It’s been a tough stretch for Howard, who hasn’t played in the NHL since December 20, 2016. He left that game midway after a pileup in his crease. Howard missed several weeks before returning. He appeared in two conditioning games with Grand Rapids, but was injured in the second game and has been out since. He’s eligible to spend two weeks with the Griffins.
Detroit could definitely use Howard back in their lineup. He leads the NHL with a 0.934 SV% and is second with a 1.96 GAA. It’s been a bounce-back year for Howard; this is the first time his numbers have been above league average since 2012-13. That season earned him his current contract, which pays him $5.29MM for two more seasons.
Howard subsequently lost the starters job to Petr Mrazek until this season. Mrazek has struggled with a 0.903 SV% and 2.95 GAA in 39 games. Third-stringer Jared Coreau hasn’t been great either, playing in 13 games with an 0.893 SV% and 3.27 GAA.
The playoffs are out of reach for the Red Wings, but Howard’s return to form could inspire the Vegas Golden Knights to select him in the expansion draft, clearing valuable cap space for the Red Wings to rebuild with. Despite his poor numbers this season, Mrazek is just 24-years-old compared to Howard, who’s 32. Detroit would likely prefer to keep Mrazek and hope he returns to his prior form.