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Red Wings Jimmy Howard’s Trade Value Isn’t As High As His Keep Value

DETROIT, MICH — The Red Wings have a problem.. Let me reiterate, the Red Wings have a problem that would be considered a good problem to have. Detroit has a tandem of two starting-caliber goalies in Jimmy Howard, and young-gun Petr Mrazek. Both goalies are some that I would imagine a handful of NHL teams would be very thankful to have. If you combine both Howard and Mrazek’s cap-hit, you come out with just north of six-million dollars. When you compare that to some of the elite goaltenders in the NHL, I think that’s an ideal situation to have with two net-minders who can start on any given night. The best part about it? With Petr Mrazek’s pending RFA status after the 2015-2016 season, you have two goalies who give you a controlled amount of cap-hit to have tied up in your goalie core.

There’s been a bit of ruckus over the last two years from fans, and Detroit media that Jimmy Howard should be on his way out of town. Before he was forced out of the 2015 NHL All Star Game due to injury, Howard was having a solid start to his sixth season as the Red Wings go-to starter. He ended the season with 23-13-11 record, and a 2.44 goals allowed average over the span of 53 games. With Red Wings backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson sidelined most of the season with an injury, Petr Mrazek saw 29 games with a record of 16-9-2, and a 2.38 goals allowed average. Mrazek eventually saw his first career appearance in the 2015 NHL Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning in which he saw seven games, and had an extremely impressive outing for a rookie goaltender in the Red Wings first round exit.

With the surging performance of a young goalie comes media-based backlash on goalie Jimmy Howard. Jeff Riger of 97.1 The Ticket posted an article the other day that urged Ken Holland to consider trading Howard, and give the 24-year-old Czech goaltender the full-time job:

Sure Mrazek struggled at times and yes he allowed his fair share of “soft goals” but the money Howard is owed is better used in other areas. This blog is not to bash Jimmy and what he’s already achieved in a Wings uniform should not go unnoticed but the GM’s job is to make the Wings better next season and this is simply a matter of money, cash better spent elsewhere.

Howard makes a lot but he’s still relatively young and it seems like Detroit could easily sell last season’s injury as the reason he struggled. They could point out his excellent, All Star stats pre injury. Detroit can cite his game 7 wins, his US Olympic stint, and him being good in the room as well. Teams are always looking for a goalie and with Howard’s credentials, there no doubt has to be one squad that would take him off the Wings hands.

Howard has had a nice run in a Wings uniform and now it’s time for that run to continue elsewhere. Holland says no but I think he should reconsider.


While I appreciate Riger’s work, and the voice that he has, there are a few things I would like to address with what’s been said on this situation.

If, and that is a huge resounding if – If the Red Wings are able to trade Jimmy Howard and get a hefty $5.2 million relief in their cap, where would that money be better spent? The knee-jerk answer to this is the market of unrestricted free agents that are on the cards for the offseason. The Red Wings are a logjam at both ends of the ice, yet defense is something that they have been trying to bolster ever since 2012 when Nicklas Lidstrom decided to hang up his skates for good. Let’s have a quick look at the more alluring crop of defenseman UFA this summer:

Mike Green – 29 years old

Paul Martin – 34 years old

Christian Ehrhoff – 32 years old

Andrej Sekera – 29 years old

Cody Franson – 27 years old

All of these players await a big payday, and there’s no doubt about that. Let’s just pretend Detroit didn’t have a logjam of bottom-four defensemen already on their roster, stay with me now, we’re pretending.. Do players like this make our team better? Absolutely without a shadow of a doubt. The problem is, these players are going to command money, and term. Two things Detroit have had a bad reputation with in recent years. Mike Green and Paul Martin could very well command terms with over $6 million AAV. They deserve it, sure, but the Red Wings are quickly exiting the “win now” stage, and are beginning the commencing of “draft and develop.” My point is that Ken Holland should not be considering taking on big contracts at a time like this. They need a defenseman who is promising, skillful, and most importantly – Has not reached his prime. I’m talking about players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, or Aaron Ekblad. Two players who are absolutely lightyears away from the trade block.

Speaking of trades, how many top-pair game-changing defensemen are currently on the trade block, let alone for a goaltender? The teams in play for a starting goalie don’t exactly have those types of players for sale, or they don’t even have them at all. So yeah, let’s throw that idea in the garbage bin.

Let’s say that you hypothetically could trade Jimmy Howard for a couple of draft picks, and get the cap-relief. You then need to set aside some of that money for a serviceable NHL backup. Are they easy to find? Sure, yeah. Also, don’t tell me that Tom McCollum would be the answer, because we all know that’s not true. The Red Wings have some promising young goalie prospects, but none that can be trusted at the NHL level, even at a backup position.

The thing with Detroit is that they absolutely have a lot of cap space to work with, but as I said before, I just don’t think they can afford to spend the space they have on a contract with big term. You have two NHL-ready defensemen in Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet, albeit they are not top-pair players, they can get the job done in the bottom-four… Assuming you can somehow shed one of Brendan Smith or Jakub Kindl from the roster (that’s a whole other can of worms to be opened in a different post.)

So at the end of the day, if Detroit somehow can bolster their defense by stripping Jimmy Howard’s contract, it is a complete shot in the dark. I say this because you’re banking on your top-pair to be lights out while giving up your extremely favorable tandem of goalies in Howard and Mrazek. I’m not saying that Howard needs to start. I think the job should go to the best goalie, and I also think that Mrazek is the better goalie as of right now. The competition between the two have serious potential to light fires underneath each other’s rear-ends, and challenge them to become better at their craft.

The Red Wings need a defensive hero, but I have high doubts that he comes from free agency. With the tandem of two NHL starters at your helm, why change it now? You said it yourself, Kenny.. Draft and develop.

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