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What Would You Pay Jimmy Howard?

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal notes...

The Detroit Red Wings will have to buck up for Jimmy Howard this summer when he’s an unrestricted free agent. Is he worth Kari Lehtonen’s $5.9 million, which starts next season? That’s an overpay by the Dallas Stars. But I’d say Howard should go from $2.25 million to $5 million. They don’t have a backup. He’s their guy. You have to temper Detroit’s excellent first half because they have 14 road games left in their final 22 games.

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Nathan's avatar

Detroit’s excellent first half

Uh… sarcasm?

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 03/11/13 at 09:35 AM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Nothing more than $4.25m

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 03/11/13 at 09:40 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Well, if Holland gives Filppula 4.5, Jimmah deserves 8.5

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/11/13 at 09:41 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

I’d say $5 M is about right. Maybe $4.5 M as that’s double and the cap is coming down the next two seasons. Either one should fit. The question is for how many years should they sign him? I’d say 3-5, no more, preferably 3. I only hope Howard is realistic about what he can make to allow the Wings to build a strong contender in front of him.

Posted by Bradley97 on 03/11/13 at 09:47 AM ET

Heaton's avatar

Personally, I don’t think any goalie is worth more than 4.5m in the capped world, be it Lundqvist, Quick or Rinne.  So I wouldn’t pay Jimmy more than 4.5m .

Posted by Heaton on 03/11/13 at 09:48 AM ET

Heaton's avatar

Posted by Vladimir16 on 03/11/13 at 10:41 AM ET

For what?  Jimmy is a pretty good goalie, but he really hasn’t accomplished much of anything.  He’s had horrific stretches of below averages goalies, been wildly inconsistent and outside of a few games in the playoffs he hasn’t looked like anything special.  He’s better than some goalies in the NHL, but with the goalie market there’s guys out there available that are just as good.

Posted by Heaton on 03/11/13 at 09:51 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Posted by Heaton on 03/11/13 at 10:51 AM ET

That was sarcasm, my friend.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/11/13 at 10:00 AM ET

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For a guy whose career playoff numbers are worse across the board than his career regular season numbers (and that’s pretty tough for a goalie people consider good to manage), Detroit needs to be very, very careful how they handle this situation.

IMO Holland should offer him a max of 4 years at a max of 4 mil per.  There are a lot of competent NHL goalies that will be available for a pittance next year.  Howard may be better than them.  Maybe.  I don’t think he’s better enough to make it worth going to crazy with his deal.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/11/13 at 10:01 AM ET

Heaton's avatar

Posted by Vladimir16 on 03/11/13 at 11:00 AM ET

I understood that, but a guy like Filppula would be worth a 4.5m contract more than Howard would.  On any given night where Howard is bad, the Wings most likely lose.  On any given night that Filppula is bad, the outcome isn’t as easily determined.  Bottom line, goalies are sometimes too hit or miss to be given huge deals.  Look at Nashville, sure they locked up a top 2 goalie in the league, but they still have nothing else going on. Would a 4m goalie and a 4m forward or defensemen make them a better team?  Not sure, but you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Posted by Heaton on 03/11/13 at 10:04 AM ET

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Also, the idea ‘Detroit doesn’t have a backup’ is stupid in two directions.

First, Gustavsson’s competent.  Not great, but competent.  I’ve got no problem with him as a 20ish game backup at the NHL level.

Second, Mrazek is putting together a year that is way better than anything Howard ever did at the AHL level.

In GR Howard never had a GAA under 2.54, never had a save % better than .916 and never won more than 27 games (and never won more than 21 after his rookie AHL season).

In GR Mrazek has a GAA of 2.25, a save % of .919, and he’s already won 20 games… and likely would have had more by now if he hadn’t been up in Detroit for a month.

If you told me that next years’ goalie tandem would be Mrazek and Gustavsson for a combined 2.3 mil instead of Howard and Gustavsson for a combined (allegedly) 5.5ish, I’d be thrilled.

No backups my ass.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/11/13 at 10:11 AM ET

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I understood that, but a guy like Filppula would be worth a 4.5m contract more than Howard would.

Neither is.

