Did the Detroit Red Wings improve their goaltending situation?

(Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images) /

The backup goalie position has become vital to an NHL team’s success. The Stanley Cup champion Las Vegas Golden Knights proved to be a prime example of this during the postseason. The Knights relied on regular season backup goalie Adin Hill to help carry them to Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Detroit Red Wings have been searching for that reliable and dependable number two netminder for the past couple of years. When Steve Yzerman traded for Ville Husso from St. Louis this last offseason, the hope was that Husso and returning Alex Nedeljkovic could create that solid one-two punch teams look for.

Those hopes faded fairly quickly once Nedeljkovic struggled out of the gates, putting up a 1-2-1 record with a 4.96 GAA and .871 save percentage in the month of November. This led to Nedeljkovic being eventually sent down to Grand Rapids and replaced by Magnus Hellberg, who put up a 4-8-1 record with a 3.29 GAA and .885 save percentage in 17 games played for the Detroit Red Wings.

Hellberg and Nedeljkovic departed Detroit for Pittsburgh this offseason via free agency and were replaced by James Reimer and Alex Lyon.

Have the Detroit Red Wings improved their backup situation this offseason?

When acquired in 2021, Alex Nedeljkovic was coming off of a season where he found himself being a Calder Trophy finalist and looked as advertised in the 2021/2022 season for the Wings, going 20-24-9, with a 3.31 GAA and .901 save percentage for a Red Wings team that won only 32 games. 2022/2023 was a major setback for Nedeljkovic, ending up with him finishing in Grand Rapids, where he played much better.

On the flip side, James Reimer, who was signed to the same free agency deal as Nedeljkovic (1 year, $1.5 million), and is 35 years old (compared to Nedeljkovic, who is 27 years old), also had a down year that was very comparable to Nedeljkovic’s. Reimer finished the 2022/2023 season with a 12-21-8 record, a 3.48 GAA, and a .890 save percentage.

In Alex Lyon, the Detroit Red Wings are getting a goalie who is 30 years old and has playoff experience under his belt after playing with the Panthers this past season while also putting up a respectable 9-4-2 record with a 2.89 GAA and .914 save percentage.

Adding a goaltender who is most likely on the back nine of his career and signing him to a contract that is almost identical to that of a 27-year-old who is three seasons removed from being in the hunt for the Calder Trophy seems to be a head-scratcher for many people.

Predicting the full Detroit Red Wings roster for opening night. light. Trending

Many people think that giving Nedeljkovic another shot to get back to his early career self would have been more beneficial and made more sense than signing the long-time veteran Reimer. However, only time will tell if the Wings have improved at their backup goalie spot.