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Red Wings re-sign Howard to 2-year, $4.5 million extension?  Wow!

Latest update at 2:18 PM: Per Paul, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika and others, the Red Wings have signed their biggest unrestricted free agent-to-be, Jimmy Howard, to a ridiculous bargain of a 2-year contract extension.

Howard will supposedly earn $2.25 million per season for the next two years, which is quite the master stroke by Wings GM Ken Holland as Howard leads the NHL in wins this season and has posted 67 wins over the past two seasons. I’ll update this post with the MSM’s reports on this as soon as they roll in.

Update 12:27 PM: Sportsnet and ESPN confirm, as do Ansar Khan from MLive and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness. TSN’s confirmed the news, too.

Update 12:32 PM: Ken Holland confirms to the Free Press’s Helene St. James (and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms, too):

“He’s won almost 70 games for us in two years,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He was runner-up as rookie of the year last year. We’re very pleased to be keeping him in a Red Wings uniform.”

Update 12:35 PM: Holland to Khan:

The Detroit Red Wings have signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a two-year contract extension worth $4.5 million.

“We’re pleased to get him signed,’’ general manager Ken Holland said. “His prime years are ahead of him. He had a great rookie year. He’s got 30 wins this year.’‘

Update 12:39 PM: Per Bob Duff:

More Holland on Howard: “He had a great rookie year. He’s got 30 wins this year.’‘

Update 12:42 PM: Yahoo Sports confirms as well.

Update 12:43 PM: Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson confirms from Howard:

#RedWings Jimmy Howard told me he’s “very happy” with new deal & will likely have to buy a team dinner, or “whatever else Draper dreams up!”

Update 12:46 PM: More from Holland via Khan:

“I like that he’s a workhorse. He’s a guy we can put in net night after night,’’ Holland said. “I like that he’s 27, coming into his prime. We drafted him, we developed him, we watched him grow as a goaltender.’‘

Holland said the timing of the deal, just before today’s NHL trade deadline, was just a coincidence. He said he was was prepared to wait until after the playoffs to get a deal done but he’s glad they’re not running the risk of having Howard distracted by his contract situation the rest of the season and in the playoffs.

“It’s out of the way, put to bed, no potential for distractions,’’ Holland said.
...
“Both sides feel good about it,’’ Holland said. “We’re hoping Jimmy will continue to grow and we’ll do a deal bigger than this one (next time).’‘

Update 12:53 PM: NHL.com confirms.

Per the Sporting News’s Craig Custance:

Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard has signed a two-year contract extension worth a total of $4.5 million, a team source confirmed with Sporting News. Howard would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer and it’s a completely reasonable salary cap hit for a young goalie who has given plenty of indication he’s capable of leading the Red Wings on an extended playoff run. In another show of confidence in Howard, the Red Wings passed on Ty Conklin who was available on waivers.

Update 12:55 PM: More from Duff:

Howard #s confirmed - 2 yrs, $2.25 mill/yr. Holland: “I like that he’s a workhorse, a guy we can put in net night after night.”
...
Holland said it was just a fluke that Howard pact came down on #nhl trade deadline day. Been working on it hard since December.
...
Holland on Howard: “I like that he’s 27, coming into his prime. We drafted him, we developed him, we watched him grow as a goaltender.’‘

Update 1:06 PM: USA Today’s Kevin Allen weighs in:

The Detroit Red Wings’ signing of a two-year contract extension with No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard for $2.25 million a season is an important move for a franchise that already has several star players with lucrative deals.

Howard could have been an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Red Wings might have turned elsewhere had Howard demanded too much money.

Update 1:10 PM: Here’s Chuck Pleiness’s report:

“We’re pleased to get him signed,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “His prime years are ahead of him. He had a great rookie year. He’s got 30 wins this year. In less than two years he’s been in net for 70 Red Wings wins.”

“I like that he’s a workhorse,” Holland said. “He’s a guy we can put in net night after night. We drafted him, we developed him, we watched him grow as a goaltender.

“Both sides feel good about it,” Holland added. “We’re hoping Jimmy will continue to grow and we’ll do a deal bigger than this one (next time).”
...
Holland said they’re not close to signing anyone else. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is the other notable unrestricted free agent.

