Red Wings need to capitalize on loaded goaltending free agent pool

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

It will be a shame if the Detroit Red Wings do not capitalize on the upcoming free-agent market to help with the current goaltending situation.

As the league shifts into the offseason in the coming weeks, the Detroit Red Wings will need to pick up another goaltender to join Jonathan Bernier as the primary netminders. A quick look at the upcoming free agent pool shows that there is plenty of options.

If the Red Wings want to address the goaltending woes, they can do so by signing a number of available goaltenders on the market. The Red Wings have Jimmy Howard coming off the books as an unrestricted free agent, and it has been known that his time here is over.

While Howard looks to get back on the ice, the Red Wings would be foolish for bringing him back; it is time to seek out other options. The prospects they have in the system are far from being ready to make the jump, so a bridge goaltender will be necessary.

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Looking back on this past season, Jonathan Bernier was essentially the Most Valuable Player, managing to keep the Red Wings in games somehow.

Maybe not always, but better than was expected with the defense and lack of offense around him.

Bernier returns for his final year of the three-year contract with a $3 million cap hit.

The organization’s backup is Calvin Pickard, who carries a $750,000 cap hit and was a part of the Grand Rapids Griffins goaltending tandem last year.

Given the state of the Detroit Red Wings goalies, signing one to make an improvement has to happen for a successful offseason.

Looking at the pool of players, the Red Wings could approach this in a few different ways. If they are going to be big spenders, there are a few options in the higher price range, but if they are signing the middle of the pack names, there are options there as well.

While General Manager (GM) Steve Yzerman has to decide which route is best for the team, here’s a quick snapshot of what kind of options he has. The offseason will be interesting, and the Red Wings cap situation benefits them more than other teams.

If Yzerman wants to pull out the checkbook for a big name player, he could go after the likes of Braden Holtby, Robin Lehner, or Jacob Markstrom. Each of them likely to pull in an Average Annual Value (AAV) north of $5 million come free agency.

In the middle of the pack range, there are names like Thomas Greiss, Mike Smith, or even Cam Talbot. These players carry lower cap hits and are likely to have a lower impact on the cap if Yzerman is looking to keep cap space maximized.

These are three who would not likely be standout netminders, but provide more help to the 2020-21 goaltending tandem that Howard did this past season, leaving Jonathan Bernier to become the starter.

On the cheap side of things, almost avoiding filling the need, Yzerman could go out and add names like Laurent Brossoit or Louis Domingue, who are nothing more than a backup netminder.

This would require Bernier to play as well as he did in the 2019-20 season, which may be asking a lot for someone who was supposed to be a backup goalie to Howard. However, it is a cheap option to get by for a year or two.

On top of this, the Red Wings could skip the free-agent market and try to trade for a goaltender. Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins will likely be in the hot seat and looking to make a move if they need to given their goaltending situation.

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For now, it is a waiting game with the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaching, Yzerman’s sights are likely on that, but free agency will become a focal point soon after.