Filppula is a third line centre who is an OK fill-in when there’s no real second line winger around (unlike, say, Justin Abdelkader who is a fourth line centre who should never be anything but tha).  Jimmy is a solid goalie who can salvage games for the underperforming team in front of him, but he certainly isn’t a $4M goalie.  His recent excellent regular seasons and less-than-excellent post-seasons prove that, more than anything, the Wings need to be giving the big contracts to the defensemen and the forwards rather than the goalies.

I’d give Jimmy Howard the Jonathan Ericsson contract and I’d give Filppula his walking papers.  I have no issues with Filppula and I wish him good luck cashing in this summer but I will have big issues with Filppula and the Red Wings if Detroit is the team that overpays for him.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 10:12 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

On any given night where Howard is bad, the Wings most likely lose.  On any given night that Filppula is bad, the outcome isn’t as easily determined.

Posted by Heaton on 03/11/13 at 11:04 AM ET

So by that logic, because Howard’s performance is more important to the team than Fil’s, he deserves less money?

Does not compute.

Posted by Hootinani on 03/11/13 at 10:13 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

i think you look at whats out there for next year and decide. jimmy likes detroit, only way i see him moving on is if he’s lowballed at a ridiculous number. a deal gets done eventually.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 03/11/13 at 10:21 AM ET

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Posted by Hootinani from Just outside Delta College Admissions Office on 03/11/13 at 11:13 AM ET

I think the point is that Filppula’s off-nights affect the outcome less.

Or, more bluntly, Filppula doesn’t lose games for Detroit.  Jimmy does.  You have to be able to see that giving a big contract to a guy whose play can undermine a great team performance could be a problem.

Imagine if Franzen, with his contract, singlehandedly lost games for Detroit.

Of course, the flipside of that is that Jimmy wins games for Detroit (or at least allows for the possibility of them winning games if they’re not knee-capped by a retarded coach who insists that a fourth line, non-scoring centre should be the winger on a scoring line) more than Filppula does.

Modest raise, short term.

Second, Mrazek is putting together a year that is way better than anything Howard ever did at the AHL level.

The problem with that is you can’t compare the AHL and NHL directly.  The fact that Jimmy was mediocre in GR and has stepped up his game in Detroit is evidence of how much of a signifier one’s AHL career is.  Brian Lashoff’s play in Detroit vs his play in GR back that up as well.  There are scores of guys who were lights out in the AHL and didn’t translate to the NHL well, as well as the opposite.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 10:23 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I’d give Jimmy Howard the Jonathan Ericsson contract and I’d give Filppula his walking papers.  I have no issues with Filppula and I wish him good luck cashing in this summer but I will have big issues with Filppula and the Red Wings if Detroit is the team that overpays for him.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 11:12 AM ET

I’m with you on that but I’d try like hell to trade Flip. If they let him walk I’ll be pissed. If they pay him anything near 4.5 I’ll be pissed.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/11/13 at 10:26 AM ET

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Here’s the problem with the Fil vs. Howard debate.  It is way, way easier to find a competent goalie if you need one than it is to find a competent top 6 winger if you need one.

There are more goalies who could play well as starters than there are starters jobs, and that’s nowhere close to true of forwards.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/11/13 at 10:36 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Of course, the flipside of that is that Jimmy wins games for Detroit (or at least allows for the possibility of them winning games if they’re not knee-capped by a retarded coach who insists that a fourth line, non-scoring centre should be the winger on a scoring line) more than Filppula does.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 11:23 AM ET

Bingo, my point exactly.  And he has stolen a few games for Detroit this year already.  Give Jimmy his 5mil, trade Fil off at the deadline for some d help, or even a winger for Pav if a decent one is available, and put Abby back where he belongs.

Posted by Hootinani on 03/11/13 at 10:37 AM ET

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Posted by Hootinani from Just outside Delta College Admissions Office on 03/11/13 at 11:37 AM ET

Yeah, but the problems are a) consistency, and b) playoffs.

His playoff stats are average.  Do you really give $5M a year to a guy with average playoff numbers?

Chris Osgood made $800k the year he won the Cup and $1.7M the year he was in the conversation of the Conn Smythe of Detroit repeated.  Howard has had good regular seasons but he certainly hasn’t stepped up his game in the playoffs, so what makes him worth $5?

