Red Wings’ Goaltending Trade Targets for 2024 Offseason

The Hockey Writers

Goaltending is a fickle beast. It has always been considered one of the hardest positions in sports to evaluate because it’s a mental game that no one can quite fully comprehend. What goes on between the ears of an NHL goaltender will always be a mystery to those who follow the game. Teams can live and die by the player who guards the blue paint as the Detroit Red Wings found out during the 2023-24 season. Ville Husso, James Reimer and Alex Lyon were all part of the active roster during this past season, but it’s safe to say the story didn’t play out the way Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman had planned. An upgrade is most definitely needed in Motown. But at what cost?

Ville Husso Detroit Red Wings
Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Husso was brought in before the 2022-23 campaign to solidify the goaltending spot for the Red Wings, but it’s safe to say that didn’t quite work out. Yzerman signed him to a three-year $14.25 million deal after he briefly shined for the St. Louis Blues during the 2021-22 season. He started 56 games for Detroit going 26-22-7 with a 3.11 goals-against average (GAA) and a .896 save percentage (SV%), but after a promising start, he seemed to wear down as the season progressed. The 6-foot-3 Finnish netminder had never taken on a number one role and it clearly showed during some pretty rough stretches as the season winded down. Detroit was hoping for some kind of improvement during his sophomore season, but that also did not come to fruition.

Related: Detroit Red Wings‘ 2023-24 Final GradesGoalies

Husso struggled out of the gate before succumbing to injuries that led to only 19 appearances. Reimer didn’t fare much better while Lyon was forced to start 43 games – which was not ideal for someone who entered the season with a career total of just 31 starts. Lyon performed admirably for Detroit but faltered down the stretch losing 12 of 15 games as the team just barely missed the postseason. While he can be a serviceable backup, Lyon is not someone the Red Wings can rely on for a full workload. Yzerman has his work cut out for him this summer. Changes need to be made in the crease. Reimer was only signed to a one-year deal and it’s almost certain that he has played his last game in the Motor City, leaving Husso and Lyon as the only active goalies on the roster heading into next season. Both have one year left on their contracts, but it’s hard to imagine Detroit rolling the dice with these two again.

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The Red Wings had many flaws this past season, most notably from their defensemen, but with an adequate goaltender, it’s hard not to speculate that Detroit could have ended their eight-year playoff drought. Don’t think for a second that Yzerman doesn’t realize that. The question now becomes, what will he do about it? Does he give Husso another chance at the starter’s role? I believe that’s a risk he’s not willing to take. Highly touted prospects Sebastian Cossa and Trey Augustine are – no pun intended – waiting in the wings, but both are still at least a year or two away from being valuable contributors. The time is now to find a goaltender to bridge that gap. Here are three options that could help upgrade the position heading into the 2024-25 season.

1. Jacob Markstrom – Calgary Flames

This is the big fish and would have to come via trade as Jacob Markstrom is signed through the 2025-26 season at $6 million average annual value (AAV). But the timing seems almost too perfect. Two years from now, hopefully, Cossa and/or Augustine could be ready to see significant action in Detroit with Markstrom possibly mentoring one or both. The Calgary Flames are a team facing a tough rebuild and with prized prospect Dustin Wolf looking NHL-ready, they may be willing to move on from the 6-foot-6 Swedish netminder. Markstrom could be an ideal fit. He was solid this season on an underwhelming Flames team posting a 2.78 GAA, with a .905 SV% in 48 starts. This is a guy who could be a real difference-maker for Detroit. At 34, he still has elite skills and is considered one of the top-tier goalies in all of hockey. But what about the cost?

The Flames will be looking for prospects as they continue to retool and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them ask for someone like Marco Kasper, Carter Mazur, or Jonatan Berggren. But I think a combination of Husso, Berggren, and a third-round pick could get this deal done. This would significantly upgrade the position for Detroit and would be the perfect bridge for Cossa and Augustine. It remains to be seen if the Flames would bite, but this is definitely something to explore. Markstrom would instantly become the best goalie Detroit has had in the last 20 years and would be fascinating to watch wearing the Winged Wheel. Is it a pipe dream? Possibly. But don’t tell me it’s not enticing.

