Detroit Red Wings: Injuries and Free Agency to Determine Future in Net
Injuries have knocked both Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood out of net for the Detroit Red Wings. Osgood will be out at least six to eight weeks as he recovers from a sports hernia. Howard’s injury initially looked bad, but it appears he will be back this week.
Beyond the injury concerns is the fact that both of these goalies will be free agents after this season. What are the Red Wings' plans? Will they bring in someone before the trade deadline, sign Howard long-term or bring in somebody in the offseason?
Here are some options for the Wings. Some are long-term, some short-term. One concern for this season is if Osgood will be able to make it back and be ready to go for the playoffs.
Jimmy Howard: Their First Choice
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Really, the issue here will be money. Howard has $800k on the salary cap this year. On the open market he will be able to earn some big money.
In order to stay with Detroit, he would have to be willing to take less money; the trade off would be knowing that he is on a team that can contend for the cup most years. His numbers last year proved his worth, and he really has not gone through the typical sophomore slump.
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At 38, this 400 game winner is nearing the end of the line. Nagging injuries have slowed him the last two seasons, but hopefully the sports hernia operation will set things right—a perfect insurance policy, especially at playoff time. As long as he stays cheap, and he should, it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't be back.
The real question for this season is if he will make it back and be ready in time for the playoffs. The Wings may be forced to bring someone in before the trade deadline just in case.
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Conklin played for the Wings during the '08-'09 season and did very well, posting 25 wins and a 2.51 GAA while splitting time in net.
He currently is with the St Louis Blues and his stats haven’t been the greatest. He is a free agent after this season. If the Wings want someone who knows the system and can fill in when needed, they could make a move for Conklin before the trade deadline. As a free agent, Conklin should have a cheap price tag as well.
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He has an overall record of 19-39 with a 3.26 goals-against average and .900 save percentage spread out over 76 NHL games with the Wings, Islanders, Leafs and Bruins.
So far in replacing the injured Howard he has given up at least four goals in each start. It does not appear that he is the one to carry the load over the long-term as a starter, and based on these numbers may not be the best choice for the backup spot either.
The Draft Pick: Thomas McCollum
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The first-round pick of the Wings in 2008 hasn't played in an NHL regular season game yet. At 6'2", he is a big athletic goaltender who reportedly has great rebound control and a lot of confidence. The Wings are usually very slow and cautious in bringing up talent; is it too early bring McCollum up full time?
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The third-round pick of the Red Wings has yet to play a regular season game. He did well playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, posting GAA of 2.75 and 2.85 over two seasons. He returned to Sweden to play in the Elite League. The Wings still retain his NHL rights until 2013, but he's not likely to jump straight back the the big leagues.
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Ottawa has two young goalies but neither has enough NHL playing time to know how good they will be. With Ottawa needing help in many places, it is hard not to imagine the Wings being able to offer something for one of these keepers.
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Now the second man in Minnesota, his $1.1 million salary cap is manageable hit to the cap. A solid goaltender that would easily help calm any nerves about Osgood not returning.
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The Rangers backup goalie has a larger price tag than the other options. He has been a valuable asset to the Rangers, and they will be reluctant to move him.
However, with New York clinging to the seventh playoff spot, one has to wonder if they would make a move to get an everyday player.
Biron would fit in nicely with the Red Wings.