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Doing the combat math: Red Wings not signing a goalie + #30 available = Osgood redux

Okay, so the Red Wings announced that they would hold a conference call featuring Chris Osgood, GM Ken Holland and the media at 12 PM EDT tomorrow via their Twitter feed, and after I blathered about it via my first penned-while-in-the-car-on-my-phone blog entry, Bill beat me to the punch while I was stuck in Wal-Mart (vacations must be preceded by vacation clothes shopping with the 61-year-old parent who loses track of time), noting that the Free Press’s Helene St. James posited the following:

The Red Wings have scheduled a conference call for Tuesday to announce goaltender Chris Osgood will be back for another season.

Osgood, 38, spent much of last season injured, unable to play past January after undergoing sports hernia surgery. The Wings explored bringing in a new backup goaltender when free agency began July 1, including making an offer to Tomas Vokoun, but were unable to find anyone. That prompted them to reconsider Osgood.

Osgood went 5-3-2 last season with a .903 save percentage and 2.77 goals-against average. Just before he went under the knife he became the 10th goalie in NHL history to reach 400 victories. He’s also been in net for two Stanley Cups, and led the Wings all the way to Game 7 of the ’09 Finals.

Given his immense experience and his great relationship with starter Jimmy Howard, Osgood would have been a slam-dunk immediate re-signing were it not for his recent history of injuries.

The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness offers some very real concerns as to whether Osgood’s fit to play…

Osgood, 38, was sidelined midway through last season and wound up needing sports hernia surgery. He was unable to return after suffering a few setbacks during his recovery. He last played on Jan. 4.

Osgood said during the end- of-season locker cleanout that hadn’t put much thought into returning for another season.

The Wings have also had talks with Ty Conklin, 35, who remains unsigned, about possibly backing up Howard. Conklin played one season with Detroit (2008-09) and recorded a career-high 25 wins, going 25-11-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

He played the last two seasons with the St. Louis Blues in a backup role, struggling last year with a record of 8-8-4 and a 3.22 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. Conklin, who was not claimed when the Blues placed him on waivers last February, made $1.4 million last season.

Last week, the Wings re-signed Joey MacDonald.

While the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan gave a very honest ????

The Red Wings have announced a noon conference call for Tuesday with general manager Ken Holland and goalie Chris Osgood.

There were no other details on the press release.

The key question over the last few weeks has been whether Osgood, 38, is returning to play for one more season — or retiring?

Holland and Osgood were scheduled to meet last weekend in Vernon, British Columbia, where both spend the majority of their summers.

And MLive’s Ansar Khan reviewed the situation:

The team provided no other details. Holland did not return a call seeking comment. Holland and Osgood were scheduled to meet this past weekend in Vernon, British Columbia, where both have summer homes.

Holland said last week that he wanted to speak with Osgood face-to-face before deciding on a backup goalie. He said he wanted to determine Osgood’s health and motivation.

Osgood, 38, told Holland after the season that he would like to play another season. The club’s main concern was his health. Osgood had surgery for a sports hernia on Jan. 11 and didn’t play the rest of the season, experiencing a couple of setbacks in March.

Joey MacDonald, signed last week to a two-year contract to serve as the organization’s No. 3 goalie, backed up Jimmy Howard’s the second half of the season and in the playoffs.

The Red Wings pursued several goalies through free agency, including Tomas Vokoun, who signed with Washington, Jose Theodore (Florida) and Mike Smith (Phoenix). But all wanted starting roles and weren’t interested in backing up Howard and playing only 20-25 games.

Holland also has talked with the agent for former Red Wing Ty Conklin and said last week he was offered a goalie through a trade.

Here’s what I know: the Red Wings told both Chris Osgood and Kris Draper that the team would determine the players’ futures with the organization by attempting to re-sign its own players and then by exploring the marketplace for free agent additions.

It’s July 18th, and between the end of June and today, the Wings re-signed Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, and with both Jan Mursak (who’s made the team) and Cory Emmerton (who has to earn a spot) competing for the 13th and 14th forward’s spots as they cannot be sent to the AHL without clearing waivers, there simply isn’t a spot for Draper unless he’s willing to take a try-out contract—and he reaffirmed to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that he does not wish to have to fight for a job.

On the goaltending front, Tomas Vokoun contacted the Wings, not the other way around (at least if my Czech’s decent), and Holland has stated that he did speak to goalies who pursued other options.

