The Detroit Red Wings are expected to begin the year with 3 goaltenders

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It’s not typical for an NHL team to carry three goaltenders on their active roster, but it’s something familiar to the Detroit Red Wings. Last season, at times, Detroit carried three goaltenders, with Magnus Hellberg and Alex Nedeljkovic as backups to starter Ville Husso.

Last season is one to forget when it comes to Detroit’s backup goaltending play. The Red Wings carried both struggling backups, hoping someone could turn in a solid effort to spell a fatigued Husso. Aside from a couple of dependable outings, a reliable backup goaltender was nowhere to be found last season.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman made a conscious effort to address the need this past summer by adding two veteran NHL-caliber backups to play behind Husso. James Reimer and Alex Lyon were expected to compete for the primary backup job through training camp and the preseason. It seemed Reimer would end up with the nod, leaving Lyon to begin the year in Grand Rapids, mentioning Detroit’s top goaltending prospect, Sebastian Cossa.

Recently, the Detroit Red Wings signed veteran Michael Hutchinson to a personal try-out (PTO), which begs the question: is Cossa ready to be a regular in Grand Rapids? Cossa has struggled this summer, allowing 13 goals in three games. This may leave the organization wondering if he’s ready to play a significant amount with the Griffins or better suited beginning the year in Toledo.

The Detroit Red Wings are prepared to carry the three netminders on their opening night roster.

Veteran netminder Michael Hutchinson gets an opportunity to land in Grand Rapids. Hutchinson, 33, is the definition of a journeyman goaltender, having spent time in seven organizations over the past five seasons. Most of Hutchinson’s NHL work came early in his career with the Winnipeg Jets. The Boston Bruins selected him in the third round of the 2008 NHL entry-level draft, but he never got the opportunity to wear their jersey. Hutchinson spent five years with the Jets, four years in the Maple Leafs organization, and also spent time with Florida, Colorado, Columbus, and Vegas.

Hutchinson described what it was like getting the call from Detroit.

“We got the call on Monday, and I had to fly out on Tuesday,” Hutchinson said. “It was a little bit of a scramble. We had some plans we had to cancel, my wife and I. It was a scramble, but I thought it would be a fun opportunity.

“At the end of the day, it’s better to be skating than being at home and sitting on your butt. I’m just going to enjoy each moment.”

As the Red Wings noticed last season, goaltending depth is vital. With the Tampa Bay Lightning losing star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for the first couple of months of the season, Detroit likely assumes Alex Lyon will not clear waivers if they try to send him to Grand Rapids. That makes the addition of Hutchinson at this juncture of the preseason make sense. Detroit will need someone to stabilize the position in Grand Rapids, and having a veteran there for Cossa to lean on will be very beneficial.

“We had a vision of improving our goaltending depth and our guys in that two, three, four hole, if you will, have played very well,” Lalonde said. “You want to be careful how you judge them. We’ve had three home games. Teams that travel usually do not send very deep teams as far as as NHL roster. So they’ve played well, but they’ve all been put in pretty good situations so far.”

“It’s just the reality of depth, how competitive every point is,” Lalonde said. “You have to give yourself a chance every night, especially in net. We had to learn the hard way last year, with our depth. We’re not backed up against the cap, and we’ve put ourselves in a good situation for the small term and the big term, also.”

In other news, the Detroit Red Wings released veteran center Artem Anisimov from his PTO. Anisimov, 35, seemed to have an outside chance of sticking with the Red Wings organization. Earlier this summer, Shawn Horcoff, assistant general manager of the Red Wings and general manager of the Griffins, mentioned that he’d like to add some veteran players to a young core in Grand Rapids ahead of the 2023-24 season.

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Anisimov fits the bill. He’s totaled 180 goals and 196 assists over 771 NHL games over 13 seasons. He spent last season in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Flyers.

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