“I’m open to talks,” Holland said. “It’s a cap world, it’s all about numbers for both sides. We’ve got some other potential unrestricted free agents who’ve done a nice job. I’m comfortable waiting until the end of the playoffs.”

Update 1:26 PM: More from St. James:

“He was a big part of us making the playoffs last year, his rookie year,” Holland said. “He’s a young goalie, and we feel he’ll continue to grow.”

The announcement comes on the same day as the NHL’s trade deadline, which hits at 3 p.m. Holland has had conversations with a few general managers, but the Wings have only $570,000 in salary-cap room, so any move would have to be dollar in, dollar out. They’d like to add an inexpensive veteran defenseman—but that’s the same thing nearly every other team is looking for today.

“If we don’t do anything, I like our team,” Holland said. At 38-18-6, the Wings are third overall in the NHL and second in the Western Conference.

Update 1:30 PM: Take this quip from Sportsnet’s Chris Nichols at face value:

The best part of owning a Detroit goalie in salary cap pools is the great stats per dollar ratio. Two more years of Howard at $2.2M per.

Expanded: I’m still particularly interested to see if Daniel Larsson, who has 2.51/ .918 splits in the Swedish Elite League so far, might return to North America next season to back up Howard while Thomas McCollum continues to develop in the AHL.

Update 2:07 PM,: The AP’s Larry Lage says that the Wings’ organization is finally confirming the deal.

Update 2:10 PM: Finally ,per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

Monday, the team announced that goaltender Jimmy Howard has received a two-year contract extension. According to general manager Ken Holland, the new deal is worth $2.25 million per season. Howard, who leads the NHL in wins this season with a 30-12-3 record, would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“He’s a workhorse,” said Holland in a phone interview from Los Angeles where the Wings are set to play the Kings tonight at Staples Center.
...
“He had a tremendous year last year,” Holland said. “He’s really just coming into his prime. We’ve developed him and watched him grow since he was 19-years-old, and we like him, and that he has the ability to grow even more as a goaltender.”
...
“I think he had a great season going this year until the middle of December, until the wheels started to fall off with all of the injuries,” he said. “We haven’t played as well defensively, and I think Jimmy’s stats reflect that. But he’s a guy who wins games.”
...
“Last thing we wanted to do with a young goaltender was to negotiate right up until playoff time,” he said. “Yesterday we finalized this and now there are no distractions, and for us it’s good for planning. We have a guy in goal going into the ’11-12 season. We know what we’ve got. We like what we’ve got. And it’s a workable cap number for us, because we want to keep our pieces together.”

Regarding the Wings’ veteran UFAs-to-be (Osgood, Draper, Modano, Eaves, Miller, Ericsson, Salei)...

“In the case of some of the older guys I’m not really going to worry about until the end of the season,” Holland said. “In a lot of case, the first choice – by a country mile – is to stay in Detroit.

As for any deadline moves…

“I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll do something, for a number of reasons,” Holland said. “First off, the team has played at a high level. We have the third-most points in the league and the first or second best road record in the league. We’re starting to get people healthy, but we made a plan last summer that we were going to spend much of our cap space and hope that the team would play at a high level and that we wouldn’t have to be active at the trade deadline.”

Update 2:18 PM: Here’s what Holland had to say to the AP’s Larry Lage:

“We drafted him, developed him and have watched him become an NHL goalie that was good enough to be the runner-up for rookie of the year last season,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s a workhorse who you can put in net night after night. He’ll win over 70 games in two years for us and at the age of 27, we think he’s coming into his prime.”

Howard leads the NHL in victories, entering Monday night’s game on the road against the Los Angeles Kings with a 30-12-3 record. He was 37-15-10 last season in his first year as Detroit’s No. 1 goalie. Howard is giving up 2.79 goals a game and his save percentage is .908 after having a 2.26 GAA last season and a .924 save percentage. Detroit drafted him in the second round of the 2003 NHL draft after he starred for three seasons at Maine and gave him time to develop with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. The native of Ogdensburg, N.Y., was eligible to possible cash in on his success on the open market in July, but chose to stay in Detroit.

