How to deal with the departure of Pavel Datsyuk isn’t the only challenge facing Red Wings GM Ken Holland.
There’s also the matter of Jimmy Howard, the team’s 32-year-old goalie with the $5.3 million cap hit for three more years.
Howard, the former number one, went 14-14-5 with a .906 save percentage in 2015-16. For much of the season he was outplayed by young Petr Mrazek, leading many to believe the Wings would try and move the veteran’s contract this summer. Holland admitted recently that he’d “thought about it lots.”
But not so fast.
“Petr Mrazek played about 50 games this year, (and) the wheels came off a little bit in the middle of February,” Holland told The Fan 590 today (audio). “Jimmy Howard really came in and I thought saved our season when our season was on the line. You’ve got to have two goaltenders. … There’s a small group of goaltenders, they’re workhorses, that can play 70 games.”
And according to Holland, Mrazek has yet to prove he can be one of those workhorses.
“It could possibly be detrimental if we put Petr in a situation where we’re just going to throw him out and play 70 games and no matter how you play, we’re going to keep putting you out,” said Holland.
Hence, the argument to keep Howard.
Or, at least, that’s the spin.
The reality may be that Howard’s contract is just too tough to move. Even if the Wings were able to trade him, they’d probably have to eat some of his salary. And who’s to say his replacement would be any better? It’s not like there’s a sure thing in free agency.
Mrazek, by the way, still has to sign a contract. He’s a pending restricted free agent.
“I’ve got to sit and negotiate a deal with Petr Mrazek and his agent,” said Holland. “As we go along here over the next week or 10 days, we’ll see where we go with our goaltending.”