Goalie market shrinks again: Red Wings land Ville Husso

Goalie market shrinks again: Red Wings land Ville Husso
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Once again, the Detroit Red Wings made a splash by surprisingly getting a goalie around NHL Draft week. Last year, Detroit traded for (and eventually signed) Alex Nedeljkovic. Before Round 2 of the 2022 NHL Draft began, the Red Wings traded for Ville Husso, then signed him to a three-year contract.

The Blues at least received a third-round pick (73rd overall) rather than seeing Husso leave for nothing at all as an unrestricted free agent.

Perhaps day two of the 2022 NHL Draft will really get the goalie shuffle going, as the Devils also traded for the rights to Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek. This post addresses that move, as well.

Red Wings trade for Ville Husso, add Boughner to coaching staff

The 2022-23 Red Wings are starting to come into greater focus.

The Red Wings confirmed the term of the Ville Husso contract as three years. Elliotte Friedman reports that Ville Husso’s salary cap hit could be $4.75 million per year.

If true, that means the Red Wings would invest $7.75M in the fairly young goalie duo of Husso (27) and Nedeljkovic (26). Of course, the Red Wings could also find a goalie-hungry team that would give up something interesting for Nedeljkovic.

Much like Nedeljkovic after getting an extended chance with the Hurricanes, Husso carries some early promise, but a pretty sparse NHL resume.

In briefly stealing the Blues’ No. 1 goalie job from Jordan Binnington, Husso went 25-7-6 with a .919 save percentage last season. This Hockey Viz captures one look at how Husso prevented more goals than expected in 2021-22:

Binnington overtook Husso during the playoffs, at least until the collision with Kadri. It was a rough postseason for Husso, as he sported a .890 save percentage in seven games.

Overall, Husso has just those seven playoff games and 57 regular-season NHL contests (40 last season, 17 in 2020-21) under his belt.

Clearly, the Red Wings are banking on his potential, and maybe they’re happy with his numbers at other levels (including the AHL).

If that $4.75M cap hit is correct, it’s not an astronomical gamble. But goalies are unpredictable, and this is a bet based on considerable faith.

In other Red Wings news, the team added to Derek Lalonde’s coaching staff. Bob Boughner serves as associate coach, while Alex Westlund will work with Husso as their new goalie coach.

This has already been a busy time for the Red Wings, as they selected Marco Kasper eighth overall during Round 1 on Thursday.

If the Blues don’t have Jordan Binnington to start the season, it could be a tough beginning of the campaign. Either way, they’ve completed quite the investment/re-investment in Binnington. Time will tell if that was the right call, or if maybe they should’ve sold high on Binnington’s playoff finish instead?

Devils trade for Vanecek

It’s been quite the year-and-change for Vitek Vanecek.

Initially, the Kraken picked Vanecek in the expansion draft. The Capitals sent Seattle a second-round pick to get Vanecek back.

Now, the Capitals once again parted ways with Vanecek. They moved up from 46 to 37, while also adding the 70th pick while the Devils gain his rights.

Vanecek, 26, has 79 NHL games under his belt. In both 2020-21 and 2021-22, Vanecek generated a .908 save percentage.

It will be interesting to see if the Devils go with a goalie duo of Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood. Blackwood, 25, is in the final year of a deal that carries a $2.8M cap hit. From there, he’d be set to become an RFA.

Maybe a goalie-needy team would want to take a chance on Blackwood, hoping a contract year spurs a big season?

Either way, the free agent goalie ranks keep shrinking. The Wild took Marc-Andre Fleury off the market, and now the Red Wings nabbed one of the would-be biggest names in Ville Husso.

Could more dominoes fall? Stay tuned.

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