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Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings’ Goaltending Ranks Fifth in the Atlantic Division

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Ville Husso, Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman didn’t let Ville Husso’s struggles in the final month of the 2022-23 season have undue influence on the final assessment of his season.

Husso lost seven of his last eight decisions. His save percentage was .829 in that stretch. It would have been easy to forget how impressive Husso was earlier in the season.

“I think Ville had a very good season,” Yzerman said. “It’s the most games he’s played in the NHL. Personally his numbers at the end of the season aren’t good, you can go back and look at them, he’s been dealing with an injury and not so much the injury but kind of our plan … at one point we weren’t sure if he was going to play again and then the plan became, let’s get out there and see how you do for the rest of the season. Physically, I think he did fine. But he wasn’t necessarily mentally ready to play these last couple of weeks because he’s planning a completely different plan and things change.”

Husso spent the summer working hard in an effort to be stronger at the end of next season. But the real question: Where does Husso rank among Atlantic Division goalies?

Here is our ranking

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Andre Vasilevskiy’s goals-against average was up and his save percentage was down slightly. But Vasilevskiy remains one of the top goalies in the game today. Since he became a regular in 2016-17, he has never had a season save percentage below .915.

This Yzerman draft pick is a primary reason why the Lightning are still a contender, even though their depth has been eroded by salary cap issues.

Tampa Bay has upgraded Vasilevskiy’s backup, signing Jonas Johansson who played last season with Colorado.

2. Boston Bruins

Linus Ullmark and young Jeremy Swayman are the division’s best tandem. The Bruins need another season of excellence from this dynamic duo because Patrice Bergeron retired and David Krejci is expected to retire. Salary cap woes forced them to trade Taylor Hall. They couldn’t re-sign Tyler Bertuzzi or Dmitry Orlov.

Ullmark was last season’s Vezina Trophy winner and Swayman has shown a high level of consistency. Ullmark and Swayman will have to be at their best to keep the Bruins in contention.

3. Florida Panthers

Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight could be as effective as Ullmark and Swayman. But it’s difficult to know where Knight’s game is at because he missed most of last season because he was in the NHL/NHLPA Player’s Assistance Program.

Bobrovsky, 34, is coming off a strong playoff run. If Knight plays well, the Panthers’ goaltending has the potential to be as effective as the Boston and Tampa Bay goaltending.

The only issue for Florida is that Bobrovsky has a $10 million salary cap hit and Knight is earning $4.5 million. The Panthers are paying their quality goaltending.

4.Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Samsonov, 26, quietly put up strong numbers last season. He had a .919 save percentage in 42 games. He will likely play 54-plus games in the upcoming season.

The Maple Leafs have considerable confidence in Samsonov. They believe their goaltending stacks up well in the Atlantic Division.

Joseph Woll will be the backup goalie this season. Matt Murray won’t be around this season. The Maple Leafs say he will go on long-term injured reserve with an unspecified injury. That’s interesting since he said during last season’s playoffs that he was ready to play.

5. Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings believe Husso’s second half dip reflects the high number of injuries the team was experiencing. The Red Wings were simply giving up too many high danger scoring chances.

On the season, Husso had 24 games in which he gave up two or fewer goals. He posted four shutouts

“Overall, I’m encouraged,” Yzerman said. “I expect him to be better next year for the experience that he’s had.”

Detroit’s backup goaltending should be improved. The Red Wings signed veterans James Reimer and Alex Lyon. Reimer is supposed to be No. 2 and Lyon is expected to begin the season in Grand Rapids. But it’s not unthinkable that Lyon could end up as the backup. Don’t forget that Lyon was Florida’s goalie early in last season’s playoffs.

6. Ottawa Senators

Feel free to be less excited about Joonas Korpisalo as Ottawa’s No. 1 goalies than the Senators are.  Certainly he did play well for the Los Angeles Kings last season after the trade with the Blue Jackets. But his playoff  save percentage was .892. And his career goals-against average is 3.01.

The argument is that he’s never had the opportunity to play with a quality team, but the Senators are still a rebuilding team. They need Korpisalo to be their solution.

7. Buffalo Sabres

Everyone loves Devon Levi’s potential. He could be an NHL star. But he’s 21 and has played seven games. The Sabres should have acquired a veteran goalie and started Levi in the American Hockey League.

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It seems too early for a tandem Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

The Sabres have a talent-laden lineup and they would be better off with more experienced goaltending. The Sabres had the third-highest scoring team last season and didn’t make the playoffs. They don’t want to see a repeat of that.

8. Montreal Canadiens

You don’t want to dismiss how sharp Sam Montembeault was in helping Canada win the World Championships.  Jake Allen and Montembeault are legitimate NHL goalies. But we don’t see this duo helping Montreal perform above expectations.