As the Detroit Red Wings’ rebuilding process continues, the objective is clear: There has been improvement, but the team needs to get better.
That includes goaltending.
General manager Steve Yzerman said he was pleased with Ville Husso’s play this season. However, there are too many numbers telling Yzerman that his goaltending needs upgrading.
“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.
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.”
So, as Yzerman surveys the current NHL market for free agent goalies, this is how it shapes up:
Here are the sports cars in the lineup: Flashy, but not likely to wind up in the Wings’ garage:
Joonas Korpisalo: 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.
Tristan Jarry: His status with the Penguins is up in the air with the upheaval at the top of the market, but even if he does test the market, Jarry likely won’t want to come to Detroit to share time on a team that has missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.
Too Rich For Our Blood
These guys are under contract, but the cost is likely steep:
Carter Hart: The Flyers say they’ll listen to offers, but it’s not likely that the Wings can/will give up the number and/or quality of prospects the Flyers would ask for.
Connor Hellebuyck: The Wings wouldn’t turn down the chance to acquire the Commerce Township native, but the Jets are expected to command a hefty price in a seller’s market. It seems like the Toronto Maple Leafs will end up with one of the premium goalies, maybe this one.
John Gibson: The Anaheim Ducks are rebuilding, too, and they could likely get more for him elsewhere. Could he end up in Pittsburgh?
Semyon Varlamov: He’s 35 and word is he’s interested in staying with the Islanders. If not, he is a proven goalie, and he would be intriguing if he was willing to sign a one-year deal.
Antti Raanta: Would be a good option. But it seems likely the Hurricanes will re-sign him over Frederik Andersen.
Cam Talbot: He has a career .914 save percentage and had a winning record last season in Ottawa. He is 35. On a one-year deal, he is a possibility.
Jonas Johansson: He’s back in the picture after his plans to move back to Sweden fell through. He could re-sign with Colorado, but this is where having strong connections with Swedish hockey could pay off for Detroit.
David Rittich: The Jets backup is more interesting than you think he is. He is 79-51-21 in his career. He had a winning record for an inconsistent Winnipeg team.
Laurent Brossoit: The 30-year-old Brossoit has winning record as a career backup. Played well for a quality Vegas team this season.