The less money you give him the more flexibility you have with building up a better defense so that you don’t need a goalie who makes $5M (nevermind a goaile who is WORTH $5M, which I don’t think Howard is).

It definitely boggles my mind that anyone thinks Howard is good enough to be worth doubling his salary.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 11:07 AM ET

SK77's avatar

Second, Mrazek is putting together a year that is way better than anything Howard ever did at the AHL level.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/11/13 at 11:11 AM ET

Actually, no. EIther you’re “way” confused or being misleading on purpose.

Let’s compare rookie AHL seasons as Mrazek has no established track record at the pro level and could just as easily be the next Jim Carey or Steve Mason.

Howard – 38 Games, 1019 Shots Against, 92 Goals Against, 927 Saves, .910%
Mrazek – 31 Games, 850 Shots Against, 69 Goals Against, 781 Saves, .919%

You know what the difference is between a .910% and .919% is?

Howard let in on average one more goal than Mrazek every 4.2 games. Not exactly “way better” where I come from.

Posted by SK77 on 03/11/13 at 11:08 AM ET

statelouis26's avatar

Give Howard no better than 4M at 3 years.  He’s stolen 1 or 2 games this year.  Playoffs has shown to be just average.  Trade Fil at the deadline.  He’s a complimentary scoring winger and not worth a dime more than the 3M he currently makes.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 03/11/13 at 11:17 AM ET

alukacs's avatar

Fil’s numbers and his cap hit is excellent (0.5 pts/game consistently with an upside - like last year). You will no replace him easily. Same with Franzen. Love or hate him, he his 30 goals/60 points for 3.9 is an amazing deal in the current NHL.
As far as Howard - I believe he deserves a raise. I can’t remember a single game this season that we lost because of softies… Maybe a weaker goal here and there, but that’s just the reality of playing hockey.
To quote the best GM in hockey: “I like our team” grin

Posted by alukacs on 03/11/13 at 11:42 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

We have Mrazek coming downt he pipeline, then Paterson after that, I’d be cautious getting crazy with term.  3 years is fair.  between 4 and 5 I think is fair.  Jimmy’s stats in the playoffs I feel are skewed by the fact he had The Tin Man team in front of him half the time in the playoffs.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/11/13 at 11:46 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

4m-5m*

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/11/13 at 11:47 AM ET

SK77's avatar

We have Mrazek coming downt he pipeline, then Paterson after that, I’d be cautious getting crazy with term.  3 years is fair.  between 4 and 5 I think is fair.  Jimmy’s stats in the playoffs I feel are skewed by the fact he had The Tin Man team in front of him half the time in the playoffs.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/11/13 at 12:46 PM ET

A $4m / 3yr signing would be great. It’d give Mrazek one more season with the Griffins, then let him be the backup in Detroit for one season before he was RFA status, while Jimmy would have one year remaining. A lot easier to make decisions about future goaltending direction at that point.

Posted by SK77 on 03/11/13 at 11:55 AM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Simple question turns into a pissing match.

I guess I should ask myself, “Should I expect anything else,” but I’m sure that would devolve as well.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 03/11/13 at 11:58 AM ET

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Fil’s numbers and his cap hit is excellent

I won’t argue with you there, but the reality is that his cap hit this year is going to be nowhere near his cap hit next year.  His cap hit next year will be much higher, and quite a bit higher than Franzen.  Franzen is inconsistent (and the sky is blue) but he’s reliable for 25-30 goals a year whereas Filppula has hit 20 goals only once.  Seems like he’s a 15-20 goal scorer , and he’s going to be looking at better than Hudler type money.  He’s making right now what he should be making, and should continue to make.

I’m curious to see what happens because with the Quincey and Abdelkader signings, Ken Holland has shown that he’s willing to way overpay just to keep someone around so I wouldn’t be surprised if he way overpays to keep Filppula around.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:03 PM ET

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Uh… sarcasm?

