The Detroit Red Wings were truly bad throughout the 2019–20 season. Historically bad, even. One of the most glaring ways the Red Wings were awful was in net. The wheels fell off long-time dependable goaltender Jimmy Howard, who only won two games in 27 games played. Along with this miserable winning percentage, he also posted a .882 save percentage and 4.20 goals against average. This is not a Jimmy Howard hate article. The Red Wings largely wasted Howard’s best years, the issue is just that those best years are obviously behind him. The Red Wings don’t have much in the way of help coming in net through the organization either, meaning they may have to get reinforcements through a trade or free agency. One option might be Jacob Markstrom.
Jacob Markstrom Might Fit in Detroit
Markstrom heading to Detroit is not just a thought, as Jason Greger recently reported the Red Wings’ interest in the free agent goaltender.
“I’m hearing, if he goes to market, the Red Wings are looking to make a big pitch for Markstrom. I wonder if they give Markstrom his ask of $6m how it would impact others after Lehner signed for $5m in Vegas.” Woodley.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) September 21, 2020
With this reported interest and a clear hole in Detroit’s net, it starts to make sense that there is a potential marriage between these two parties.
Jacob Markstrom Money
To start, the Red Wings should have ample cap space. Detroit currently has a projected $34,675,000 in space. Though some important players need to be re-signed (Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, namely) there should still be plenty of space to give Markstrom everything he wants. That being said, The Red Wings also still have Jonathan Bernier under contract for next year. Bernier’s contract is worth $3,000,000. If Detroit were to pay Markstrom his reported asking price of $6,000,000 per year, could they be comfortable paying nearly $10,000,000 for a Markstrom–Bernier pair? Bernier played well last year, so that may work. Still, teams are looking to spend less on goaltending as it becomes more in-vogue to employ a 1 and 1A goalie system.
But would the Red Wings want to spend that much money on two goaltenders for a team that isn’t ready to compete even if they’re strong in net?
Jacob Markstrom’s Play
Though there are questions about the money, it’s indisputable the Red Wings could use Markstrom. The goaltender has spent the last couple of years as a peripheral Vezina candidate. Markstrom is not possibly leaving the Vancouver Canucks because he is not a quality goaltender, their break up may simply be because Thatcher Demko is ready to take the net and is significantly less expensive.
Markstrom registered a .918 save percentage this year and has registered above a .910 every year since the 2014–15 season. Not only has Markstrom been solid in recent years, but he has also proved that he can carry a heavy workload. The Swedish goaltender only started 43 games this year but had appeared in 60 games each of the previous two seasons. Markstrom may not be a top-three goaltender, but he’s certainly in the next tier.
The Final Verdict
Although there may be some questions about the allocation of resources in regards to the Red Wings acquiring Markstrom, it is clear that his arrival would signal a huge change in Detroit. Signing Markstrom would be reminiscent of the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring Frederik Andersen right before their rebuild went into full swing. The Red Wings have the money. Steve Yzerman should definitely be calling his agents number if the goaltender makes it to free agency.