The Detroit Red Wings today announced the recall of Jimmy Howard from his latest conditioning stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Howard had been sent down on March 4th and played two games for the AHL squad, allowing just two goals on 54 shots including a shutout of the San Antonio Rampage last night. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that Jared Coreau, up in Howard’s absence will return to the AHL on Thursday or Friday.
Howard hasn’t played in an NHL contest since December 20th thanks to several setbacks during his rehab of a lower-body injury. Before the injury, the 32-year old netminder was off to the best start of his career, carrying a .934 save percentage through his first 17 games of the season. Despite seemingly losing the number one job to Petr Mrazek last season, Howard looked re-energized and ready to prove he could still be a starter in the NHL. Now he’ll have another handful of games to prove it again.
The goaltender’s $5.29MM cap-hit is a tough price to pay for the Red Wings as they turn to Mrazek in the crease, meaning Howard will likely be available again this summer. Whether any team wants to take on that much is still unknown, though once the season is over the Red Wings could retain part of his salary going forward. Despite being last in the Eastern conference, Detroit is actually in quite a tight cap situation as they head into next season. With Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou both needing substantial raises, they will have almost no room to add anything to help the squad.
While the cap is set to go up slightly for next season, Detroit is a long way from being a contender with their current roster and will likely have to re-think how they’ve built their forward group. While they sold off any expiring assets at the deadline this year, it wasn’t really enough to hit a full reset button. Showcasing Howard for a possible trade in the offseason would be a big part of starting their rebuild.