The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/18/11 at 09:32 PM ET
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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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.