Detroit Red Wings Need To Upgrade Backup Goaltender Spot

Jonas Gustavsson

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings are set between the pipes for the next several years. They locked up one of the top goaltenders in the league, in Jimmy Howard, for the next six years with an in-season extension. Howard promptly validated that contract, with a fantastic performance down the stretch and in the postseason.

But that doesn’t mean that the Red Wings shouldn’t have a bit of concern over their goaltending situation. In fact, they should be very concern about what’s going in net when Howard isn’t there. He’ll get a huge majority of the starts, no doubt, but what happens when he’s not there?

As of right now, Jonas Gustavsson is the man behind Howard in the Detroit net. And in the event of a rough stretch, or an injury, to Howard, Gustavsson isn’t exactly a guy you want stepping up and starting several consecutive games. He’s never really been able to put it together in his career, despite decent potential.

He started only four games for the Wings in 2013, but had a goals against average up near three and a save percentage of just .879. Whenever he’s in the net, it’s an adventure. He has a year left on his contract, but the Red Wings may want to seriously consider looking at an outside solution as their backup.

One potential target could be Johan Hedberg. He only has a year or two left in him, but is serviceable as a backup. Another potential option could be Jose Theodore, who’s capable of starting over a decent stretch if the worst happens and something actually happens to Howard. Either one presents an upgrade as a no. 2 over Gustavsson.

In the end, the Wings likely won’t make the move to replace Gustavsson. He’ll remain the no. 2 guy, and it’ll be interesting to see if he could put it together, or if the Red Wings will struggle as mightily as they could when Howard has a night off.

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  • Jeff Puim

    Petr Mrazek

    • BossWolf

      They want to leave Mrazek in GR where he will play a high percentage of games to get experience on smaller NA rinks. If he was in Detroit he would be pushing pine and avoiding bench splinters .. not good for a young goaltender who needs to learn how to play not how to sit.

  • Colin Brandys

    We definitely won’t do anything, we have no cap room for a new guy and we have Mrazek in the minors. Howard is a work horse and he does well playing a ton of games. The Monster can fill in as backup well enough (he’ll still probably be 500 for wins as the team in front of him is good and that’s good enough to not hurt the team all that much). Furthermore the Monster has some potential for improvement as he was once a highly touted goalie and one never knows. As far as injuries go we have Mrazek who can fill in as the #1 if Howard gets hurt (which would be good for his development and probably wouldn’t hurt the team very much as far as winning goes) or the #2 if Gustavsson is hurt (certainly is not ideal because we want Mrazek to start as much as possible). Overall I don’t think back up goaltending is an issue, the salary cap and our 16 forwards on the other hand is.