Jimmy Howard isn’t letting his playoff benching affect his future as a Red Wing.
At Friday’s locker clean-out, Howard informed reporters he wouldn’t demand a trade after losing his No. 1 gig to Petr Mrazek in Detroit’s opening-round playoff loss to Tampa. The 31-year-old also stated he looked forward to competing for the starting job with Mrazek next season.
Howard’s remarks put any sort of goalie controversy to bed for now.
For now, that is.
Why? Well, the American netminder carries a pretty hefty pricetag — a six-year, $31.8 million deal with a $5.3M average annual cap hit — and has four years left on the contract. He’s also eight years older than Mrazek, who’s widely considered to be the franchise’s goalie of the future… but the future might be now.
Mrazek played to rave reviews in the loss to Tampa Bay, finishing with a .925 save percentage, 2.11 GAA and two shutouts. Head coach Mike Babcock was full of praise, describing Mrazek as “a young guy with good athleticism and a good mind for the game,” adding, “he’s going to get better.”
Wings GM Ken Holland has already stated Mrazek will be with the Red Wings next season, even though he could be sent down to AHL Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers.
While Howard wouldn’t seem to be a very desirable trade target, a team in need of veteran goaltending depth — and one that might need to move an onerous contract of its own — could be in play, though those types of situations are far and few between.
As such, it sounds like Howard will be forced to earn back his No. 1 job when the Wings break camp this fall.
Stefan Matteau’s time with Team USA at the World Championships is over before it ever really got started.
Matteau has been sent home from the Czech Republic after suffering a broken index finger, per the Star-Ledger. The young Devils prospect joined the American club after spending most of the year with AHL Albany, appearing in seven games at the NHL level.
“(Matteau) does not need an operation, but he cannot play,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello explained. “We’ll have him checked out.”
Team USA is currently in the midst of its tournament opener against Finland. The Worlds were thought to be a good experience for the 21-year-old Matteau, as he’d be playing alongside a host of other promising young players, including a trio of collegians in Jack Eichel, Jimmy Vesey and Mike Reilly.
There was some Nashville-on-Nashville crime to open Team USA’s account at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, but Predators fans probably won’t mind.
That’s because their newest signee — KHL goalscoring phenom Steve Moses — opened the American account with a highlight-reel tally against Finland on Friday, scoring this pretty goal against his future teammate, Pekka Rinne:
Moses, 25, signed a one-year, $1M deal with the Preds in early April. The contract came after three years in the KHL with Jokerit, following a four-year career at New Hampshire (and a brief eight-game cameo with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate). Though undersized — 5-foot-9, 170 pounds — Moses is blessed with great skating ability and offensive instincts, which saw him score 70 times for Jokerit over the last three seasons.
“He skates like the wind,” Moses’ former UNH teammate, Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, told Sportsnet. “He’s really well built. He won’t get thrown around over here.”
The Winnipeg Jets got good news on one of their numerous injured players on Friday, as the club announced d-man Jacob Trouba underwent successful surgery on his broken right hand, and would be ready for training camp this fall.
Trouba, who broke his hand in Game 2 of the Ducks series, will be out the next 6-8 weeks while recovering.
The busted hand was a rough ending to an otherwise successful campaign for the 21-year-old sophomore. Trouba scored 22 points in 65 games while averaging over 23 minutes a night, helping the Jets advance to the postseason for the first time since moving from Atlanta.
As for the other ailing Jets, d-men Tobias Enstrom and Adam Pardy both underwent shoulder surgeries while Captain Andrew Ladd was playing with a sports hernia, Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien had dislocated ribs and Mathieu Perreault had an ankle sprain and tore ligaments in his right hand during the Ducks series.
There were a few eyebrows raised when Valtteri Filppula only played 3:47 over the final two periods of Wednesday’s Game 7 against Detroit — sitting out the entire final frame — but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman wouldn’t comment on a potential injury prior to Friday’s Game 1 against Montreal.
From the Tampa Bay Times:
Filppula played just 10 minutes, 24 seconds Wednesday; his last shift was late in the second period. When asked if Filppula was hurt, general manager Steve Yzerman said, “Nothing to report at this time.”
It’s hard to say why Filppula would’ve sat if there was no injury. He seemed to be performing well prior to the decrease in playing time, going 7-of-13 in faceoffs while receiving time both on the power play and penalty kill. That said, he had long stretches between shifts in the middle period and played a mere 130 seconds at even strength.
(It is possible Filppula was hurt on this hit from Pavel Datsyuk.)
The 31-year-old, who averaged over 19 minutes per game during the regular season, did have a bit of a tough time overall in the Detroit series — like several of his counterparts — and saw his ice time drop to 16:27 over the seven games, while finishing with a minus-5 rating.