For all the big, medium, and small names still available in 2020 NHL Free Agency, just about all of the noteworthy goalies have been snatched up. That point reverberates after the Detroit Red Wings signed Thomas Greiss to a two-year contract.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the contract is worth $7.2 million ($3.6M AAV), and that the Red Wings signed Griess to a back-loaded deal ($2.8M in 2020-21, $4.4M in 2021-22).
Red Wings sign Thomas Greiss off of suddenly shallow NHL free agent goalie market
Greiss, 34, just concluded his fifth season with the Islanders. He started his career as a lightly-used backup with the Sharks, then bounced to the Coyotes (2013-14) and Penguins (2014-15).
From 2015-16 and on, Greiss became a platoon asset for the Islanders. He played in 193 games, going 101-60-17 with a .915 save percentage. Greiss left a heartfelt message to Islanders fans and the organization after signing with the Red Wings:
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My time on Long Island was the best portion of my career. From the fans to ownership – I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Although there were ups and downs, New York became my home. I owe a heartfelt thank you to Barry Trotz, Mitch Korn, Pierre Greco and Lou Lamoriello for pushing me and developing my skill to a new level. I’ll forever be grateful and hope to continue your legacy wherever my next destination may be.Thank you to my teammates for their support, ownership for always being fair, the late Mr. Wong for giving me the opportunity and most of all the fans who supported me throughout. I’ll see you all on my return to The Island.
For the Red Wings, they replace outgoing veteran goalie Jimmy Howard with Greiss. Generally speaking, Greiss has been more dependable than Howard lately, especially considering a rough 2019-20 for Howard.
That said, Greiss shined brightest playing within Barry Trotz’s stingy system. The rebuilding Red Wings are unlikely to provide a similar safety net.
Overall, Greiss’ greatest value may come from helping the Red Wings improve incrementally, and maybe even in a future trade or expansion draft maneuver. Considering that shrinking market of NHL free agent goalies, it’s a touch surprising Greiss didn’t land with a contender, but he gains some financial security for his troubles.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.