The Detroit Red Wings require a backup goalie. With Thomas Greiss seeing his contract expire and becoming an unrestricted free agent, the team has to find a new netminder to fill the backup role. While the team has several in-house options to consider, it might not be the worst thing in the world to outsource.
After all, the Detroit Red Wings will have plenty of salary cap room to work with, as it is slated to increase for the first time in several seasons, leaving the Red Wings with room to make things happen. Signing a goalie to serve as a backup to Alex Nedeljkovic on a one- or two-year contract may not be the worst thing in the world.
One thing is clear; the Red Wings need to ensure they have a capable backup for several reasons. If Nedeljkovic gets hurt, this netminder has to step up into the role, and they have to trust whoever is taking over. No one wants to watch Magnus Hellberg be the backup in a role that would likely entail the Red Wings plummeting.
On the flipside, Sebastian Cossa has a bright future ahead of him. The catch with Cossa is that it will take some time for him to get to the NHL. After a stellar season in the WHL, he is inching closer but still will need some time with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
That being said, the Red Wings should explore someone on the free-agent market to be a part of the team moving forward.
Here are three goalies for the Detroit Red Wings to consider.
The Detroit Red Wings have cap room; they will be able to spend some money. This does not mean they should go out and spend $10 million a year on a top-tier netminder; though, Darcy Kuemper is an attractive name if they can get him around $7-8 million annually.
That’s a bit excessive, though, if the team believes Nedeljkovic or Cossa is the answer long-term. Here are three options for the Red Wings to consider ahead of the 2022-23 season.
The Detroit Red Wings should consider the journeyman backup goalie who has bounced around in his day. Louis Domingue is 29 years old and has been in the league for the last eight seasons. He’s not going to be a dominant guy who provides much competition for Nedeljkovic.
But, Domingue has an established role as a backup with experience. He may not have logged much playing time in recent years, totaling just three games played in each of the last two seasons. But he would be a solid stopgap goaltender to allow Nedeljkovic to try and find success.
He would not overshadow Cossa if he were surging in Grand Rapids, warranting a call-up. Domingue is cheap, costing just $750,000 on his contract in 2021-22. I find it hard to think that he would cost more than this from the Red Wings for the 2022-23 season.
Though, if the Red Wings were set on Domingue, they could afford to bump up the value. Domingue was the backup for the Tampa Bay Lightning when Steve Yzerman was there, so there is a connection between the two. A one-year contract with minimal financial commitment is something to consider.
Another netminder who is a tier up from Domingue is Casey DeSmith and deserves the Detroit Red Wings’ attention on the free-agent market. He’s served in a backup role to Tristan Jarry with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and is coming off a more than a serviceable season.
DeSmith logged 26 games for the Penguins, producing an 11-6-5 record, a .914 save percentage, and a 2.79 goals-against average. He’s been solid, to say the least. He’s a four-year veteran of the National Hockey League (NHL), finding ways to be effective when called upon by the Penguins.
The Penguins had DeSmith on a three-year contract with a $1.25 million cap hit annually. However, seeing his performance stay so consistent in this backup role. Shelling out a little bit more money to see him be the team’s backup.
Frankly, a deal in the $3 million range, even a possible two-year, $6-7 million (total) deal, is not the worst thing in the world for a 30-year-old backup. The Red Wings are silly not to consider DeSmith, who has been an accurate model of consistency in his time with the Penguins.
Lastly, the Detroit Red Wings have to consider signing Martin Jones, who has been around the league for the past nine seasons. The 32-year-old netminder has a Stanley Cup under his belt and has been a starter at times in his career.
He spent the 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he appeared in 35 games, boasting a 12-18-3 record, a .900 save percentage, and 3.42 goals-against. It was a down year compared to his time with the San Jose Sharks, where he produced a .907 save percentage and 2.66 goals-against average over his six seasons there.
However, his experience in nine seasons in the NHL might be of value to the Red Wings. Assuming the Red Wings are hoping for a one-year deal, Jones is the player to target. He made just $2 million with the Flyers this season and could likely be had for a similar amount in 2022-23.
The Red Wings need to consider the veteran netminder to be the backup they need for the 2022-23 season. They have time to figure this out and narrow down the options, but the Red Wings should consider all three of these netminders.
Avoiding the in-house options and opting to sign a free agent goalie feels like the best option for the Red Wings moving forward. Though, I will stand by my statement that the Red Wings need to trust the Yzerplan.