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Starting goalie Jimmy Howard was signed to a two-year deal this year, although the deal was not as long as he had hoped or as many expected. Do the Wings have full faith in Howard? He had an impressive first season with the team. This year wasn’t bad, but his numbers declined in goals against and save percentage compared to last year.
While the Wings would like to think that he is the goalie of the future, they are not 100 percent sold yet. The expectations in Detroit all revolve around the Cup, and Howard's performance in the playoffs will affect the team's upcoming offseason moves.
The bigger issue for the team is a backup netminder. Will Chris Osgood retire? After missing most of the season after sports hernia surgery Osgood tried to make a return towards the end of the season. A setback in training has shelved him for the time being. Will the Wings bring him back for one more year? Will he want to play one more year?
Joey MacDonald struggled at times this year and at other times looked decent. His goals-against average was the best of his career but he is a career backup goalie. His likely future role is as a backup—what is to be determined is if that role will be in Detroit.
In the minors the Wings have Jordan Pearce and Thomas McCollum, neither of which appears ready to make the big jump.
During the season, the Wings tried to sign Evgeni Nabokov but were thwarted by the New York Islanders. If he becomes available again this offseason it is likely that the Wings would still be interested.
Beyond those options, the Wings would be wise to dabble in the free-agent market. They will need to find someone who will either improve the backup position or to push Howard for the starting spot. Tomas Vokoun has been a solid goalie on many a mediocre team throughout his career. Now at age 33, he may be willing to take less money to come play for the Wings.
Ty Conklin, who spent time in Detroit, will also be a free agent this offseason. He posted good numbers in Detroit, could be had for cheap and would be able to fill either role.