The Detroit Red Wings have signed veteran goaltender Jimmy Howard to a one-year extension. John Shannon of Sportsnet reports the deal will be for $4MM, and CapFriendly adds that he can earn up to $1.1MM in additional performance bonuses. Howard is eligible for performance bonuses as a 35+ player (as of the 26th) that is signing just a one-year deal. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, the goaltender has been open about his willingness to keep signing one-year deals as long as they keep him in Detroit. The deal will include zero trade protection.
Howard, who will turn 35 next week, has posted a .908 save percentage this season through 48 games and remains a solid option in net for the Red Wings. In fact, he outplayed Jonathan Bernier this season and could very well enter next year still ready to make the majority of the starts. While he was a potential trade candidate at the deadline, both sides had expressed a desire to keep him in Detroit all season and with a one-year deal there is little risk for the Red Wings. The team can ride him until he’s no longer effective, and Howard can retire having only ever played for a single organization.
Selected in the second round back in 2003, Howard starred at the University of Maine—recording an incredible .956 save percentage in his sophomore season—before jumping into professional hockey with both feet. After a few seasons as the starter for the Grand Rapids Griffins, he took over as the full-time NHL starter in 2009 and never looked back. Though he has dealt with injury, Howard never posted a save percentage under .906 during his decade as the starter for Detroit and twice received votes as a Vezina candidate. He has an all-time record of 240-171-68 in 509 regular season starts with the team.
The Wings are finally climbing out of the salary cap troubles they put themselves in over the past few years, and signing Howard to a one-year deal will only give them even more flexibility going forward. Bernier carries just a $3MM cap hit for the next two seasons, meaning the combined tandem is still not prohibitively expensive.