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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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statelouis26's avatar

IMO we saw Filppula reach his potential last year w/ 23 goals and 66pts.  Fil is probably a great guy, works hard consistently and has a good defensive conscience.  But he can’t create things by himself offensively, disappears for stretches, puts up empty numbers (not when the game is on the line) and does struggles come playoff time.  Fil is not a goal scorer but his playoff goal totals are particularly deflating.  0g in 5games last year, 2g in 11 games in 2011, 4g in 12 games in 2010 (his best output to date), 3g in 23 games in 2009, 5g in 22 games in 2008, and 3g in 18 games in 2007.  Assists don’t win games, goals do.  Overpaying for Fil because the Wings have lost talent (on the blueline mainly) is not a good approach.  He is a good player but not worth his likely demand of 4.5M per.  Its all about value in a cap world.  He’s not irreplaceable later.  The Wings can’t keep everybody like they did before the 05’ lockout.  There will be casualties.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 03/11/13 at 03:35 PM ET

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

IMO when one goalie is allowing 1 fewer goal every 4ish games, in the frame of reference that encapsulates the modern goalie that’s pretty noteworthy.

Keep in mind we’re not dealing with a statistical range from 0 goals to 5 goals a game.  An elite goalie will have a GAA of 2-2.2.  A middle of the pack goalie season will have a GAA around 2.3-2.5.  The bottom tier goalies have a GAA of 2.6+.

In that context, where the difference between strata is .1-.5 goals per game… yeah, .25ish goals per game is significant.

There was a reason Osgood had a cap hit of $1.4M, he wasn’t dependable (bad health and awful consistency).

Go back and look at the numbers.  He had a pretty good 01-02 and a pretty good 03-04.  He was hurt in 02-03.  No, Osgood was never Brodeurian in his ability to endlessly play games and never get hurt, but you’re overstating his degree of suck outside of Detroit by a lot.

The 2005-6 team was a total mess, Osgood included.  He got hurt again in 2006-7, but by now he was nearing the end.  Then he had that little thing I like to call one of the best seasons a Wings goalie has ever had in 2007-8. 

His last two years his playoff line reads as follows:  29-7, .928 sv%, 1.8 GAA.

Anyway, Howard’s got a long, long way to go before I think he’s worth big-goalie money.  He could start by not being worse in the playoffs than he is in the regular season.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/11/13 at 03:37 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

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

My mistake. But try not to be so literal, you know what I meant.

He had a cheap contract and played out of his mind. That does not mean any goalie with a cheap contract will play out of his mind.

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?

Not double (notice that I never mentioned any numbers), but his next contract will be based on his four-year NHL resume, while his current deal was based on two years of experience.

It matters, especially now that our goalies face 30+ shots a game, not 25.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 03:39 PM ET

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Howard let in on average one more goal than Mrazek every 4.2 games. Not exactly “way better” where I come from.
   
Posted by some kid on 03/11/13 at 12:08 PM ET

This is all totally beside the point, since AHL numbers from different years on different teams (yeah, both Griffins, but with totally different rosters) are not really comparable.

But ..

The difference between .910 and .919 is huge.

At 29 shots against per game (roughly the NHL average), a .919 goalie will save you an extra 0.261 goals against per game (or one goal every 3.8 games).

That may not seem like a lot to you, but think about it this way: what if you could replace one of your skaters with one who generated an extra 0.261 points per game of offense (assuming defensive parity) in the same role? That’s the difference between having, say, a 40-point player and a 62-point player in your lineup. That’s a significant upgrade.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/11/13 at 03:46 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/11/13 at 03:46 PM ET

Well, if it’s beside the point to compare numbers then why are you comparing numbers?

I broke it down above using their actual statistics – which you neglected to quote. The difference between Howard & Mzarek’s rookie campaigns is 1 goal ever 4.2 games.

Is that a difference? Yes.

Is that night and day different? No.

Posted by SK77 on 03/11/13 at 04:13 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

His last two years his playoff line reads as follows:  29-7, .928 sv%, 1.8 GAA.

I don’t know why I should trust his last 36 playoff games and not his last 70 regular season games.

Also, look at Howard’s Capgeek comparable cap hits. It’s full of older players, young promises and generally backups. I’m not arguing Howard deserves to double his salary (I’m not arguing anything), butt his current salary is backup money, unproven money or washed-up money.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 04:17 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

By the way, why the hell are we discussing Osgood’s salary? His play came out of nowhere, neither him or Babcock or Osgood or Santa knew he’d play like that.

And that’s EXACTLY my point? You are looking at Howard’s contract in light of an aberration. $1.4M goalies do not perform like Osgood did, he should have no effect at all on those nogotiations.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/11/13 at 04:20 PM ET

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Posted by some kid on 03/11/13 at 04:13 PM ET

It’s beside the point to compare what Howard did several years ago in the AHL to what Mrazek is doing now, because the situations are much different. My point is an academic one; namely, that in the long run a goalie that averages .919 is much better than a goalie who average .910 in similar circumstances.

