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.