Matthew Wuest of Red Wings Central has an update on goaltending prospect Daniel Larsson.
Wuest notes that Larsson has had a strong North American start, an observation that jives with what I hear Â from my wife, a Griffins season ticket holder. Larsson has outplayed Jimmy Howard by a fair margin most of the season and may have the Wings rethinking their future goaltending plans.
Howard has picked up his play lately, but if he doesn’t finish the AHL season on a very strong streak, he may be out as the future Detroit netminder. With Thomas McCollum coming up in the system and Larsson already performing like a top-5 AHL goaltender, Howard’s relatively slow development may come back to bite him.
I saw Jimmy play New Year’s Eve, when he posted a shutout against a relatively anaenmic Iowa Chops team. He looked pretty solid, but I’m still not wholly convinced he’s NHL ready or able to be so by next season. His recent strong play has seemingly been brought on by the competition Larsson has provided and I find Â it a little disturbing that it’s taken an upstart backup to motivate the man.
I’d mark it down to Quincey-esque disappointment at being in the AHL once again, but this has been a continuing theme with Howard since he left college. He has yet to reach the required dominance in the minors after two full seasons and over half of a third. Any disapointment over being the third man in the systerm should provide motivation, not send him to a spiral of average goaltending.Â
Larsson has looked like a capable goalie in just his first season outside Sweden, something all the more impressive when you consider the difference between North American rinks and European. That demonstrates a definite level of mental toughness, and from where I sit, it’s difficult not to give Larsson the advantage over Howard in that particular category right now.