That leaves Ty Conklin, Marty Turco, Ray Emery and Pascal Leclaire out there as the goaltenders with solid resumes—and Turco, Emery and Leclaire probably want to wait to see whether a starter’s job is open—so we’re basically talking about a downgrade from Osgood’s resume to an upgrade in health in Conklin as the team’s other option…

And as Jim Nill told me last week, the Wings re-signed Joey MacDonald to a 2-year contract because he was comfortable being an “insurance policy,” mentoring Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce in Grand Rapids and serving as the team’s #2B goaltender.

The Wings have explored their options, and they haven’t signed anyone but Joey MacDonald, nor have they really gotten serious with anyone but Ty Conklin…

And as Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon notes, the Wings aren’t bringing Osgood or Holland back from British Columbia to engage in an in-person presser with teammates present.

At noon on July 19th, the Wings haven’t found anybody better out there. That suggests that Ken Holland and the Wings’ braintrust would prefer to bring back a known quantity in Osgood, who’s been a tremendous mentor for Jimmy Howard and is OK with playing 20-30 games, at a discounted salary instead of going out and tossing $1.5-2 million at a back-up who can’t provide the leadership, mentorship or, “We’ve got a 400-game-winner who knows how to thrive not facing any quality scoring chances for 40 minutes and then having to stop 25 shots over the last period of play” Wings-style-of-hockey-as-it-applies-to-goaltending model.

Unless there’s a major curveball in the works, Osgood’s coming back.

Quickie update: NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman will probably take part in the conference call as he’s on call this evening, and Puck Daddy’s either critiquing or picking a fight with Bill, depending on your point of view.

Again, the bottom line remains the same for the team—they’re probably done making any moves save announcing Draper’s hiring as a strength and conditioning coach until the fall, barring any surprise buy-outs during the arbitration season (July 20-August 3) who fall into their laps, and the team will have oodles of cap space to go out and patch up any holes should Osgood falter and/or suffer another injury, as well as any concerns about their blueline’s ability to withstand Brian Rafalski’s departure and/or their worries about size and strength up front.

For now, it appears that the Wings will announce that Osgood’s returning and, eventually, that Draper’s retiring, and that should be it for the summer as the team will have the insurance (MacDonald) and cap space to address any concerns down the line.

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Comments

Avatar

He’s retiring.

He’s retiring.

He’s retiring.

If I keep saying it, it will be true.

I still don’t understand the logic behind announcing a presser to announce a re-signing (that’s re-signing people, not resigning).

Posted by Garth on 07/18/11 at 09:49 PM ET

Ducksworth's avatar

I love Ozzie but its his time to go

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 07/18/11 at 10:21 PM ET

snafu's avatar

What is so bad about Conklin that he had to wait for Ozzie’s golfing trip to Scotland and Ireland to find out that a guy who hasn’t played decent hockey since 2008 is being brought back?


I don’t get Holland this year.  I honestly don’t.

Posted by snafu from North America on 07/18/11 at 11:13 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

It’s only Ozzie’s time if he says it is tomorrow or if come training camp his body breaks down again. Hasek came back after having a series of problems more than once in his career, and at his worst he had a string of seasons similar to what Ozzie has gone through. If Hasek could not only return but continue to play into his 40’s, why can’t Ozzie play at least one more season as a 30 game backup? Unless the argument is that it’s easier to come back and spit the season even, but I think 30 games would provide Ozzie with the consistent game play pacing he needs to stay fresh and healthy. If Ozzie is finally healthy his performance in net should be solid, and he is the best backup option for Howard for at least one more season in a large part because he, like Joey Mac, wants to work with Howard. If a healthy someone else was willing to sign this would not be a conference call, it would be a retirement press conference.

Posted by Bradley97 on 07/18/11 at 11:20 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The best way I can put things is as follows:

If Osgood were to retire, there would be a good 40-50% of Wings fans suggesting that he retired too soon or that he was forced out, perhaps unfairly.

If Osgood comes back, there would be a good 40-50% of Wings fans who will suggest that he’s washed up, tired out, too banged up or too old to keep going, and that Conklin or someone else would be a better bet.

In other words, about half the fan base is going to be pissed off tomorrow.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/18/11 at 11:28 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“about half the fan base is going to be pissed off tomorrow”

This.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 07/19/11 at 12:11 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

OK, I still don’t get why they would have a press conference (by phone or otherwise) just to announce that Ozzie is coming back for a year.

There was no big press conference when it was announced that Nick Lidstrom was coming back.

On the other hand, Brian Rafalski did have a press conference to announce he was retiring.

