One of the areas that needed to be addressed by the Detroit Red Wings this off-season was finding a solid backup goaltender. Ville Husso’s first season with the Wings was a good one overall, but when Husso needed a night off, the game usually didn’t end well.
Husso also played a lot of games last season and needs a solid backup to reduce the workload he has to carry. To fill this gap, the Detroit Wings signed free agent goaltender Alex Lyon from the Florida Panthers to a two-year contract on the first day of free agency.
In another one of his exciting moves, Red Wings General Manager (GM) Steve Yzerman signed another free agent goaltender James Reimer from the San Jose Sharks to a one-year contract. With the signing of two solid goaltenders to backup Husso, the competition is now on to see who will get the spot this season.
Lyon and Reimer both have solid career stats, but Lyon might take the cake on the backup spot in 2023-24. Let’s dive into the two netminders a bit more.
Detroit Red Wings signee Alex Lyon may win the backup role.
Reimer is 35 years old and has a solid NHL career with 476 games played, 204 wins, a .911 save percentage, and a 2.87 goals-against average (GAA). He’s fresh off his season with San Jose, playing in 43 games with a .890 save percentage and 3.48 GAA.
Lyon is 30 years old and has a solid NHL career, although with a lot less experience than Reimer. Lyon has 39 games played, 16 wins, a .903 save percentage, and a 3.05 GAA. Not a ton of NHL experience, but he started to get some chances in Florida last season.
Although the career stats of these guys aren’t going to set the world on fire, they are better than what the Red Wings’ backup goalies were able to do last season. Both Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg had a tough time last season, even though they had some good nights from time to time.
While both Lyon and Reimer have the potential to be better backup goalies to Husso this season, there will need to be a choice made for the spot. Coming from a winning team will make the difference, giving Lyon the edge.
Both of these goaltenders bring something to the table for the Red Wings. The overall career stats for both of them are good, so I consider that aspect a tie. Reimer definitely has more NHL experience than Lyon does. However, Lyon has the advantage of youth being five years younger. The fact that Lyon is coming in from a winning team with a better culture will help him come into Detroit and have an edge over Reimer.
Last year was tough for the San Jose Sharks, and Reimer’s numbers were not good. His save percentage was the lowest of his career, and his goals-against average was his highest. All of the blame for those poor numbers cannot be placed on Reimer alone; nevertheless, he is still responsible for his numbers, and they need improvement. Playing on a losing team can considerably bring a player down and affect their confidence, as Red Wings fans have seen firsthand in past seasons.
Lyon really stepped up, putting in some great performances for the Panthers at the end of the season, and was a big part of their push to secure the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. He then showed some solid play against difficult opponents in his playoff appearances.
Being part of a winning team can push a player to a new level, which definitely happened to Lyon. He will take that momentum and build on it this offseason to make a strong push into the backup goaltender spot behind Husso this upcoming season.
The best part of this competition is that the Detroit Red Wings are on track to have a better backup goalie in their tandem this season than they did last season. Goaltending was an area that needed improvement from last year to this year, and Yzerman and his staff have addressed this.
Even if there is an injury to Husso, these guys should provide better goaltending and keep the Detroit Red Wings in the playoff hunt this season.