Red Wings, G Howard agree to $31.8M deal

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings and goalie Jimmy Howard
agreed to a $31.8 million, six-year contract Tuesday, keeping him off
the market as a free agent this summer.

The 29-year-old Howard is in his fourth season as the Red Wings’ top goalie.

“We’re extremely pleased to have Jimmy
under contract for the next six seasons,” general manager Ken Holland
said. “He’s entering the prime of his career and over the last four
years has gained a tremendous amount of regular season and postseason
experience.”

Howard is 17-12-6 with a 2.31
goals-against average and a .920 save percentage this season. Detroit is
in a wild race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference,
hoping to extend their postseason streak to 22 years.

Howard was drafted by Detroit in the
second round in 2003. In 2009-10, he went 37-15-10 with a 2.26 GAA,
becoming the fourth goalie in team history to win at least 30 games as a
rookie.

He went on to become the first Detroit goalie to win at least 35 games in each of his first three full seasons.

“He’s developed into a top-tier NHL
goaltender and is a very important part of our team moving forward,”
Holland said. “Jimmy is one of our leaders and we look forward to
watching him elevate his game to the next level in a Red Wings’
sweater.”

After Monday’s games, Detroit was tied
for eighth in the West with Columbus, although the Red Wings have played
one fewer game. Dallas was two points behind the Red Wings and Blue
Jackets, with Phoenix another two back.

Howard’s 2.38 GAA over the last four
seasons ranks him 11th in the league in that span. What he has yet to do
is lead the Red Wings on an extended postseason run. He’s 13-15 with a
2.63 GAA in the playoffs, and Detroit hasn’t made it past the second
round since 2009.