The Detroit Red Wings signed their 35-year-old netminder Jimmy Howard to a one-year contract extension for $4.25 million on Wednesday. This came on the heels of a stellar performance by the Syracuse, New York native against his boyhood favorite team, the New York Rangers. Howard made 41 saves in the Red Wings’ 3-2 victory. The Rangers fifth loss in a row.
A majority of the games Howard has played he has kept the Red Wings within striking distance of the lead or in the lead. The lack of defensive talent on the roster has something to do with results. Not Howard. If the younger players on the roster or in Grand Rapids can improve during the latter part of this season or during the offseason, whether it be Dennis Cholowski or Joe Hicketts, the results could look different next season.
Howard was the lone all-star selection for the Detroit Red Wings this season and played in the 500th game of his NHL career. He ranks third in franchise history with 240 wins and fourth in franchise history with 24 shutouts.
Howard said after the game that he doesn’t know how to explain why he plays so well at Madison Square Garden. “I just enjoy playing here.” The netminder has a 10-3-3 record during his career against the Rangers. Howard even wears the number 35 as a tribute to his favorite player growing up, Mike Richter.
The extension comes after a trade deadline where there was speculation that he would be traded to a number of teams. A trade never came to fruition. Holding onto Howard was deemed necessary because they do not have a goaltender that is NHL ready. The closest to being so is Keith Petruzelli, who is only 19 years old.
Backup Jonathan Bernier is signed through the 2020-21 season. At 30 years old, Bernier was brought into Detroit to push Jimmy Howard. The tandem should have the goaltending position for the short-term until names like Petruzelli can improve their game.
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The contract extension comes just six days before Howard’s 35th birthday. Ken Holland, the general manager for the Red Wings, says that he hopes to pay every penny of the $1.1 million in playoff bonuses should the team make the playoffs next season. This would be an improvement given that the team will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
This can only happen if the team continues to improve and the franchise gets a bit of luck in the upcoming draft. A draft in which they have among the best odds to pick number one overall. The top pick in this years’ draft is expected to be Jack Hughes, a 17-year-old center for the USNTDP (United States National Team Development Program).
If Howard were exposed to truth serum, Howard might tell you that he is secretly hoping the lottery balls bounce the Red Wings way on April 28th.