The Red Wings are committed to signing goaltender Jimmy Howard to a multi-year extension, reports MLive’s Ansar Khan. The veteran is in the final year of his contract which pays him $4.25MM with a cap hit of just under $5.3MM.
Howard has spent his entire career in the Detroit organization after they drafted him 64th overall back in 2003. In recent years, he has gone from being the full-time starter to more of a platoon option which is part of the reason they handed Jonathan Bernier a three-year deal last summer.
This season, Howard has the highest goals against average of his career at 2.93 but given the significant number of injuries they’ve had on their back end, the Red Wings have understandably struggled defensively so far this season. On the plus side, his .917 save percentage is his best since 2012-13.
Khan notes that a multi-year deal for Howard is likely. That’s notable as he turns 35 in March which means that his next deal will carry the 35-plus provision. While Detroit is clearly in a rebuilding phase, it doesn’t appear as if they’re willing to significantly take away from their roster and keeping Howard around should help them stay competitive during this stretch. It’s also a realization that none of their goaltending prospects are ready to make the jump to the NHL level over the next couple of years.
The free agent market for goaltenders is fairly deep this year with Howard being joined by the likes of Sergei Bobrovsky, Mike Smith, Cam Talbot, and Semyon Varlamov. That should play in Detroit’s favor as they can use the leverage of those other options to keep the AAV in check. With Pekka Rinne signing for two years and $10MM over the weekend, that would seemingly represent the high mark for Howard, especially with an above-average backup in Bernier already in the fold.
The interest in getting a deal done appears to be mutual so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a deal get done sooner rather than later to keep the long-time Red Wing around for at least a couple more seasons.