This whole thing has been weird.

And “weird” violates the whole “i before e except after c” thing…

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 07/19/11 at 12:17 AM ET

snafu's avatar

Half the fan base supports Ozzie coming back?  It’s not a question of popularity.  I like Oz, think he’s a great guy.  I don’t want Ozzie and his paper mache groin back.

In other words, there are necessary, and perhaps, well considered risks.  This one is not necessary, and why would it be a well considered one?  There is NO good hockey reason to bring Ozzie back.

Posted by snafu from North America on 07/19/11 at 12:18 AM ET

Avatar

I do not know how to get this message across to people.  Conklin’s year with Detroit was a fluke.  He is not capable of winning 25 games at the AHL level, let alone in the bigs.  He gives up uncontrolled rebounds on every shot.  His defense must work so hard they are worn out half way through the game. 

Turco just plain scares me.  Chicago found out about him last year.

The only goalie out there that has any appeal to me is Ray Emery and there are two big issues there.  Can he stay healthy?  I think that is about on the level of the risk with Osgood.  What is his mental state?  He left the impression that he was less than stable when he was in Ottawa.

If we end up with Joey MacDonald as the backup, all is not lost as he is capable of doing that job quite efficiently.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Reidsville, NC on 07/19/11 at 12:27 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

In other words, about half the fan base is going to be pissed off tomorrow.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/18/11 at 09:28 PM ET

It’s not that I don’t like Ozzie, far from it; I just don’t think he can play at a 2008 level anymore, or even a 2.5 GAA and a .900 save percentage.

Of course…Spring of ‘09…he told us all to STFU.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/19/11 at 01:21 AM ET

snafu's avatar

Besides, George just made that number up.  For all we know, 98% of Wings fans might be scratching their head about a signing like this one.  smile

Posted by snafu from North America on 07/19/11 at 01:47 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

All of the currently available free agent fgoaltenders have question marks—age, injury, recent histories of declining performance, etc.

Seems plausible to me that KH explored his options this summer and has simply concluded that, at this moment at least, Osgood is the best available option.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that it’s still up to Ozzie to show up and prove to everyone from training camp forward that he is still capable of playing at a high level in the NHL.

I think if this is Kenny’s decision, the burden is squarely on Ozzie to produce.  Jim Nill has already referred to Joey MacDonald’s two-way contract as an “insurance policy”, and with ample salary cap flexibility, there’s no reason to believe that the team wouldn’t make a move before the deadline if Ozzie doesn’t show he can be a capable backup by that time.

Ozzie will be given his opportunity in October, November and December to prove he can be the backup the team needs.  We should all know by that time whether he is capable of being Jimmy Howard’s backup or not.  If not, there’s still plenty of time to solidify the position.  This strikes me as a reasonable, sound approach to the situation.  No need to panic.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 07/19/11 at 02:09 AM ET

perfection's avatar

Kahn is reporting that a “source” has confirmed Ozzie is actually RETIRING tomorrow… it was just posted 10 min ago, after midnight eastern time.

Kahn seems to be in disagreement with everyone else… but would he really post this right now if he didn’t actually have a credible source?

I would actually be ok with having Ozzie for one more year. He’s definitely fragile, but if Jimmy goes down in the middle of a Finals game, there’s really no other backup in the league more mentally fit to step in. And with all that said, I thought MacD was real good last year. He’s not a horrible option in the third slot.

but… it seems that nothing is for sure right now.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 07/19/11 at 02:30 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

No need to panic.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 07/19/11 at 12:09 AM ET

We’re not Alannah and ‘Nucks fans, after all.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/19/11 at 02:37 AM ET

Avatar

Kahn is reporting that a “source” has confirmed Ozzie is actually RETIRING tomorrow

...also saying Conklin will be signed this week. Strange business.

Posted by godblender on 07/19/11 at 05:07 AM ET

tkfergy's avatar

And as Jim Nill told me last week, the Wings re-signed Joey MacDonald to a 2-year contract because he was comfortable being an “insurance policy,” mentoring Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce in Grand Rapids and serving as the team’s #2B goaltender.

If MacDonald is in GR how can he mentor

both

McCollum and Pearce?

If we end up with Joey MacDonald as the backup, all is not lost as he is capable of doing that job quite efficiently.
Posted by DocF from Reidsville, NC on 07/18/11 at 10:27 PM ET

In the NHL he has won 22 and LOST 42… That does not sound efficient to me….

Posted by tkfergy on 07/19/11 at 05:25 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.