The Detroit Red Wings are currently sitting between a rock and a hard place when it comes to their goaltending situation. Over the past two games, Detroit has lost their top two netminders to injury. Despite making 14 of 15 saves this past Saturday, Alex Lyon was forced to leave the contest in Philadelphia due to injury. Lyon appeared to clutch his left side after making an awkward save and removed himself from the game after briefly testing his lateral movement. Lyon is considered week-to-week with that injury, so who really knows how long? The Detroit Red Wings don't indulge much injury information, and history has shown that more often than not, the player considered day-to-day is more of a week-to-week thing.
Speaking about week-to-week, just as we all took a deep breath knowing the Red Wings had three NHL goalies on the roster for this very reason, starter Ville Husso went down with an injury the very next game. Husso's injury, which occurred this past Monday against the Anaheim Ducks, appeared much worse than the one suffered by Lyon. Husso left the game with a leg injury and needed plenty of assistance off the ice and then help from two members of the training staff to get from the bench area down the tunnel and to the locker room. It was apparent that he was unable to put any weight on his right leg.
That leaves the Detroit Red Wings with 35-year-old James Reimer to shoulder the load for the time being, and may I add, without room for error. The Atlantic Division is rigorous, and the Detroit Red Wings saw themselves as high as the second seed earlier this year but have endured a tough stretch of late, going 1-5-1 over their past seven, sinking to fifth in the division with 34 points (ahead of their game on Wednesday night in Winnipeg). Heading into Wednesday's game in Winnipeg, Reimer has posted a 2-4-2 record with one shutout for the Detroit Red Wings this season, backed by a .907 save percentage and 2.61 goals against average. Those are not bad numbers for a No. 3 netminder, but he may be exploited over the next week or two with a vastly increased workload operating as an NHL No. 1 goaltender. In a corresponding move to the rash of injuries to the position, the Detroit Red Wings signed veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a one-year, two-way deal to serve as Reimer's backup. Hutchinson has some NHL experience, having appeared in a total of 153 games throughout his career, and maintains a .902 save percentage and 2.93 GAA. Hutchinson is 5-7-1 this season, splitting time in Grand Rapids with top prospect Sebastian Cossa, and maintained a 2.98 goals against average and a .895 save percentage.
The Detroit Red Wings need to consider trading for Elvis Merzlikins.
"“I wonder if the opportunity was right, if the Blue Jackets (would deal) Merzlikins,” Friedman pondered. “I had a couple of people on Sunday say that they can see the possibility of that, that maybe both the Blue Jackets and Merzlikins feel that it’s time for him to try somewhere else, but again, in the middle of the season that’s not an easy number for a lot of teams to absorb. So, there’s a few things that might have to happen here.”"
Merzlikins, 29, may be looking for a fresh start, and moving to Detroit wouldn't be the worst thing when it comes to travel and accommodations. Also, the Detroit Red Wings must be diligent and willing to upgrade their goaltending situation if they seriously want to make a postseason push this season. Although before the injury, Husso had been showing signs of the player general manager Steve Yzerman hoped he was obtaining when he traded for him, he's endured a lengthy period in which he's struggled mightily. That period dates back to the final couple of months last season and the majority of this year.
Lyon has proven to be an affordable backup goaltender and quite valuable this season, but he's never been asked to shoulder the workload of a bona fide No. 1 netminder. Reimer is nothing more than an aging backup with a ton of experience, but best suited as a No. 3 option. When all three are healthy, maybe you can justify upgrading the roster elsewhere and hope everyone remains healthy in goal and ride with the hot hand. When you look at the current situation in Detroit, looking for a better option seems like the logical, knowin this team won't be able to tread water long with the tandem of Reimer and Hutchinson.
Recently, I wrote about how goaltender John Gibson should be atop the Detroit Red Wings wishlist. I still stand by that and believe he should remain the top trade target. If he isn't available or a deal can't be worked out, maybe adding Merzlikins to the fray should be considered. The Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender is 7-8-4 this season with a .909 save percentage and a 3.19 goals-against average.