“We talked in December and after going back and forth, we decided we’d get a deal done now or wait until the summer to talk again,” Holland said.

The Red Wings didn’t plan to acquire a player from another team before Monday’s trade deadline.

“We like our team,” Holland said. “We made the conscious decision last summer to spend almost all of our cap space and I think that has helped us win some games because we had the depth in place to help us compete even when we had some injuries. If we’re playing our best hockey at the right time, I like our chances.”

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Comments

Leo_Racicot's avatar

George, I’m not sure how this is a “master stroke” move considering the goaltending market over the past two years.  Why do you believe this?

The Stanley Cup winning goalie was awarded this future via arbitration, if anything, I’d argue that the Wings paid slightly too much on this contract given that the guy has won one playoff series in his career.

That said, they needed to make a decision with their goaltending situation with Osgood’s career coming to an end over the next few seasons and they did it.  I suppose if I were a Wings fan I’d have wished that the contract was at 2m even but really, we’re talking peanuts in terms of difference.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 02/28/11 at 02:24 PM ET

TheRealYooper's avatar

2.25mil?!!  i want to say what a bargain, but i hate feeling good about all things concerning the wings, especially goalies, as when i do, that is when things start to go wrong. so color me jaded. or green with envy for what k.h. is able to do. bringing stanley back to hockeytown would go a long way to making me feel a whole lot better.

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 02/28/11 at 02:24 PM ET

Cliff's avatar

I’m shocked we got him that low.  Ken Holland did it again.

Posted by Cliff on 02/28/11 at 02:25 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Nice. That makes 15 players signed, roughly $12M to play with in the off season assuming no cap climb. Half of that goes to Lidstrom(we hope). Still need a backup goalie, two 3rd pair d-men, and 4 bottom fwds -at least 2 of which will be sub-million Mursak/Emmerton/Flip the Elder. I’d say that’s manageable.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 02/28/11 at 02:25 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Posted by Cliff on 02/28/11 at 12:25 PM ET

I’m still not following this logic. 

Why do people think that goalies are commanding massive figures on the open market given what has gone on the past few off-seasons?

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 02/28/11 at 02:28 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Because there are no “second contracts” in the NHL anymore. This is very reasonable in the pre-2007 NHL for a goaltender who has yet to establish himself as truly elite, but based upon the market that’s been established by forwards, defensemen and goalies earning $3.5-5 million, depending on the player, for their second contracts, this deal is ridiculous.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/28/11 at 02:36 PM ET

Cliff's avatar

Leo - two questions for you:

What do you think Jimmy have been offered on July 1?

What would the Wings do in goal next year if not Howard?

Cary Price is at $2.5, Halak at $2.75, Hiller and Bryzgalov at $4.5.  How many teams don’t have their goaltending set for next year, and would offer Jimmy a ridiculous contract on the open market.  You couldn’t let him get to July 1.  Would it shock anyone if Steve Yzerman offered Jimmy $3.25M for three years?  Or a slightly desperate Toronto or Colorado or Florida or Ottawa offered Jimmy $3.75M for 4 years?  We’ve seen goofy money thrown out for Khabibulin, Huet, Leclaire…

The Wings aren’t going to spend a ton on goal; Jimmy’s contract would place him as the 24th most expensive goalie contract today according to capgeek.  I’m not sure what better option there could be?

Posted by Cliff on 02/28/11 at 02:42 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 02/28/11 at 12:25 PM ET

Capgeek is a beautiful thing. Let’s take a look at how the roster might look, assuming the cap goes to $62 million (the number I’ve usually heard reported), Lidstrom resigns at his current salary, and some reasonable numbers get plugged in for generic roster fillers beyond the players currently signed.

