Thomas Greiss’ surge could help the Detroit Red Wings at trade deadline. Here’s how

Detroit Free Press

Thomas Greiss is playing his best hockey of the season, just in time for the Detroit Red Wings.

The trade deadline is Monday, and the Wings have multiple players, including goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who should draw interest. Bernier has been the team’s MVP, while Greiss struggled through February and March, especially.

But Greiss has strung together his best stretch, posting a .940 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average his last five games.

“He’s been calm, kept everything right in front of him, and swallowed up a lot,” Dylan Larkin said. “When he’s out there he has a calming effect, just like Jonathan Bernier does. He makes key saves. He keeps us in the game. He’s done a great job.”

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Greiss made 29 saves in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators. He made 27 stops on Sunday, including a game-changing stop on Steven Stamkos in a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Over this stretch, he’s been solid and we’ve been solid defensively in front of him,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Those two things usually go hand-in-hand. When you play good defense you give your goalie a chance to make saves and then he makes the one he’s supposed to and makes a big save at a big moment. That’s what he’s done.”

General manager Steve Yzerman signed Greiss to two years, $7.2 million in the offseason, seeing the 35-year-old veteran as someone who could share the net with Bernier. But Greiss struggled — on March 29, he had a 3.51 GAA and .885 save percentage in 21 games.

Greiss seems to have worked his way out of it.

“He’s been through lots in his pro career,” Blashill said. “He knows how to handle it. Everyone’s confidence can get shaken at times but he’s able to stay with it and just work and he’s done that. He’s put himself in a better spot in terms of where his goaltending is at.”

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Bernier has been nursing a lower-body injury, but is close to returning. He has a .918 save percentage and 2.78 GAA in 17 games. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent with a reasonable $3 million salary cap hit.

When Greiss was struggling so much, it looked like any possible deal involving Bernier being flipped for draft picks would also necessitate acquiring an NHL-experienced goaltending. Greiss’ surge indicates he can handle the workload down the stretch, which is only 15 games.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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