The Detroit Red Wings added Patrick Kane, and although he's just ten games into his tenure with the organization, he's been just as advertised. Kane is operating at a point-per-game clip and has totaled five goals and ten points this season. Oddly, since joining the organization, as Tom Petty would say, they have been free-fallin' in the Atlantic Division. Sure, there are various reasons why, mostly a rash of injuries, but Detroit once controlled the second position behind Boston in the Atlantic. The Red Wings' ship has been taking on water, and they currently sit fifth with 36 points, three behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Following the holiday freeze, general manager Steve Yzerman needs to weigh all of his options and decide whether he feels that the Detroit Red Wings can make a serious push to qualify for the postseason or if they will become sellers once again at the trade deadline. I don't even want to think about the idea of Detroit becoming sellers again; I don't want this organization to be stuck in neutral.
The Detroit Red Wings need to look into upgrading their goaltending situation.
This won't be easy. Goaltending around the league is rough. Well, it's not that goaltending around the NHL has suddenly rapidly declined; it's more about the league wanting more excitement and goal-scoring. That's why we see so many more power play opportunities within the modern game than in years past. When you look around the league, you can see at least six or seven playoff-hopeful clubs that will want to upgrade their goaltending situation before the trade deadline. The problem? There will only be three or so No. 1 netminders available, and as expected, the asking price from those teams will soar like the interest rates.
Yzerman elected to roster three goaltenders this year because both of his backups come in at a reasonable price and don't look now; Detroit is without starter Ville Husso for 'quite some time,' and Alex Lyon, who had been giving the Red Wings the best opportunity to win is expected to be out through Christmas. It's unclear if he will be ready to play when Detroit returns to the ice on Wednesday in Minnesota. That leaves James Reimer and Michael Hutchinson to shoulder the load, which is not ideal for a club struggling of late. In any of these potential deals, Yzerman will need to move Husso, who, at 28 years old, will have some trade appeal, but none of these would be a one-for-one deal. Yzerman will need to sweeten the pot with a combination of prospects or pick(s). The price depends on which netminder he opts to target.
Recently, I talked about how the Detroit Red Wings should consider adding a bona fide No. 1 goaltender like John Gibson. Gibson, 30, is under contract through the 2026-27 season and carries a cap hit of $6.4 million. Yzerman and Ducks GM Pat Verbeek have a lengthy history of working together and should be able to hammer out a deal that both organizations will be happy with. The Ducks are in the midst of a rebuild, and Verbeek himself said they will be a couple of years away from making a playoff push. This suggests that Gibson, who had been the center of trade conversations last season, could be on the move. Gibson is 6-13-0 this season with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. He's most recently been linked to the New Jersey Devils, who currently sit like Detroit with 36 points on the season but with two games in hand.
I also spoke about potentially adding Elvis Merzlikins from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Merzlikins, 29, is 7-8-5 with a .909 save percentage and a 3.17 goals-against average. Like Gibson, Merzlikins is under contract through the 2026-27 season but is slightly cheaper at $5.4 million per season. Slightly more affordable, but not as good. I still believe he'd be a slight upgrade to Husso, but probably not enough to draw serious attention from Yzerman.
The last option has quickly become my favorite. You know how much Yzerman loves big, tall goaltenders; well, I present you with Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom, 33, is a towering 6-foot-6 and is a very accomplished, steady goaltender who could be on the move. Markstrom is under contract for two more years following this season at $6 million per season, and if Calgary falls off in January, he could become a prime candidate to be on the move. Age is a concern, but he could be the perfect bridge to Sebastian Cossa. Markstrom has maintained a stellar .909 save percentage and 2.72 goals-against average over his 14-year career. This season for the Flames, he's 8-9-2 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.