FORWARDS
Jiri Hudler ($2.875m) / Pavel Datsyuk ($6.700m) / Daniel Cleary ($2.800m)
Todd Bertuzzi ($1.937m) / Henrik Zetterberg ($6.083m) / Johan Franzen ($3.954m)
Tomas Holmstrom ($1.875m) / Valtteri Filppula ($3.000m) / Third Line Forward ($1.250m)
Justin Abdelkader ($0.787m) / Darren Helm ($0.912m) / Jan Mursak ($0.550m)
Depth Forward ($0.850m) / Depth Forward ($0.850m)

DEFENSEMEN
Nicklas Lidstrom ($6.200m) / Brad Stuart ($3.750m)
Niklas Kronwall ($3.000m) / Brian Rafalski ($6.000m)
Jakub Kindl ($0.883m) / Third Pairing Defenseman ($1.250m)
Depth Defenseman ($1.000m)

GOALTENDERS
Jimmy Howard ($2.250m) / Backup Goalie ($1.000m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $62,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $59,758,711; BONUSES: $0
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $2,241,289

Assuming we can fill three bottom-six/depth forward spots (some combination of Eaves, Draper, Miller, Emmerton, or players signed via free agency) for a total of $2,950,000, two last-pairing defenseman (some combination of Salei, Ericsson, Meech, or a free agent) for a total of $2,250,000, and a backup goalie (Osgood or otherwise) for $1 million, we’d STILL have almost $2.5 million to play with, which means we could

A) Easily accommodate a higher salary for Eaves, if necessary; OR

B) Spend a little extra money on acquiring another top-four defender or top-six defender (we could even potentially add another all-star if we considered moving a guy like Hudler or Kronwall); OR

C) Have a nice cushion to acquire an impact player at the deadline.

Well played, Mr. Holland. Well played.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/28/11 at 02:46 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The biggest positive is that this deal is very worthy given the a) market b) lack of quality goaltenders on the UFA market this summer and c) Wings’ cap situation.

This works very, very well for everyone involved. It’s not too long for the Wings to be married to Howard should he not work out, either.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/28/11 at 02:48 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Posted by Cliff on 02/28/11 at 12:42 PM ET

Totally agree with your points.  I’m not intending to create a mountain out of a molehill with this item as I really think his worth falls somewhere around 2m based on the past season or so, peanuts compared to the 2.25 that he ended up with.

My big question is why a few Wings folks are already quick to praise this as a brilliant bargain move.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/28/11 at 12:36 PM ET

Thanks for the enlightening point on second contracts, I’ve got some lunch homework/research to do. I still wonder if the current market for goaltenders justifies this one as being a bargain.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 02/28/11 at 02:51 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I think the market at least justifies this for being *sane,& ad at this time of year, sanity does not reign.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/28/11 at 02:55 PM ET

Avatar

My big question is why a few Wings folks are already quick to praise this as a brilliant bargain move.

Because he’s already a Calder finalist who could very well end up winning 80 games over the course of two seasons.  He’s got more wins this season than anyone else and he’s making $700-something thousand.

Howard probably isn’t worth $4M+, but what makes the move great is that Holland doesn’t have to worry about whether Howard will walk or what tyupe of offer he would have to match/exceed in order to keep Hoard and it shows faith in Howard, so he doesn’t have to go into the playoffs wondering if he’ll be around next year.

Would Howard receive an offer of $4M+ on the open market?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe he would be offered $3.75M.  Or $3M.  Or only $2.5M.  Would those be insane numbers?  Maybe, maybe not, but ALL of those numbers are more than he signed for, so Holland doesn’t have to worry about it.  Jimmy’s played well enough the last two years and won enough games that if he hit the market, no team would think that they’d get him for less than what Holland signed him for.

Also, look at Detroit’s reputation.  They let Lebda go and is there any possible reason besides “he played for Detroit, and Detroit is good at picking talent” for him to be offered as much as he got from Toronto?  Or what about Kopecky?  And Howard is actually GOOD.

Posted by Garth on 02/28/11 at 03:16 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 02/28/11 at 12:51 PM ET

I think the big thing is that your view of it involves making assumptions about how the arbiter came to the Niemi decision.

Niemi was awarded his contract based on only 37 career regular season starts. Last year, Howard started 61 regular season games alone, and is on pace to at least equal that number. Consider how bad Niemi was in October and November. That’s what happens when you give a guy X dollars based on a total of 59 meaningful starts.

I’m not necessarily saying Howard is a better goalie. What I’m saying is that the potential UFA market he’d have gone into would’ve known more about his ability than the arbiter knew about Niemi. So if Niemi got that money based on a pretty small sample size, I feel good about signing Howard for essentially the same money given that we’ve seen him perform equal—and arguably a bit better—than Niemi.