Considering the talent that was lost and not replaced over the past couple years and the amount of injuries the Wings have had (ie. a defense full of spare parts and a second line with a useless grinder on it who, if you asked him to point in the direction of the net, much less to put the puck in it, would fail to do so 6 times out of ten), I would say that the fact that they’re currently in the playoffs and in a home-ice position right now is pretty impressive.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:14 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

and in a home-ice position right now is pretty impressive.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 01:14 PM ET

Having played at least 1 more game than every other team and 2 for most who are only 1 point behind.  We still have to hope for other teams to do some losing to keep good standing and throwing away points to the blue jackets isn’t going to help us at all.  Bad time to hit a skid too.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/11/13 at 12:17 PM ET

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Having played at least 1 more game than every other team and 2 for most who are only 1 point behind.

Doesn’t really change the fact that the Wings really are in better shape than they have any right to be.  This roster wouldn’t be all that impressive if they were healthy.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:23 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Chris Osgood made $800k the year he won the Cup and $1.7M the year he was in the conversation of the Conn Smythe of Detroit repeated.  Howard has had good regular seasons but he certainly hasn’t stepped up his game in the playoffs, so what makes him worth $5?

The less money you give him the more flexibility you have with building up a better defense so that you don’t need a goalie who makes $5M (nevermind a goaile who is WORTH $5M, which I don’t think Howard is).

It definitely boggles my mind that anyone thinks Howard is good enough to be worth doubling his salary.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:07 PM ET

Did you believe Chris Osgood could deliver the clutch performances of ‘08 and ‘09 before he did so?

I believe Howard is worth $4-5 M for 3 years because that’s what his going rate is right now for a goalie with his production (maybe more if some of the more ridiculous contracts are taken into account). Based on Osgood’s playoff performance, he was a steal. Howard still has to prove himself in the playoffs, but he won’t get that chance until the Wings make the playoffs with a strong team similar to what Osgood had in front of him. That has not been the case since ‘09, as the team fell into poor defensive habits and stopped playing the type of hockey it takes to win. Then there has been the turnover in personnel due in part to age and in part to the cap. This team is rebuilding and Howard is the reason they have a chance to make the playoffs this season. I reserve further judgement until the team he backstops is good enough to make a playoff run with a solid net minder behind it.

Further more, Howard wins games. Sometimes those wins are ugly. And leading up to his shutout the team cost him 2 shutouts before that, so the eyeball test shows me he’s worth the money we are discussing and the term.

Posted by Bradley97 on 03/11/13 at 12:28 PM ET

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Sometimes those wins are ugly. And leading up to his shutout the team cost him 2 shutouts before that, so the eyeball test shows me he’s worth the money we are discussing and the term.

Sure, if you’re paying him for the regular season only, great.

He’s not proven in playoffs though.  Period.  Good team or bad team in front of him is irrelevant.  Five million dollars for a goalie when you have no idea what he will do in the playoffs is ridiculous to me. 

His save percentage was .924 and .908 in the two years before his last extension.  Last year it was .920 and this year it’s .916, what is the number that indicates he should get a 100% raise?  Hell, in his two partial seasons as backup in Detroit Joey MacDonald had .917 and .912 percentages.  During the home winning streak last year, when Howard went down and MacDonald stepped in there was not a step lost.  Where’s MacDonald’s $5M contract?

I like Howard a lot.  He’s a solid, stable goalie.  But $5M?  That’s ridiculous to me.

I reserve further judgement until the team he backstops is good enough to make a playoff run with a solid net minder behind it.

So he’s not worth $5M?

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:45 PM ET

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Did you believe Chris Osgood could deliver the clutch performances of ‘08 and ‘09 before he did so?

In ‘08 I was relieved when he replaced Hasek because I’ve never trusted Hasek but nio, I didn’t expect him to be that good.

But in 09?  Hell yes I believe hed could deliver, because he did in 08.

Hell, in ‘08 he was fantastic and was given a three year contract, and by the end of it we couldn’t wait for him to be gone.

And his cap hit was only $1.4M.  Detroit got two amazing post seasons out of Ozzie.  None yet out of Howard.  What happens if Howard never plays the way Ozzie did in 2009, but he’s got a FIVE million dollar a year contract.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:49 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Wings fans should stop treating exceptions as the rule.

