The Detroit News is reporting (and the team’s official webpage has confirmed) that the Red Wings placed Ty Conklin on waivers earlier today. Detroit has been carrying three goalies since calling up Joey MacDonald at the beginning of this month originally as a back up for Conklin after starter Jimmy Howard suffered a broken finger during a game against Vancouver.
Ultimately, by placing Conklin on waivers, the Red Wings have decided to replace him with MacDonald as the back-up for Howard who is to return to the net tomorrow evening when they play the Blackhawks.
This creates an interesting opportunity at a perfect time for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pittsburgh’s loss to the recent-struggling Buffalo Sabres yesterday afternoon began with back-up goaltender, Brent Johnson, in net. Johnson has been a pretty solid back-up throughout his time with the Penguins, but that began to change this season. Johnson has started in a total of 13 games and only winning three of them to date. His current stats also illustrate his less-than-average play (.882 save percentage, SV%; and a 3.17 goals-against average, GAA). When compared to his stats from last season, we can clearly see that he’s not performing as well as he once had for the Penguins with .922 SV% and 2.17 GAA.
It’s somewhat obvious that the Penguins could use a new back-up goalie going into the final stretch of the regular season and to have any chance to make it past the first few rounds of the playoffs. Marc-Andre Fleury needs and will need a break in that amount of time which would require a dependable back-up. The newly-waived Conklin could be just what Pittsburgh needs right now.
To be fair, Conklin’s stats this season are a little worse than Johnson’s (.878 SV%, 3.40 GGA in 11 games total); however, Conklin isn’t a stranger to Pittsburgh having already been a back-up for Fleury in the 2007-08 season. His play was impressive and created a confidence for the team to allow Fleury to have breaks when he needed – a total of 33 games and 18 of them being wins (and stats close to that of Johnson’s from last season as mentioned above: .923 SV% and 2.51 GAA).
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh isn’t the only team that would benefit from a veteran goalie who still has a little good net-minding left in him. It’ll be interesting to see whether Conklin clears waivers by noon tomorrow and reports to the Red Wings AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. But something tells me that even if it’s not Pittsburgh that Conklin will be traveling to somewhere other than Grand Rapids.