Setting expectations for Detroit Red Wings netminder Ville Husso isn’t a particularly easy task. Sure, hockey analytics have come a long way over the past 12 or 13 years, and our ability to gain a deeper understanding of the game of hockey is only limited by our willingness to absorb new kinds of information. Still, there are plenty of holes in what both data and the eye test can tell us. That’s never as evident as it is when trying to predict what a goaltender will do in any given season.
Especially when that goalie is someone like Husso, who has all of 109 career starts to his name—56 of those starts coming last season alone. The Detroit Red Wings clearly believe that the 28-year-old is capable of being a No. 1 in this league. They wasted little time jettisoning Alex Nedeljkovic when it became clear he wouldn’t be The Guy as Detroit moved into the next phase of its rebuild. If general manager Steve Yzerman didn’t think Husso could hack it, quite frankly, he’d be employed elsewhere entering 2023-24.
Yet he enters the campaign the undisputed top netminder in Hockeytown, backed up by James Reimer. With all that in mind, we decided to undertake a bit of a thought exercise as the dog days of summer slowly melt away. Here, the goal is to set three bars that Husso could conceivably clear this season.
The “low bar” will be the baseline expectation. The Detroit Red Wings won’t be overly pleased or despondent if these things happen.
The former 94th-overall pick will have done exactly what was expected of him and nothing more. The “medium bar” represents a realistic but meaningful step forward for Husso’s game. If these things happen, the Red Wings might flirt with a playoff position, with goaltending being a big reason why. And the “high bar” will be pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are things that Yzerman and Co. (and the fans) would love to see but might not be all that likely. Keep in mind that all of these scenarios assume health. Let’s get into the weeds.