Not every $800k goalie will play out of his mind in the playoffs (while sucking on the regular season). Not every 5’2” Euro-forward drafted in the 100th round will run for the Selke. Not all defensemen will win the Norris. And we’d have to suck a lot more to win the lottery and draft Seth Jones.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 12:50 PM ET

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Not every $800k goalie will play out of his mind in the playoffs (while sucking on the regular season).

Did Osgood suck in the regular season in 07-08 when he made $800k?

He was an all-star.
He led the league in GAA.
He won the Jennings Trophy with Hasek (while having the better GAA and Sv% of the two and the same number of wins).

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 12:59 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

So he’s not worth $5M?

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 01:45 PM ET

To clarify, I was referring to playoff performance. Yes, his regular season performance dictates the contract we are discussing ($4-5 M/year).

And his cap hit was only $1.4M.  Detroit got two amazing post seasons out of Ozzie.  None yet out of Howard.  What happens if Howard never plays the way Ozzie did in 2009, but he’s got a FIVE million dollar a year contract.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 01:49 PM ET

That’s why I only want him signed for 3 years. Presuming the Wings complete their rebuild by the final year, that’s the year Howard should be in position to prove his true overall value, regular season and playoff combined. Should he falter, Mrazek will hopefully be there to take over the starting position.

Wings fans should stop treating exceptions as the rule.

Not every $800k goalie will play out of his mind in the playoffs (while sucking on the regular season). Not every 5’2” Euro-forward drafted in the 100th round will run for the Selke. Not all defensemen will win the Norris. And we’d have to suck a lot more to win the lottery and draft Seth Jones.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 01:50 PM ET

Exactly my point in comparing Osgood at the end of his career to Howard in his 20’s.

Posted by Bradley97 on 03/11/13 at 01:13 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Did Osgood suck in the regular season in 07-08 when he made $800k?

He was an all-star.
He led the league in GAA.
He won the Jennings Trophy with Hasek (while having the better GAA and Sv% of the two and the same number of wins).

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 01:59 PM ET

But the following year he posted a GAA of 3.09 (up from 2.09) and a SV% of .887 (up from .914), yet in the playoffs he almost won the Conn Smythe.

Posted by Bradley97 on 03/11/13 at 01:17 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Did Osgood suck in the regular season in 07-08 when he made $800k?

One year. The other two? .887 in one season, .888 the next. He was bailed out by an incredible offense (and Conklin) first, then an amazing rookie campaign by Howard.

There was a reason Osgood had a cap hit of $1.4M, he wasn’t dependable (bad health and awful consistency). How good is a goalie that plays great playoff hockey if his play drags the team down in Oct-Apr?

The Red Wings caught lightnings on a lot of bottles named Datsyuk, Zetterberg, even Lidstrom way back, Osgood was another one of those. (I’d argue about Franzén’s playoff performance, too)

And that is my point: you can’t rely on two or three miracles every decade.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 01:22 PM ET

Crater's avatar

The Red Wings caught lightnings on a lot of bottles named Datsyuk, Zetterberg, even Lidstrom way back, Osgood was another one of those. (I’d argue about Franzén’s playoff performance, too)

And that is my point: you can’t rely on two or three miracles every decade.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 02:22 PM ET

Lets also not forget, Osgood was also chased out of town on waivers. And when he came back he had to fight Legacy for a starting job. Howards to Osgood is apples to oranges.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 03/11/13 at 01:39 PM ET

calquake's avatar

The Red Wings are not a team, even when completely healthy, that is going to win the Cup this year unless a miracle does happen.  Signing Howard for 3yrs. at 4.5 mil is for the future and a fair contract in today’s marketplace.  Who is or will be available that will come cheaper and be a better backstop for the Wings the next three years?

Posted by calquake on 03/11/13 at 02:14 PM ET

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One year.

Right.  The one year that you referenced, when he was making 800k.

How good is a goalie that plays great playoff hockey if his play drags the team down in Oct-Apr?

Absolutely right.

And how good is a goalie who is good in the regular season but doesn’t step his game up in the playoffs?

And that is my point: you can’t rely on two or three miracles every decade.

I agree, but that doesn’t mean they should vastly overpay for their non-miraculous players.

This current contract tripled Howards yearly cap hit over the last one.  Has his play significantly improved so much that this salary should be more than doubled again?

The numbers don’t support that…

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 02:24 PM 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.