You allege that an extra goal against every 4 games is not a big difference. I allege that it is. It doesn’t seem like it would be intuitively but over a normal starter’s workload of about 60 games it translates into an extra 15 or so goals against per season. So if the team with the better goalie ended with a goal differential of, say, +25, the team with the worse goalie would only be about +10. Big, BIG difference.

Lastly, the reason I used my number (3.8 games per goal) instead of yours (4.2) is because it adjusts for shots against. A .910 goalie whose team gives up 40 shots per game is going to allow twice as many goals as a .910 goalie whose team gives up 20 shots per game, even he’s not any better or worse statistically. By calculating the number directly from the save percentage rather than taking the actual data, we can compensate better for the strength of the defense and make a more apples-to-apples comparison.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/11/13 at 04:37 PM ET

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By calculating the number directly from the save percentage rather than taking the actual data

I’m pre-emptively clarifying myself here, because that seems more confusing than I meant it to be. It really should say:

“By calculated the number from the save percentage using a standard number of shots against, rather than taking the game results

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/11/13 at 04:50 PM ET

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You are looking at Howard’s contract in light of an aberration.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Osgood’s $1.4M should be what Detroit targets for Howard.

The point is that if you’re going to get a significant raise (which 800k to $1.4M is) then you really should be doing something to distinguish yourself in the playoffs.

The league is practically littered with high-priced goalies who never proved themselves in the playoffs.  That should be a warning sign in itself against committing big money to goalies.

Posted by Garth on 03/11/13 at 05:14 PM ET

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Anyone suggesting that Howard should/would earn upwards of 5mil per is f***ing crazy. Give him 3 years at 3.5mil per and both sides have achieved a fair deal.

Posted by godblender on 03/11/13 at 05:56 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

I was just glad when Jimmah did not win the Calder Which would have drove his current salary higher. Hopfully this doesn’t become a distraction like the last contract and also the attempted signing of Nobokov did. He had a poor stretch there until it was all resolved.

3 to 4 for 3 years sounds about right to me . Who is his agent?

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 03/11/13 at 08:51 PM ET

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That does not mean any goalie with a cheap contract will play out of his mind.

It also doesn’t mean any goalie making 3+ mil will be better than any goalie making less than 3 mil, either.  As of today, the top 5 paid goalies in the NHL (by cap hit) are 6th, 9th, 14th, 27th and 26th in GAA.

You’re making a strawman argument, Herm.  The point isn’t that Detroit should just sign any cheap, crappy goalie to save money.  That’s dumb.  The point is that Detroit can sign a goalie who makes a fraction of an alleged 4-5 mil price point for Howard, get a goalie 90+% as good, and then roll the ‘savings’ in to other roster needs.

Had Howard done the things I believe he needs to in order to warrant legit big-time starter money, I’d be fine with him making it… but he hasn’t.  Do I think that means the Wings should just offer him 1.5 mil or something?  No, of course not.  There’s a premium I’m willing to pay for stability at the position, just not much of one.

I don’t know why I should trust his last 36 playoff games and not his last 70 regular season games.

I don’t think it makes any sense to try and separate them, though.

Which goalie would you pay more, the one who was mediocre in the regular season but great in the playoffs, or the goalie who was great in the regular season but mediocre in the playoffs?

For me, I’d always pay the guy who was great in the playoffs because I think the playoffs are more important than the regular season.  In the regular season you can split up starts… in the playoffs, not so much. I mean, you can split up the starts, but that hardly ever works out.

So you don’t have to ignore one over the other, no, but I think it’s a mistake to weight them equivalently.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/12/13 at 06:55 AM ET

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Here’s the way I look at goaltender value in today’s NHL.  There are 30 #1 goalie spots in the NHL and 180 top six forward spots.

IMO the 20th starting goalie is way closer to the best starting goalie than the 120th top 6 forward is to the best top 6 forward.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/12/13 at 07:00 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

You’re making a strawman argument, Herm.

I have no idea what this means, you and JJ throw this against each other so often that I assume it’s just gibberish.

The point isn’t that Detroit should just sign any cheap, crappy goalie to save money.  That’s dumb.  The point is that Detroit can sign a goalie who makes a fraction of an alleged 4-5 mil price point for Howard, get a goalie 90+% as good, and then roll the ‘savings’ in to other roster needs.

My point is that Detroit is lowballing players for a long time. At one point we’re gonna have to start paying market value, and as I’ve shown you, Howard’s current salary is that of a backup.

If Holland manages to mantain the same cap hit on his next deal, awesome. But he’s worth more.

So you don’t have to ignore one over the other, no, but I think it’s a mistake to weight them equivalently.

I’m not saying it’s equivalent, but it’s 36 games vs 70 games. What’s the correct weight-ratio, HD? It’s twice as much crappy goaltending against amazing goaltending.

Do I think that means the Wings should just offer him 1.5 mil or something?  No, of course not.

Again, I’m not talking numbers here. And I explicitly said I want nothing to do with Osgood’s contract, everything about that was an aberration.

