Jimmy Howard, Sergei Kostitsyn

Contract talks begin between Red Wings, Howard


The Detroit Red Wings and starting netminder Jimmy Howard have begun discussions about a new deal.

Just don’t expect Howard to focus on those talks.

“It’s the furthest thing I’m thinking about,” he told MLive.com. “You don’t have time to think about it.”

Howard, 29, admitted he focused too much on his contract status two years ago — he eventually signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal — to the point where it affected his on-ice performance.

Since then, Howard has become a constant presence between the pipes for Detroit, playing in 63 games during the 2010-11 season and 57 in 2011-12.

The 29-year-old has been an absolute workhorse this season, currently tied for second in the NHL in games played (12), fifth in shots faced (345) and fourth in minutes played (707:42).

All of this begs the question — what’s Howard’s market value?

For more, here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan:

[Howard] has a career record of 116-58-21, with 11 shutouts, a 2.44 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in the regular season.

That is similar to the St. Louis Blues’ Jaroslav Halak (112-67-21, 24 shutouts, 2.42 GAA, .918 save percentage) and Anaheim Ducks’ Jonas Hiller (121-93-15, 15 shutouts, 2.56 GAA, .917 save percentage).

Halak, 27, signed a four-year, $15 million contract ($3.75 million cap hit) in 2010. Hiller, 31, signed a four-year, $18 million contract ($4.5 million cap hit) in 2010.

Khan also notes that Detroit has additional business to attend to this offseason besides Howard — Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner will both be UFAs as well, as are Dan Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White.

Report: Sean Avery was arrested last week

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From the Southampton Press:

Sean Avery, the former National Hockey League player, was arrested by Southampton Village Police last week on two criminal charges.

According to authorities, Mr. Avery was arrested September 30 following a routine traffic stop on Jennings Avenue in the village at about 4:09 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.

Police said the criminal mischief charge involved an incident the day before, when Mr. Avery allegedly threw objects at passing vehicles.

As for those counts of possession, according to the newspaper, Avery was found to have “two prescription drugs, acetaminophen with oxycodone and roxicodone.”

He was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in court at a later date.

Did we mention he’s supposed to get married this weekend?

H/t Gawker

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.