Steve Yzerman: Detroit Red Wings won’t keep Jimmy Howard, will sign free agent goalie

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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Jimmy Howard’s tenure with the only NHL team he has known has come to an end.

It wasn’t unexpected, given how he struggled last season, but Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman made it official during a video call Thursday.

“We will be looking in the free agent market for a goaltender,” Yzerman said. “I’ve spoken with Jimmy Howard, we are not going to offer him a contract prior to the free agency period.”

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Howard, 36, won two games last year out of 27 starts. He was pulled his final two games before the season shut down because of COVID-19 on March 12. He posted a .882 save percentage and 4.20 goals-against average. 

A second-round, 34th overall pick in 2003, Howard went 246-196-70 with a career save percentage of .912 and GAA of 2.62. He was runner-up in voting for the Calder Trophy in 2010 and was an All-Star as recently as 2019.

Jonathan Bernier enters next season as the presumptive no. 1, but there’s a stellar selection of goaltenders headed for free agency including Braden Holtby, Anton Khudobin, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss, Cam Talbot and, recently bought-out former Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

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Since taking over as GM in April 2019, Yzerman has forged a conservative, low-risk path, signing or trading for veterans on short-term contracts. 

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that made the Detroit Red Wings will be published in October by Triumph Books. To preorder, go to Amazon.

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