Detroit Red Wings Erred In Letting Joey MacDonald Go

By Franklin Steele
Joey Macdonald Detroit Red Wings
Rick Osentoski – US Presswire

Joey MacDonald was claimed off of waivers by the Calgary Flames on Monday, and no one in Detroit Red Wings land seems to care. Which really bugs me since it’s a mildly eyebrow-raising maneuver.

Goaltenders that can take spot-starts in the NHL at a moment’s notice are a commodity worth investing in and keeping around in my eyes. Kenny Holland added goaltender depth by signing Jonas Gustavvson during the off-season, but the man commonly referred to as “the Monster” has yet to suit up for Detroit due to injury.

The Wings had eight NHL regulars missing from their roster when they took on the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Eight. Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Brendan Smith, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mikael Samuelsson, Jan Mursak and Gustavvson were all on the IR for the “rivalry night” game of the week.

I don’t think I have to stress to you how crazy that is. Or how important depth at all positions is. Depth wins Stanley Cups and (as we are seeing now) depth also gives you a shot at making the playoffs when injuries strike.

Despite being down two top-six forwards, an incredibly important third line center and penalty killer, a top young player and two off-season free agent signings that were expected to come in and make an impact plus a backup netminder the Red Wings are still looking good to make the playoffs yet again.

So why Holland and Co. decided to let a piece of that depth walk for free to Calgary is beyond me.

Was MacDonald ever going to be a starter at the NHL level? Unless he has some Tim Thomas buried somewhere deep inside, the 33 year old is probably a depth goaltender for life. Yet the Red Wings are a (Hockey God’s forbid) Jimmy Howard injury away from being forced to rely on (barely) 21 year-old Petr Mrazek.

If Mrazek doesn’t pan out, Detroit doesn’t have much in the way of “goaltenders waiting in the Wings.” The net is actually the team’s weakest depth chart position by far.

If this had been another spare forward, fine. I could have lived with losing a guy from the forward lines because Detroit has depth there. In fact, the depth that this team has at forward is mildly mind-bending.

In net there isn’t a whole lot.

I understand the likely motivation here. Mrazek has shown that he could—at the very least—be a rock solid backup for the Wings if need be. Howard is clearly the man and is in line for a new contract this season. Monster is in town until the end of the 2013-14 season. Perhaps hanging on to MacDonald would have been too much?

Sadly, I’ll have to agree to disagree here. Even with Joey Mac on board Detroit simply didn’t have the depth to let him go for nothing. I’m not wanting to assume that no phone calls were made, but losing a guy with over 100 games of NHL experience in goal for the cost of a plane ticket just seems silly to me.

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