Juuse Saros – Nashville Predators

Juuse Saros is another marquee goalie that Yzerman should look into. The 5-foot-11 Finnish netminder has one year left on his contract at $5 million and would pay immediate dividends for Detroit. He was outstanding this past season, helping lead the Predators to the playoffs with a 35-24-5 record while posting a 2.86 GAA and a .906 SV%. At 29 years old he showed that he is a workhorse starting 64 games, making key saves down the stretch as the club made their postseason run. He would be an ideal fit for a Red Wings team that needed that kind of goaltender who could steal games from time to time. Saros is a fan favorite in Nashville, but the organization has a young, rising star in 2020 first-round pick, Yaroslav Askarov who also appears to be NHL-ready.

Juuse Saros Nashville Predators
Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In my mind, the Red Wings would possibly have to give up a little bit more to acquire Saros’ services. I would assume Nashville would want a king’s ransom for one of the game’s top goaltenders. This is where Yzerman could be playing with fire as the Predators could ask for a future first-round pick as well as a high-level prospect (Berggren, Mazur and Kasper) in return. For a team in Detroit’s position, I’m not sure that’s ideal just yet. This team isn’t close to contending, so that may be too much for Yzerman’s liking. A lot of things have to go right for the Red Wings next season, and I can see a scenario where their 2025 first-round pick could be a high one. Is that worth it for a goaltender in the final year of his deal? I’m not so sure. But I think the team should at least “kick the tires” on this possibility.

Linus Ullmark – Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins are in an interesting position having two high-end goalies on their roster in Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. Swayman is 25 years old and will be a restricted free agent this offseason. The Alaska native should see a significant raise – from the $3.475 million he made this season – after going 25-10-8 with a 2.53 GAA and .917 SV% in 43 starts. Ullmark – at 30 years old – carries a cap hit of $5 million for the 2024-25 season but also has a 16-team no-trade clause. He will be an unrestricted free agent after next season, but remember this – he is also only two years removed from winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. The 6-foot-4 Swede was excellent this season, with a pretty even timeshare between the two, posting similar numbers of 22-10-7 with a 2.57 GAA and .917 SV%. He too could be an interesting bridge option for Detroit and may not cost as much in return as Markstrom and Saros.

RELATED: Red Wings: 3 Ideal Trade Partners for 2024 Offseason

Teams not named the Florida Panthers don’t generally like to tie up that much money in two goaltenders, so the Bruins may be forced to move on from Ullmark. Things could get really interesting if they fail to advance past the first round for the second year in a row. Ullmark to me is an intriguing option if he can be had at a reasonable price. Yzerman may not have to give up key assets as Boston probably doesn’t want their goaltending tandem taking up $10 million-plus of the team’s cap space next season. I’m thinking a B-level prospect and a third-round pick may be able to get it done.

The Hardest (Sports) Job in the Motor City

It’s well known in and around Michigan circles that the two most highly scrutinized positions in all of Detroit sports are the Lions’ quarterback and the Red Wings’ goaltender. The two always seem to take the most heat on the local sports radio circuit. The Red Wings have not had elite goaltending in a long time, and even then I’m not sure you can call Chris Osgood, or a much older Dominik Hasek, elite. Mike Vernon maybe? But the great Red Wings teams we remember were never about “elite” goaltending. This team needs to go back to that formula for these next two years and find someone high-end who can steal games here and there until Cossa and Augustine arrive.

I’m not saying any of these options have a high probability of occurring – in fact, it may be low – but Yzerman could have some interesting opportunities this summer if he chooses to go in that direction. If I had to guess, I would say a move is coming. I just can’t envision another season of subpar goaltending being acceptable at this point in the rebuild. There appears to be a youth infusion coming, and there is always the possibility of a setback for the 2024-25 season, so that may play in the back of the Detroit icon’s head. He’s not one to tip his hand, and I don’t expect him to now, but I’m betting that the Red Wings getting that close to ending their playoff drought lit a fire in Yzerman. We’ll find out soon enough.

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