Red Wings Sign Thomas Greiss to 2-Year Deal

Veteran goaltender Thomas Greiss has signed a two-year contract worth $7.2 million ($3.6 million cap hit) with the Detroit Red Wings.

With 282 regular-season games of experience, the 34-year-old Greiss has been a backup or 1B option in net for most of his career. He broke into the league with the San Jose Sharks during the 2007-08 season and played 44 games with them across four seasons. From there, he made stops with the Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins before spending the last five seasons with the New York Islanders.

During his time with the Islanders, Greiss shared the crease with Jaroslav Halak, Robin Lehner, and, most recently, Semyon Varlamov. Following the 2018-19 season, he and Lehner shared the Jennings Trophy after allowing the fewest goals in the NHL. Despite an overall successful run with the Islanders, he was pushed out by the presence of Varlamov and newcomer Ilya Sorokin – the latter of which is poised to make his NHL debut next season.

With 137 victories, Greiss has the second-most wins among German-born goaltenders in NHL history. He has represented Germany in the Olympics twice in his career. He gained international fame when he posted a 35-save effort against Team Canada during the 2006 games in Turin, Italy.

Fit With the Red Wings

With Jonathan Bernier already under contract, the Red Wings needed to acquire another goalie to either back-up or split time with him. They fulfilled that need with this signing. Greiss has routinely shown the ability to step in and provide a calming effect when things look like they’re getting out of hand.

Thomas Greiss New York Islanders
Thomas Greiss, former New York Islander (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The move also means that the Red Wings have just $6.6 million in cap space tied up in their goaltenders. While they are not hurting for cap space these days, this move means that they should get at least league-average goaltending while not being bogged down by overloaded contracts. This move gives them options in net, and flexibility to address needs elsewhere.

Finally, with the Seattle Expansion Draft under a year away, this move ensures that the Red Wings will have a goalie to expose. Bernier is on the last year of his contract and could very well be moved at the 2021 trade deadline. Signing Greiss not only makes sure they have an NHL-caliber goalie in the event of a Bernier trade, but it helps them meet the expansion draft requirements – a trend that can be observed throughout the league during this free agency period.

How Will He Do?

Greiss leaves an Islanders team that made it to the Eastern Conference Final and now joins the team that sat at the bottom of the league standings for most of the 2019-20 season. There’s a sharp quality decline in the team in front of him, so regression on Greiss’ part is to be expected.

The Red Wings gave up a whopping 3.73 goals-against this past season, highlighting the drastic decline in the defense Greiss will play behind. Emphasizing this point is the fact that he will turn 35 years old in January. His game could very well suffer the consequences of aging.

But Greiss has played in unfavorable situations before and made the best of them. His next challenge, however, may be his biggest one yet.