(but if we ARE talking about his contract, and Garth says a 800k-to-1.4M is a big raise, then we just prefer to look at things differently.

I see it as a 600k raise, he see it as 75%. that’s it)

The point is that Detroit can sign a goalie who makes a fraction of an alleged 4-5 mil price point for Howard, get a goalie 90+% as good, and then roll the ‘savings’ in to other roster needs.

Now, let’s get to it: the Wings are struggling with Howard, a perfectly capable NHL goalie. How would they do with a worse goalie?

And why do you assume Holland will roll the savings on anyone? The team ended the last couple of season with decent (or huge) cap room available, and obvious holes throughout the line up. You think Howard’s 600k discount would be of such great importance if Holland can’t make any deal with 6M open?

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/12/13 at 07:32 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

A straw man is when a person offers a situation that doesn’t really exist so that they can shoot it down. For example, creating a caricature of the NHLPA in order to advance a narrative that unionized workers are somehow bad is a classic straw man fallacy.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 03/12/13 at 08:03 AM ET

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My point is that Detroit is lowballing players for a long time. At one point we’re gonna have to start paying market value, and as I’ve shown you, Howard’s current salary is that of a backup.

No it isn’t.  It’s that of a solid goalie who still hasn’t proven himself in the playoffs.

Just because teams are overpaying for the Bryzgalovs, Luongos, Pavelecs, DiPietros, Backstroms and Millers doesn’t mean Detroit is going to suddenly start winning playoff series if they overpay for Howard.

I see it as a 600k raise, he see it as 75%. that’s it

It’s both, but you can’t pretend that a 75% raise isn’t big.  Are you out of your mind?  If you’re making $40k and your boss gives you a raise to $70k it’s a f*cking huge raise.  It doesn’t matter how it compares to the CEO’s salary because that’s irrelevant.  You compae a raise to what you previously made, not what other people make.

How would they do with a worse goalie?

Nice BS, ignoring-the-points-being-made argument.  You’re learning well from HockeyinHD.

Obviously nobody is saying to sign a cheap goalie (or sign Howard for a not-retarded raise) and just do nothing else.  The point is that Detroit’s model for the past 10-15 year is to spend money on defense and spend money on offense so that they don’t have to overspend to a stupid degree and have a $4-5M goalie they have to depend on.

To answer your question directly, if they sign a top-two defenseman and a top-six forward who can score (you know, the model they used when they were winning Stanley Cups and making it within a game of winning back-to-back Stanley Cups?) then they’ll do fine.

And why do you assume Holland will roll the savings on anyone?

Because as annoyed as we all are about what he has or hasn’t done, Holland has certainly tried to spend the cap space he had.

Posted by Garth on 03/12/13 at 09:25 AM ET

calquake's avatar

The point is that Detroit can sign a goalie who makes a fraction of an alleged 4-5 mil price point for Howard, get a goalie 90+% as good, and then roll the ‘savings’ in to other roster needs.

Okay, name them.  Simple.  Name them.  Name who is or will be available that meets your criteria that the Wings can sign for the next 3-4 years.  I asked for this much earlier in this thread and have yet to receive an answer.  It will certainly give your point of view credence to name some names.

Posted by calquake on 03/12/13 at 11:04 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

To answer your question directly, if they sign a top-two defenseman and a top-six forward who can score (you know, the model they used when they were winning Stanley Cups and making it within a game of winning back-to-back Stanley Cups?) then they’ll do fine.

It seems to me that we’re on the same page (again, I NEVER SAID HOWARD SHOULD MAKE 4 OR 5 MILLION), but we disagree with this “if”. That’s a major “if”. It’s an “if” Holland seems to have a hard time erasing.

Obviously nobody is saying to sign a cheap goalie (or sign Howard for a not-retarded raise) and just do nothing else.

Of course. History suggests we’ll have the 2013 version of Jason Williams, Mikael Samuelsson or Jordin Tootoo.

No it isn’t.  It’s that of a solid goalie who still hasn’t proven himself in the playoffs.

Have you looked at the list? Backup, washed up, promise. I didn’t pull this out of my head.

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

Guilherme's avatar

It seems to me the root of this talk is Holland, not Howard.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/12/13 at 11:20 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 03/12/13 at 11:33 AM ET

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That’s a major “if”.

So is signing a goalie who hasn’t proven himself in the playoffs and assuming that he’s going to prove himself.

It seems to me the root of this talk is Holland, not Howard.

Absolutely.

Posted by Garth on 03/12/13 at 01:29 PM ET

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Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/12/13 at 07:00 AM ET

Except that 120th player, per stats, in the NHL, is ‘s is a larger difference than

You’re right! Marc-Andre Fleury (#20) is to much closer in skill to, ehhh, Craig Anderson (#1) than Brad Richards (#120) to Crosby (#1)?

Of course this all depends on who is in the list and how that list is ordered. I just did it based on scoring and goals against because it didn’t make the difference so simply clear.

Posted by howeandhowe on 03/13/13 at 05:54 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.