John Gibson should be atop the Detroit Red Wings wishlist

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Since Dylan Larkin’s injury, the Detroit Red Wings have looked like a completely different team. In fairness, Detroit had already been without their No. 2 center, J.T. Compher, but losing Larkin and forcing head coach Derek Lalonde to fill out his lineup card without his top two centermen just isn’t fair. With those two pieces absent down the middle, it’s really causing a ripple effect throughout the entire lineup. Over the past few games, Detroit’s blemishes have come to fruition.

Detroit has been forced to slot Andrew Copp, who is typically the third-line center, in on the top line and also move Joe Veleno up to the second group, where he’s in a bit over his head. Veleno is a fine player who hasn’t reached his full potential yet, but having him play against other teams’ first and second-line players is unfair, and the same goes for Copp. We are quickly discovering how important Larkin, in particular, is to the Detroit Red Wings. Without his stellar 200-foot play in the lineup, the rest of the Red Wings continue to struggle at each level. The backend is getting exploited more than ever, and suddenly, Detroit’s goaltending carousel has become just that: a circus ride.

To begin the year, the Detroit Red Wings were getting above-average play from James Reimer, who was slotted in as the primary backup to Ville Husso. As Reimer’s play began to take on water, Detroit turned to Alex Lyon. Lyon, to date, has been the more steady option, but he was pulled on Saturday night at home against Ottawa. In that game, we did see a human element, which we hadn’t seen from Lyon before; for the first time this year, he allowed a really soft goal. You can expect that from Reimer and Husso (of late), but we haven’t seen that from Lyon. It’s one game; there is no need to panic, but if he continues that trend as it has for his teammates, Detroit will find itself in a very peculiar position. Also, I may add that I have no explanation for why Lalonde continues to roll Husso out as his starter other than the fact that he’s being paid significantly more than the other two options. He’s struggled all season, and that comes on the heels of a horrible final quarter of last season. This off-season, general manager Steve Yzerman has made it clear that he is trying to qualify for the postseason, and if he doesn’t find a more consistent option in net, adding Patrick Kane, among others, will be all for nothing.

The Detroit Red Wings need to pursue a trade for goaltender John Gibson.

If the Detroit Red Wings are serious about ending their playoff drought, they must acquire a bona fide number-one goaltender. John Gibson, 30, fits the mold. The Anaheim Ducks have been free-falling in the standings of late, having gone 1-9 over their past ten contests and 10-17-0 overall this season. That’s just 20 points, third worst in the league, and a mere one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks.

Like Detroit, the Ducks have been trying to rebuild over the past few seasons. The Ducks general manager is former Red Wings/Lightning assistant GM Pat Verbeek. Verbeek won’t just give his pal a handout; a deal for Gibson must make sense for both organizations. Additional obstacles need to be ironed out before any trade conversations can begin between the Ducks and Red Wings. Gibson is in the fifth year of an eight-year, $51.2 million contract, and his ten-team no-trade list will allow him to have some say in where he ends up if dealt. Some fans will think it’s a bit too rich of a trade, but it will need to make sense for the Ducks, and at 30 years old, Gibson has plenty of tread left on the tires. Berggren, 23, is a valuable asset with a bunch of upside and could be dangled as the centerpiece of this hypothetical deal or something similar this season. Before you get angry, remember you need to give something to get something. You’re not getting a No. 1 goaltender for a bag of pucks and a used mouthpiece.

So far this season, Gibson has a 5-12-0 record with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. He’s produced a career 2.83 goals against average and .912 save percentage over 450 career appearances. In comparison, (this season) Husso has a 3.65 GAA/.886 save percentage, and Lyon maintains a 2.13 GAA and a .931 save percentage. Reimer sits with a 2.58 GAA and a .911 save percentage. A tandem of Gibson and Lyon would be ideal moving forward. He’d be a significant upgrade in the cage for the Detroit Red Wings.

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Regarding a trade package, maybe something like Jonatan Berggren and Ville Husso go the other way. Detroit would also likely need to add a draft pick into the mix as a pot sweetener, mainly to entice the Ducks to absorb Husso’s $4.75 million cap hit this year and next. Husso is just 28 years old, and although it feels like he just got to Detroit, a change of scenery may do him some good.