Saturday, June 7, 2008

Road to Repeat: Goaltending

Maybe the most solid and intrigue-less position for the Red Wings is goaltending. Osgood is entrenched as the starter, obviously, and will be back for the next three years at a meager 1.4M cap hit. Osgood will likely transition to backup over the life of his contract, depending mostly on how Jimmy Howard performs.

And it will be Howard as the #2, no doubt about that. Kenny Holland is saying nice things, that if Dom wants to come back they'll sit down and talk, but KH isn't planning on it and if there is a talk it will amount to "thanks for your service." I've read some national pundits say Howard needs another year. Are you kidding? Three in college and three in the AHL? He's ready. Need further proof? Take a look at his performance this season against Dallas, a 1-0 loss in a critical game. He's ready.

Hasek is one of the greatest goalies of all time, and I don't believe his skills or his passion deteriorated this season. As has been noted, the four straight against Nashville was the first time Hasek played four straight all season. His body is just no longer willing. The Wings can maybe count him for short bursts (which I suppose is what you want in a backup) but they need to get Howard NHL experience so they aren't caught with their pants down when Osgood retires.

Ansar Khan at MLive says much the same, that Hasek's time is past and the Wings need to get a good look at Howard. However, he suggests that if Howard doesn't cut it this year the Wings should jettison him and go for Ryan Miller, as has been speculated all year. Earlier this year I posted about how ludicrous it is for the Wings to target Miller. A lot has been said about the Wings' enormous cap space and it's true the Wings are in great shape for next year. But that's because Z and Franzen will still be on very cheap deals (2.45M and 0.9M respectively). In 09-10 those numbers will go up dramatically and the Wings will be counting on that when they make their moves this offseason and next. Miller will be the premiere goaltender on the market when he hits and will command 6M at least. The Wings will not be able to afford this, and as Holland has said, the Wings don't spend money on goaltending - they spend it on defense.

To quote myself:
-the only reasonable move would be to trade Rafalski, which might happen only if the Wings are very happy with Ericsson and the other young D's development, and very unhappy with Osgood/Howard
-but if Osgood stays steady and Howard develops well, why would you even entertain the notion?
-boldface allows you to highlight key ideas and is fun to use!
-avs suck
If Howard struggles next year the Wings will stick with him and be patient, as they always have (unless Osgood falls off dramatically). If Howard still doesn't develop the Wings will move to the next guy - Daniel Larsson. Larsson was compared to Henrik Lundqvist two years ago when he was drafted. This past year Larsson won the Honken Award (best goalie) and the Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year while playing for Djurgarden. Having done all he can do in the SEL, Larsson will be the Griffins' horse next year and the year after. If he follows the Jimmy Howard route for goaltending development, he'll be ready for the NHL just as Chris Osgood's contract is expiring. The Wings will then have the option of going with the two youngsters or re-upping Osgood and dealing one of the kids (or keeping Larsson stashed in GR.)

-Osgood is like... what's the adjective I'm looking for... competent? effective? great? something like that. If only his name contained such a word, I could make a clever pun!
-Hasek is an all-time great, but he's done.
-Much like Whitney Houston, I believe that children are our future, and Jimmy Howard is one such child.
-Miller is unrealistic. Get over it. (Unless things change dramatically, mind you. The Wings could always make space or the cap could go up wildly or something.)
-Larsson ensures the Wings have a Plan B when it comes to developing the next Wings franchise goaltender.
-new banner! yes!