Jimmy Howard is getting paid like he’s the Detroit Red Wings’ starting goalie, but by no means is that role guaranteed for him.
There’s a solid chance that the Red Wings will enjoy good-to-great goaltending in 2015-16, yet there’s enough uncertainty surrounding the duo – will it be Howard, Petr Mrazek or a platoon scenario? – that the position stands as a question mark.
With about a $5.3 million cap hit that runs through 2018-19, the Red Wings likely hope that Howard can at least play well and often enough to drive up his trade value.
The 31-year-old boasts a respectable career save percentage of .916, yet the last two seasons have been marred by inconsistency and injuries. In both years, he played a bit more than 50 games, managed a so-so .910 save percentage and aroused some doubts along the way.
Meanwhile, it seemed like Mrazek jumped in line a bit, especially when he snared the No. 1 duty during Detroit’s tight first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 25-year-old put up great numbers in the regular season and postseason, prompting GM Ken Holland to declare open competition after players cleared out their lockers back in May:
“My message to those guys today was professional sports is about competition and the competition begins again in September,” Holland said, according to NHL.com.
“If you didn’t like the way the season ended, then get in the gym and do the work and be ready to be better next season. If you liked the way it finished, then get in the gym and make sure things keep going your way.”
Again, this situation could in fact be pretty lucrative for the Red Wings, as both goalies have shown flashes of brilliance. Still, it’s at least something to ponder as training camp approaches.