Howard won’t be moved anytime soon

As people look for ways for the Wings to find salary room, or just looking to axe “bad” contracts, moving Jimmy Howard almost always comes up at some point. He’s never really lived up to his contract, injuries have been a concern, and his game seems to go off the rails out of the blue. At the same time, after a rough start, he stepped up and played no small part in getting the Wings into the playoffs this year.

However, we have Petr Mrazek here. By all appearances he’s going to be a very good goalie (to say the least), his deal should be quite a bit more affordable than Howard’s, and people just seem ready to turn the page. It’s not like there is not another viable option if Howard is moved.

So, why not move him? Well, it might just not be worth it. Yeah, he makes $5.2 million (roughly) and freeing that up to pursue other upgrades would be nice. Except we wouldn’t be freeing up all of that $5.2m. First, we’d probably have to eat some salary in any move. The absolute best we could probably hope for is to retain just $1 million per year for the rest of his deal. Even after eating some salary, it’s unlikely we can move him and take no salary back. Again, probably the best we could hope for is someone making around $1 million a season. So, there’s $2 million in empty salary and a guy the other team wants around about as much as we want Howard. And now we still have to sign a backup goalie. The best (cheapest) option would be internally, which would mean either Coreau or McCollum. That gets us to ~$3 million spent, meaning we would have a little over $2 million extra to spend over the summer.

Which would be good. However, there are problems with this. First, we’d probably have to retain more salary. I would guess upwards of $2m would be more likely. Second, we’d probably be taking back more than $1 million in salary. Third, would anyone feel comfortable walking into next season with Coreau or McCullum as our backup, with the other being the third stringer waiting to be called up from GR? I’m not saying it’s a non-starter, but it doesn’t seem like a move Holland would make, and I think it would be a big telegraph that making the playoffs is seen as a massive long shot next year.

The third point can be worked with if the rest of the team is strengthened enough with other moves. I mean, we’ve went into seasons with “Ticker” Hodgson and Manny Legace as our dedicated backups in the past, and we did it largely because the rest of the team was so freakishly deep. While there isn’t a chance we approach that sort of depth in the near future, it does show it’s doable. The bigger obstacles are the first two. For every dollar we have to retain, and for every dollar we take back in a modestly undesirable deal, and then for every dollar we have to spend to secure a backup, it becomes increasingly pointless to move Howard at all. At that point, our best move might just be to roll with the guy we know, and look for a better opportunity to move him later – either next offseason, when another year has eclipsed from his deal, or even in an expansion draft where we could leave him exposed.

What hurts is that the same argument can be made for/against moving Jonathan Ericsson. The big guy’s play has slipped, he has a deal not a lot of us like, but try moving him. It becomes a more difficult proposition than it appears. While we could buy him out, and at least lessen his cap hit, we then have that cap hit over a longer period, and we’re already paying Stephen Weiss not to show up at the rink.  We might be better off just demoting him to GR at that point, and hoping either that someone is desperate enough for help that they pluck him away for free, or that he clears and can be recalled from GR at will in case injuries cause a need for a Rent-a-Player.

And all of this is without going into the Zetterberg/Franzen contract mess.

To revisit the Howard situation for a moment, one suggestion floated by, I think, one of the Wings’ beat writers was moving Howard straight up for Wideman out of Calgary. Which actually looks good on paper, except Wideman’s deal isn’t that much better than Howard’s. It’s shorter, but we also saw Wideman be less than an ideal teammate over the course of this season when he decided to bump a ref.

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3 Responses to “Howard won’t be moved anytime soon”

  1. fruscianteredwing Says:

    I think Calgary would take a chance on Howard, his play picked up at the end of season. Definitely a lot of choices to made and contracts to be signed this summer though. Hopefully sign ddk and Mrazek without breaking the bank, maybe sign at a discount to help with the datsyuk situation. I heard Justin faulk and Tyson Barrie are possibly on the trading block…definitely worth going after either of those players.

  2. fruscianteredwing Says:

    Have you ever read articles from “winging it in Motown”? I think the writers are terrible…I Just read an article that said putting mule, hank, and kronwall on ltir later in their career is an option. Mule yes but pretty sure the other 2 have to actually be injured…lol.

  3. charlieblizz Says:

    I’m not the avid net browser I used to be, and don’t make my way to wingin’ It In Motown very often (at all). I just checked out the article I think you’re referring to, though, and I think their point was more that LTIR wouldn’t be the miracle cure some people would want it to be. With the Wings outlook becoming a bit dimmer the past couple of seasons, it seems people are just panicky over being rid of these contracts that aren’t ideal, and streamlining the team to make runs at UFA or high ticket trades. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of articles, from blogs and from traditional outlets, pushing for the WIngs to try to dump the deals of everyone from Kronwall to Howard to Ericsson through nearly any means available.

    I haven’t looked around, but I’m wondering if anyone has projects for the cap for the next few years. I mean, we have roughly $16m tied up in Z, Kronwall, and Howard for the next three years ($20 million if we include Ericsson). That’s less than ideal but all of them can continue to go out and give us something every night, and not be blackholes on our roster, it’s not something that will kill us – especially if we’re serious about bringing in and relying on the young kids.

    I think Holland will explore options at moving a couple of those deals (Howard, Ericsson), but I think it’s going to be more difficult than people think to actually make them. I mean, I’d probably take a Howard for Wideman trade with Calgary, but what’s stopping Calgary from pursuing a guy like Raanta, Reimer, or Chad Johnson through free agency and either hanging onto Wideman to better their own D corp, or moving him for another piece to help up front? On top of that, one of those UFA would stand a fair chance at being cheaper than Howard strictly salary wise, too.

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