The Hockey News’s Matt Larkin examined the goaltending situations of each and every one of the NHL’s 16 Eastern Conference teams yesterday afternoon, and Larkin suggested that the Red Wings must make an upgrade at the position to be a more competitive team:
DETROIT RED WINGS: More tanking, or a push for a real No. 1 goalie?
A tandem of veterans Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier has, ahem, been just right for what the Wings have wanted to do. Per naturalstattrick.com, this past season, among 54 goalies who played at least 1,000 minutes at 5-on-5, Bernier ranked 27th in goals saved above average per 60, while Howard graded out dead last. Howard departs as a UFA and could probably use a fresh start after being shelled on the worst NHL team of the past two decades, so GM Steve Yzerman needs to bring in a partner for Bernier, especially since the Wings have no top-tier netminding prospect who is knocking on the door of NHL duty. Filip Larsson spent most of this past season in the ECHL, while Keith Petruzzelli hasn’t turned pro yet.
Would the Wings take a run at a higher-end UFA like Braden Holtby? I strongly doubt it. This team is still in scorched-earth rebuild mode and is better off adding a wily vet who can split time with Bernier on a short-term pact. That could mean signing a stopgap like Cam Talbot. It could also mean acquiring a starter on an expiring deal – such as Frederik Andersen, who could be a flippable piece at next season’s trade deadline should he have a rebound season.
Larkin continues; the Wings’ goaltending situation frustrates me, because the team has half-a-dozen goaltending prospects who have long-term NHL potential, but absolutely none of them are ready to compete for an NHL job
I don’t see the Wings overpaying for a Fredrik Andersen via trade when the free agent marketplace has a glut of goaltenders, but it will be interesting to see which goalie the Wings’ braintrust feels will best complement Jonathan Bernier for the next season or two.