Detroit Red Wings: Injuries and Free Agency to Determine Future in Net

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIJanuary 20, 2011

Detroit Red Wings: Injuries and Free Agency to Determine Future in Net

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings rests during a break in the action against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Jon
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings keeps his eyes on the action against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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.

Chris Osgood

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    DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 2:  Chris Osgood #30 of the Detroit Red Wings turns a shot away in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 2, 2011 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Flyers defeated the Wings 3-2. (Photo by Claus Anderzen/Get
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    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.  

Ty Conklin

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 15:  Goalie Ty Conklin #29 of the St. Louis Blues warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on November 15, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalacnhe defeated the Blues 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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.

Joey MacDonald

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 18:  Joey MacDonald #31 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a glove save against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on January 18, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    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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    LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 09:  Tom McCollum #35 of Team USA tends the net against Team Sweden at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp on August 9, 2008 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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?

Daniel Larsson

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21:  Daniel Larsson #31 of the Detroit Red Wings tends net in warmups prior to the preseason game against the New York Rangers  at Madison Square Garden on September 21, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Image
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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.

Robin Lehner/Mike Broduer

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    OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 14:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators defends his net during warmup before a game against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Place on January 14, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada. The Flames won 3-2. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Image
    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    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.

Jose Theodore

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  Goaltender Jose Theodore #60 of the Minnesota Wild takes a breather against the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 8, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    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.

Martin Biron

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11:  Martin Biron #43 of the New York Rangers warms up before playing against the Montreal Canadiens on January 11, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    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.