DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings reportedly are very active ahead of the NHL's free agency period, which begins July 1.
Tuesday marked the start of the league's “interview” period, and the Red Wings apparently have been talking a lot.
First, let's start with The Athletic Craig Custance's report that goalie Robin Lehner, of the Buffalo Sabres, visited Little Caesars Arena. Lehner, 26, was under a 1-year contract with Buffalo. He posted a .908 save percentage over 53 last season.
Lehner would come in to help Jimmy Howard. He would be backing up Howard, but also would be fit to step into a starting role. It's sort of unclear what his ceiling is. He's been playing on a struggling Buffalo team and before that as a backup for the Ottawa Senators. He could come "cheap" and prove to have much higher value.
There are a few other goalie names being thrown out there right now as possible Red Wings targets including Carter Hutton. Hutton has played two seasons as a backup with the St. Louis Blues. Before that he was with Nashville.
At 32, he's never found a real starting job. He'd be brought to Detroit to backup Howard, but he may not have as much potential to take over the starting job as someone like Lehner would.
The bottom line is the Red Wings need a goalie. They're prospects either aren't NHL-caliber or aren't NHL-ready. Howard won't be able to play more than 60 games.
Custance is a busy guy, as he's also reporting the Red Wings "have interest" in bringing back veteran center Valtteri Filppula.
Just filed to @TheAthleticDET: Robin Lehner visits Detroit as Red Wings search for a goalie heats up. Plus other news on the free agency front: https://t.co/aZOOhHxdCo — Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 26, 2018
Filppula left Detroit at the end of the 2012-13 season and signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning sent him to Philadelphia in 2017, and that's where he has been a second- and first-line center the past two seasons.
At 34, Filppula is still considered a solid two-way center who wins faceoffs and tracks other teams' top players. He's comparable to Frans Nielsen, who the Red Wings picked up a few years after Filppula left. He's not going to bring a ton of goals, but he'll play a polished 200-foot game.
The Red Wings would be brining in more veteran depth down the middle if they chose to welcome back Filppula.
The rumors will continue to swirl as the NHL offseason is just getting started.
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