The Detroit Red Wings may never have officially declared their intention to enter a rebuilding process with their current roster but given the organizations overall lack of success the past few seasons, especially when you consider the expectations recent history has set in the minds of fans in Detroit, you just know that there will be major changes coming to the roster in the coming years.
One of the biggest questions facing the Red Wings in the short term has been the future of their goaltending. The question is not to their their goaltending being a particular point of weakness for the organization but due to the current contract status of veteran goaltender Jimmy Howard. Howard has been a part of the Red Wings goaltending situation for 13 years now and has been it's primary fixture for at least the last decade but his current contract is set to run out at the end of this season and make him an unrestricted free agent.
The common line of thinking was to suggest that Howard would almost assuredly be traded prior to the NHL trade deadline to a team in need of some security in goal, but Howard's consistent play may have pulled that option off the table. Red Wings insider Ansar Khan shut down the trade speculation with a rather blunt statement regarding the Red Wings' current goaltending situation.
None of the Red Wings' goaltending prospects (Filip Larsson, Keith Petruzzelli, Joren van Pottelberghe) will be NHL-ready in at least the next several seasons. Howard is better than what they have in Grand Rapids (Harri Sateri, Patrik Rybar). And the Red Wings see no point in searching for a better alternative in July's thin free-agent market.
The free agent market may be thin in July but it is also likely expected to contain some significant names, at least as things currently stand. Star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky appears to be destined for a split with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov is also set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Even after those two big names we still have goaltenders like Mike Smith, and Cam Talbot that are on expiring contracts at the end of the season.
In spite of all those options, some of which are obviously enticing, it looks like the Red Wings are going to settle on Jimmy Howard, who will turn 35 in ?March, as their goaltender of the future. While Howard has been strong for the Wings the fact that general manager Ken Holland will be giving out yet another contract to an aging Red Wings player can't sit well with concerned Red Wings' fans who have seen those contracts from Holland bite the team in the rear as of late.