It’s no secret; the Detroit Red Wings desperately need to address their goaltending issues. Jimmy Howard produced a regular-season record of 2-23-2 with an atrocious 4.20 goals-against average, and 0.882 save percentage.
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Jonathan Bernier had been the Red Wings most valuable player in 2020 playing behind an abysmal roster and still producing a 15-22-3 record for the league’s worst team. He’s also provided an impressive 0.907 save percentage for this terrible team and a 2.95 goals-against average—a much better performance than Howard.
With Howard not expected to be retained, and Bernier heading into the final year of his current deal and no one in the Red Wings system close to making the leap to the NHL level, Detroit needs a goaltender to share the cage with Bernier.
Detroit will likely consider signing former Stanley Cup winner Braden Holtby with Washington enjoying a young emerging star in goal this season. Ilya Samsonov is a 23-year old netminder that’s backboned the Capitals to a 16-6-2 regular-season record while enjoying a 2.55 goals-against average along with a 0.913 save percentage. Holtby is 25-14-6, but his 0.897 save percentage, and 3.11 goals-against average suggest he’s starting to decline, or at least becoming over-priced.
Holtby is just 30-years old, young enough for Yzerman to consider. The two do have a history together with Hockey Canada.
If not Holtby, I’d expect Robin Lehner to be the target. A couple of summer’s ago, I preferred Lehner, who Ken Holland met with, over Bernier who Detroit eventually signed. Lehner is enjoying a good stretch of hockey and is still just 28-years old.
Last season with the New York Islanders, Lehner produced a stellar 0.930 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average to go with his 25-13-5 regular-season record in 46 starts. He split time with Thomas Greiss, who also enjoyed an outstanding year with defensive genius Barry Trotz behind the bench.
Lehner’s stellar play has continued this season with both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vegas Golden Knights, where he was traded at the NHL trade deadline. He’s 19-10-5 on the year between the two, with a 0.920 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average.
Lehner has openly talked about his past, which has included substance abuse and mental health issues. Since he’s gotten everything under control, his play has thrived. He’d be a perfect addition to the Detroit Red Wings to split time with Bernier.
After signing back to back one-year contracts, Lehner will surely be looking to sign a multi-year deal to provide himself some stability, and he’s earned it.