This past season proved to be challenging at times for starting goaltender Ville Husso. Part of the reason for Husso’s inconsistencies down the stretch was due to the overall workload that comes with being a primary goaltender at the NHL level.
Husso, 27, made 56 starts for the Detroit Red Wings in 2022-23, by far the most of his career. And let’s not overlook the fact that those starts came on a bottom-third team; it makes a difference. Last season, Husso started 38 games for the St. Louis Blues, teamed with Jordan Binnington. Last year in St. Louis, Husso actually had better numbers than the 2018-19 Stanley Cup starter posting a stout 2.56 goals against average to go with a stellar save percentage of 0.919%. Binnington had a 3.13 goals against average and a 0.901 save percentage in 37 starts.
We all know the history between Blues general manager (GM) Doug Armstrong and Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. Yzerman pounced on an opportunity to trade for the pending restricted free-agent goaltender last summer, knowing the Blues owe Binnington $6 million per season through the 2026-27 season. Yzerman landed Husso, a starting-caliber goaltender, for a third-round pick and immediately signed him to a three-year deal that averages $4.75 million per season. It was a similar trade as the year prior when Yzerman dealt a third-round pick to Carolina for pending restricted free agent Alex Nedeljkovic.
Detroit Red Wings starting goaltender Ville Husso says he will be better mentally prepared next season.
Detroit’s primary option in goal went 26-22-7 this past season for the Red Wings, posting a mediocre 3.11 goals against average to pair with a 0.896 save percentage in his first season with the organization.
Husso recently mentioned that he needs to be better prepared for the heavy workload next season.
"“I think I just needed to be better at the end of the day,” Husso said. “I’m not happy at all how it ended.“Next year play the same amount of games, and when we make the playoffs, then play even more games. It’s going to be a good mental challenge, but at the same time I need to be in better shape.”"
Yzerman also mentioned that he felt Husso was fine physically, but his struggles down the stretch seemed to be due to mental fatigue.
"“Physically, I think he did fine,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “But he wasn’t necessarily mentally ready to play these last couple of weeks because he’s planning a completely different plan (shut down for the season) and things change.“He did a really good job for two-thirds, three-quarters of the season. He won a lot of games for us, and I think he’ll be better for it. His challenge is going to be, ‘I know what it is, how do I do this night in and night out?’ For the most part, I’m very pleased with his play. In the last 20 games, we weren’t as strong a lineup, and that forced him to make more saves. At times it was tough for him. But dealing with an injury and figuring out what we were going to do, I don’t think that made it any easier on him. Overall, I’m encouraged.”"
Husso is one of many Detroit Red Wings that have elected not to play in the World Championship tournament, understanding that he needs a break physically and mentally as the team aims to take a step forward next season.
Another problem in Detroit this past season had been the ineffective play of the Red Wings’ backup goaltenders forcing a heavy workload for Husso, especially a couple of weeks ahead of the trade deadline when the playoffs remained in Detroit’s grasp. Nedeljkovic, albeit much better at the end of the regular season after being recalled from Grand Rapids, went 5-7-2 overall with a 0.895 save percentage and a 3.53 goals-against average. Magnus Hellberg didn’t fair any better, going 5-8-1 with an 0.888 save percentage and a 3.20 goals-against average.
Want your voice heard? Join the Octopus Thrower team!
Husso finished the year on a 3-9-2 downward spiral with a 3.93 goals-against average and 0.857 save percentage. Finding a reliable backup goaltender this summer to take some pressure off Husso will be vital for the Detroit Red Wings.