Detroit Red Wings Strengthen Goalie Position With Thomas Greiss

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

It’s not likely that the Detroit Red Wings are in the thick of the playoff race this season, whenever it does begin. That didn’t stop them from being active the first couple of days of free agency when the signing period opened up on Friday.

General Manager Steve Yzerman signed multi players to NHL level contracts, including forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan, as well as Jon Merrill on the blue line.

Maybe the biggest name they added so far as been goaltender, and former New York Islander, Thomas Greiss.

The German-born netminder has spent the last five seasons with the Islanders after starting his career with the San Jose Sharks with stops in Phoenix and Pittsburgh in between.

Greiss joins Jonathan Bernier in net in Detroit, and it actually creates an average goaltending duo for the upcoming season.

It certainly presents an upgrade to Jimmy Howard, who after playing his entire career with he Red Wings, was not resigned this offseason, instead opting for a two-year agreement with Greiss.

Howard’s play had been in a steady decline over the years, and now that he was a free agent, it became time for a change.

Just how much better did the Red Wings goaltender situation get by adding Greiss? Did it actually get better? Let’s take a look at how each goalie has fared over the previous three seasons and find out.

Thomas Greiss

Jonathan Bernier

Jimmy Howard

5v5 SV% (Percentile Rank)

.923% (61.5%)

.922% (53.8%)

.918% (25%)


0.10 (63.5%)

0.05 (53.8%)

-0.07 (26.9%)


.829% (48.1%)

.828% (48.1%)

.812% (13.5%)


0.01 (50.0%)

0.01 (50.0%)

-0.12 (13.5%)

*All number from Natural Stat Trick. Rankings and percentiles based off of all goalies with at least 3,000 minutes at 5v5 over the past three seasons. All metrics are adjusted for score and venue.

It’s almost like looking into a mirror when looking at Greiss and Bernier, who posted near identical numbers across the board. The difference has come in that Greiss has played for the mostly better Islanders over that span.

Especially the past two seasons with the defensive minded Barry Trotz at the helm.

It will be different in Detroit, as the Red Wings allowed the most goals last season, as well as surrendered the fifth most shots on net last season (the Islanders finished 15th).

Even with that, Greiss certainly upgrades the goaltending position. Both Greiss and Bernier had their opportunities to be the go-to starter in previous stops in their career, but have seen more success in a goaltending tandem.

Greiss started 51 games in 2016-2017 with the Islanders, while the former first round pick Bernier recorded back-to-back 50+ game seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Howard won a lot of games for the Red Wings. Maybe not as many as they hoped, but it certainly going to be a different crease without him in it.

After a 2-23-2 record, however, it was time for a change. 

For all that it was worth, Bernier won 15 of his 46 games he appeared in. And if the Red Wings just acquired a player who has posted almost identical metrics as Greiss, that could lead to an almost 10 win improvement in year two under Yzerman.

What do you think about the Red Wings adding Greiss to the goaltending mix? How much does he improve the Red Wings? How many wins does he get in the upcoming season? Let us know in the comment section below and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.


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