3 Ways to Fix the Red Wings’ Goaltending Situation

The Hockey Writers

There’s really no way around it: goaltending has been a big part of the Detroit Red Wings’ recent struggles. The team has allowed 55 goals in the month of December (13 games), and while the team’s overall defensive play has been frustratingly leaky, the men tasked with keeping the puck out of the net have generally failed to do so.

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With the Red Wings suddenly plummeting down the Eastern Conference standings, every game allowing three, four, five and even six goals only compounds the issue. Even when the team’s offense seems capable of keeping them in the game, they don’t receive the same clutch saves that other goalies provide for their teams across the NHL. If the the Red Wings are serious about making a playoff push this season, they need to do something to stabilize their situation in the crease.

Here are three ways they can go about doing that.

Let Husso, Reimer & Lyon Sort It Out

The Red Wings’ current trio of Ville Husso, James Reimer and Alex Lyon have yielded a wide array of results. Though all three have had their moments, the numbers paint a pretty clear picture:

Name Record Goals-Against Average Save-Percentage

Ville Husso 9-5-2 3.53 .893

James Reimer 3-6-2 3.41 .889

Alex Lyon 5-3-0 2.39 .925

With Lyon now at full health, the coaching staff shouldn’t be afraid to lean on him until he gives them a reason not to. From a statistical standpoint, doing anything else would be negligence. But, at least to this point in the season, head coach Derek Lalonde has committed to rotating his goaltenders – though Lyon didn’t see his first start until Nov. 17, a month into the season.

The Red Wings’ goaltenders have 665 games of NHL experience combined, with Reimer accounting for 488 of them. Not only is Reimer the most experienced option the Red Wings have, but he is also the only member of their goaltending trio that has history of being a capable 1A/1B goaltender in the NHL, going back to his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks. NHL decision-makers like to bet on experience, and Reimer is the clear favorite when it comes to that.

Related: Red Wings’ Struggles Continue in the Month of December

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In the case of Husso, the incumbent starter from last season has had a fall from grace this season after securing a starting role last season. The 28-year-old is the youngest of the Red Wings’ three goaltenders, and has battled inconsistency throughout his tenure in Detroit. With another year left on his deal at $4.75 million, the Red Wings’ front office would likely prefer to get him back on track as this team’s go-to guy for the next couple of years.

The Red Wings have been committed to carrying three goalies on their roster since the start of the season, and it doesn’t seem like that is going to change anytime soon. Lyon is the clear standout of the moment, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the team has to turn to Husso or Reimer somewhere down the road. Taking this route means the Red Wings want to make the most of their current situation, but they’ll have to be willing to rely on one guy at a time.

Could the Red Wings Trade for a Goalie?

If the Red Wings’ front office is of the mind that this situation needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, a trade is almost certainly the only viable route. The only drawback is that, like every trade, it takes two to tango, and most goalies that can be had at this point in the season are in the midst of struggles of their own.

There are a number of names floating around the rumor mill, and some will interest the Red Wings more than others. Jake Allen of the Montreal Canadiens is a 33-year-old veteran of over 400 games in the NHL, but he holds a SV% of .900 over the last four seasons. Karel Vejmelka has flown under the radar while playing with the Arizona Coyotes since the 2021-22 season, but the 27-year-old comes with a lot of question marks similar to the ones that came with Husso when he joined the Red Wings.

Karel Vejmelka Arizona Coyotes
Karel Vejmelka, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If the Red Wings want to acquire an established starter, they may have a few options available to them. In the offseason, rumors swirled that the Philadelphia Flyers could be willing to listen to offers for Carter Hart, a 25-year-old that has been the team’s starter since 2019. Another option is Juuse Saros, the Nashville Predators’ starter who was a Vezina Trophy finalist just two seasons ago. A move for either Hart or Saros would require a huge return to the Flyers or Predators, but the Red Wings have picks and prospects they can package together if it means acquiring a good, young goaltender they can rely on until the next wave of talent takes over.

Wait for Cossa & Augustine

This is perhaps the most agonizing of the three options the Red Wings have: waiting.

Since the end of their playoff streak in 2017, all anyone across “Hockeytown” has been able to do is wait – wait for luck in the draft lottery, wait for the prospects to develop, and wait for the team to return to the playoffs. Part of the reason fixing this situation feels so urgent is because people seem to be tired of waiting for this team to turn the corner.

But with two highly-drafted goaltenders (Sebastian Cossa and Trey Augustine) already in the pipeline, isn’t it fair to say that waiting for one of these guys to ascend the depth chart was always the plan?

It’s not the most exciting option, at least not in the short-term. Cossa is in his first season in the American Hockey League (AHL) and has experienced some growing pains, sporting a 3.09 GAA and a .897 SV%. Drafted 15th overall in 2021, he is the closest Red Wings goalie prospect to making the NHL, but that’s not necessarily saying much considering it seems like he’ll need at least another year in the AHL before pushing for the NHL – though he has been known to perform a lot better in the second half of a season than in the first.

Augustine, on the other hand, is in the midst of his Freshman season with Michigan State University. He currently sports a 11-3-2 record, a 2.97 GAA and a .917 SV%. Drafted 41st overall in the 2023 draft, his profile is rising leaguewide as one of the best goalie prospects.

Like Cossa, Augustine is still at least a year away from making a meaningful play for NHL playing time, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from being excited about him and his future. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the Red Wings’ goaltending woes this season, but it does offer up hope that, one way or another, help is on the way.

Red Wings’ Decision Could Define the Season

Whatever route the Red Wings take will play a large role in determining how the rest of this season plays out. Their preference might be to let their current group figure things out, but the season could quickly get away from them if the task proves to be too much for Husso, Lyon and Reimer to handle. Furthermore, if they opt to spend assets on a trade acquisition, it won’t look great if the new face can’t turn things around.

But if they make the right decision, whatever that may be, it could lead to success in the short and long term. For a team that is still building the foundation of their future, that should be the Red Wings’ primary objective when figuring out what to do about this situation.

How would you address the Red Wings’ goaltending struggles? Let us know in the comments section down below!

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