in 7) and Hap Holmes (2 in 4). Husso is one of three goaltenders in Red Wings/Falcons/Cougars history to record three shutouts prior to their 15th appearance with the franchise, joining Holmes (4 in 1926-27) and Dolson (3 in 1928-29).
Additionally, Husso became the eighth goaltender to win at least five of his first seven appearances in a Detroit uniform, following Ty Conklin (6-1-0 in 2008-09), Dominik Hasek (6-1-0 in 2001-02), Manny Legace (6-1-0 from 1999-00 to 2000-01) and Vincent
Riendeau (6-0-0 from 1991-92 to 1992-93) as the only Red Wings netminders to do so in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68).
The Red Wings were 11-1-2 in games in which Husso made 32 or more saves.
“I think Ville had a very good season,” Detroit GM Steve Yzerman said. “It’s the most games he’s played in the NHL. He won a lot of games for us and I think he’ll be better for it.”
2022-23 Red Wings Lowlights
Husso would close out the season 1-6-1 with a 3.77 GAA and .839 save percentage. The poor finish would see his overall season numbers slump to 3.11 GAA and .896 save percentage.
The Wings talked cryptically at the time about Husso dealing with a lingering lower-body issue, believed to be a hip problem. But Husso wasn’t willing to put the blame for his late-season slide on the injury.
“I think I just needed to be better at the end of the day,” Husso said. “I’m not happy at all how it ended. I feel like there was a chance I wouldn’t play when there were like 10 games left and I wanted to come back and play more games.
“I’m not happy how it ended and it’s something I need to improve for next year.”
Lalonde thought his goalie’s end-of-season slide was a combination of two factors – his ailment and overall fatigue from playing a career-high in minutes.
“I think it was a little bit of both,” Lalonde said. “He was dealing with a lower-body issue, hence him missing three weeks of the season. I’m glad he was able to get back, but you saw the Ville after the three weeks was nowhere near the Ville when he was peaking towards the middle of the season.
“So I think there was a little mental, physical fatigue there, plus maybe his lower body underlying issue a little bit. But towards the end of the year he was healthy and available to us. I think he hit a little bit of a physical and mental wall.”
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
Husso is spending his entire offseason in Detroit. He’s working on refining his training regimen so he’ll stand up better to the rigors of the long NHL season.
“Yeah, I’m actually going to be here all summer training here and hopefully have a good summer,” Husso said. “Next year play the same amount of games and when we make the playoffs, then play even more games. It’s going to be a good mental challenge but at the same time I need to be in better shape.”
Detroit is viewing Husso as the club’s No. 1 goalie going forward and are preferring to look at his overall body of work from 2022-23 rather than focusing on how the campaign would finish for him.
“Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for him,” Lalonde said. “Hopefully, there will be some growth in him. Maybe take him a little beyond his threshold. I think all goalies that take that step into being a starter go through. We just went through it with him towards the end of the year.
“He’s going to be a tough player to judge because he had four shutouts, there were times he was flirting with a .910. I want to be cautious in judging him on his play towards the end of the year because obviously it was not what it looked like at the beginning of the year.”