Niemi’s Career Reg. Season Numbers: 2.38/0.914
Howard’s Career Reg. Season Numbers: 2.50/0.916

Niemi’s Career Playoff Numbers: 2.63/0.910
Howard’s Career Playoff Numbers: 2.75/0.915

So… to sum it up… similar critical numbers to Niemi, but at the point of FA, with double the number of starts. That’s why this is a good deal. If you prove you can play at a certain level over a longer period of time, it’s likely you’re a better goalie. See—Jim Carey.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 02/28/11 at 03:21 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 02/28/11 at 01:21 PM ET

Not to mention that Niemi was an RFA while Howard would have been a UFA, and you can’t really use what an RFA is awarded via arbitration to say what a UFA would be offered on July 1st by a team with no starting goalie or a team looking to make a big splash on free agent day.
Beyond that, Niemi’s arbitration was at the end of July, making him a UFA around the 1st of August, a full month after free agency started.  Who can to say what he might’ve been offered if he was availabe for nothing on July 1st.  On July1st he would’ve been a hot commodity, a young goalie who just won a Stanley Cup in his first year.  At the end of July he was a goalie who, it was decided by the Stanley Cup-winning team, wasn’t a major reason behind the Stanely Cup, and he was entering free agency at a time when when “frenzy” had died down.  By that time teams had already earmarked a lot of their money and were getting closer to the cap, meaning that they weren’t going to be offerering big money to ANY goalie, much less one who was cast off by his team.

Posted by Garth on 02/28/11 at 03:33 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Not bad.  I like it.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 02/28/11 at 03:51 PM ET

Avatar

I like it. I like it a lot. Congrats Jimbo. Bravo Kenny.

Posted by godblender on 02/28/11 at 04:19 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Seems like a good deal for both sides.

According to NHL.numbers.com, DET have the following un-signed next season (‘10-‘11 salary):

Draper (1.25)
Modano (1.25)
Eaves (.750)
Miller (.650)

Lidstrom (6.20)
Salei (.750)
Big E (1.25)

Osgood (1.10)

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 02/28/11 at 04:21 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Good enough for me.

Posted by calquake on 02/28/11 at 06:43 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 02/28/11 at 12:25 PM ET

Capgeek is a beautiful thing. Let’s take a look at how the roster might look, assuming the cap goes to $62 million

I don’t know if it will climb but I sure won’t be disappointed if it does.  This is getting to a figure that pre-lockout only 4 or 5 teams eclipsed.  I don’t remember the percentage, but the minimum % that teams will HAVE to spend at a max of $62M will be more than many teams want to or probably did in pre lockout days.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 02/28/11 at 08:33 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I think this is a great deal.  Jimmy is worth it and not only do the Wings not have to worry about what’s going to happen after the season ends, more importantly Jimmy doesn’t have it on his mind going in to the playoffs.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/28/11 at 08:39 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by RWBill from Virginia, Imported From Detroit, bitch. on 02/28/11 at 06:33 PM ET

It’s not even a percentage, but a hard figure. The floor is $16 million below the ceiling, regardless of where the ceiling is. If I’m right and the cap goes to $62, the floor will be $46 million—which is higher than the ceiling was the first two years after the lockout.

Obviously, it’s not a sustainable system without major changes, for the reasons you mentioned. I mean, goodness, the floor today is already higher than the ceiling was just five years ago.

If the cap floor continues to rise, the small-market teams will die. Already, these teams have internal budgets that prevent them from spending to the cap and make it harder to stay competitive. On the other hand, the harshness of the cap’s upper limit makes it difficult for teams that draft and develop players well to keep all their talent together.

If the league doesn’t want to go back to straight capitalism again (and it doesn’t), I wonder if some kind of hybrid system would work. If teams could, say, go a certain amount over a soft cap—but pay heavy luxury taxes on those dollars which go into revenue sharing—that might give rich teams wiggle room to resign their players and help keep smaller team competitive.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/28/11 at 08:54 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I think that dropping the floor to $20 million below the ceiling would help, too, and reduce escrow withholdings, but I’m not sure that Bettman would go for that.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/01/11 at 12:03 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.