Custance’s take on Jimmy Howard’s trade value leaves out one detail: how the Wings might scrape by without #35

The Athletic’s Craig Custance took note of Jimmy Howard’s presence at the Red Wings’ unveiling of a “play space” at Children’s Hospital in Detroit on Wednesday, and Custance chose to mark the occasion by wondering aloud whether the Wings might want to move Howard in the final season of his contract:

Part of the appeal is an expiring contract. Goalies are such a risk that finding a starter without term remaining on his deal is an alluring asset. In 176 games over the course of the last four seasons, Howard has a .912 save percentage that is slightly below the league average but consistently in that range. With Howard, you know what you’re getting and that’s something. Down the stretch this season, he was often the only reason the Red Wings were competitive in games, part of the reason fans were rightly upset he was still getting starts in the final weeks on a team that needed better lottery odds more than it needed points in the standings.

The other part of Howard’s appeal is a weak free-agent market for goalies. The Coyotes removed the most intriguing name from consideration by signing Antti Raanta to a three-year contract worth $12.75 million. Carter Hutton had a good year for St. Louis, finishing with a .931 save percentage in 26 starts, but he’s played 40 games only once in his career. Jonathan Bernier may have saved Colorado’s season with stretches of strong play, but he also really likes it there. It wouldn’t be surprising if he stayed with the Avalanche.

Custance continues (paywall), and my question regarding this thought experiment is pretty simple: if the Red Wings trade Howard, who would the Wings use as their starting goaltender?

As much as I think Jared Coreau is a fine athlete and good fellow, he hasn’t proved himself ready; Tom McCollum’s ceiling may or may not be limited to the AHL, and Matej Machovsky’s decision to go home to the Czech Republic left the Wings in a bit of a bind because none of their other prospects–Filip Larsson, Kaden Fulcher, Keith Petruzzelli and Joren van Pottelberghe–aren’t anywhere near NHL-ready.

It’s arguable that the Wings could string together enough wins to be mediocre with one of the free agent back-ups out there, but I don’t see the team trading Howard unless it’s able to replace him immediately. That would take a 1-for-1 deal of some sort, and if we’re talking about the Islanders, Jarslav Halak and Thomas Greiss aren’t upgrades over Howard.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

16 thoughts on “Custance’s take on Jimmy Howard’s trade value leaves out one detail: how the Wings might scrape by without #35”

  1. There are no starting goalies on the FA market.
    This organization refuses to outright tank.
    They want to be competitive.
    So you keep Howie.

    They will probably also value loyalty and keep him on with an extension, hopefully for less money if they do so.

    And part of that is a refusal to trade any type of valuable pieces to bring in a starter.

    Most Cup winning teams draft/develop their goalies. They become the starter through their system (i.e. Tuuka Rask was drafted by Toronto, but developed in Boston). So my guess is they keep Howie until a young guy is ready. And hopefully they don’t fall to poop like one Petr Mrazek.

    1. In fact, looking at the remaining starting goalies in the playoffs:

      Penguins – Murray (Drafted)
      Capitals – Holtby (Drafted)
      Sharks – Jones (Trade)
      Vegas – Fleury (Drafted, technically!) 🙂
      Jets – Hellebuyck (Drafted)
      Predators – Rinne (Drafted)
      Bruins – Rask (Covered above)
      Lightning – Vasilevskiy (Drafted)

    2. Kings, blackhawks, penguins all won multiple cups with drafted goalies. makes sense for the cap era! The only hole in this is Niemi, who was undrafted and signed by the hawks.

        1. I’d say Jimmy and Niemi are pretty much the same goalie….statistically speaking, of course.

      1. JS Giguere may be a hole, too. But it’s not meant to be perfect. We’re looking at 10/12 since the cap era, and likely 11/13 this year. With an asterisk if it’s Vegas.

        1. I’m not sure why the cap becomes a line in the sand. So before the cap it was practical to trade for Roy, Vernon, Hasek, etc…but now that we have a cap that doesn’t work anymore? Why not? Who cares whether you draft Rinne or Holtby and pay them $6-7M or whether you trade for Jones or Fleury and pay them $6-7M. It’s the same allocation of the cap.

          Then you can get into the error of omission. So the Rangers drafted and developed Lundquist….where did that get them? How many Cups has Carey Price delivered to Montreal? Did Columbus make a bad trade in acquiring Bobrovsky – maybe they won’t win a Cup until they develop their own guy? See my point? I think whether you draft or acquire isn’t that important. It’s more important that you have excellent goaltending at an appropriate cap hit. Who cares how they arrived to your roster.

  2. I think a lot of people, both fans and media, are reaching the wrong conclusion on the availability of good goalies, particularly for a rebuilding team. You can’t just go to CapFriendly…view the poor UFA options…and then conclude that the pickings are slim. You have to understand the dynamics of each organization!

    Which RFAs have arb rights that can command a big payraise and price themselves out of a job, thus prompting the team to trade them and find a more cost-effective replacement? One obvious answer is Grubauer. His stats will support a huge payraise on his $2.25M. The Caps can’t keep both him and Holtby. So Grubauer can likely be acquired for a modest price. He’s a huge upgrade on Jimmy Howard, and 8 years younger too.

    Then you have organizations with a glut of goalies that will likely need to make a trade to make room. Philly has Elliott and Neuvirth under contract, but also young RFAs like Stolarz and Lyon, with phenom Carter Hart a couple years behind them. Watch for them to trade 1 or 2 goalies at the draft. Toronto is sitting on Calvin Pickard in the minors. He might be a nice back-up with some upside to challenge for a #1. Also 8 years younger than Howard.

    What if the Blues commit to Hutton and shop Jake Allen?

    The Jets need to PAY Hellebuyck and are stuck with Mason so can you pick up Hutchinson for cheap?

    We already have rumours of two KHL goalies coming over to take jobs.

    So the game of musical chairs is on. Lots of guys can match Howard’s mediocre stats, while also offering some potential to improve. A tandem of say Grubauer-Pickard is a lot better than Howard-Coreau. Is there an all-star UFA to bid on – well no. But that’s not what we need.

  3. Wings are more than likely not making the playoffs with Howie. If the return for him is good pull the trigger. More Cap Space, Howie is on the down slope, etc.

    Who knows, Wings might be better with a younger pair of Goalies? It is a Rebuild right?

    Sorry George

  4. The wings have taken steps to make themselves worse in the short run in the hopes of getting better in the long run. They will probably be worse next year than they were this year (particularly before they pulled the cord). Losing Jimmy would mean a commitment to the tank for a full year. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a bad idea, as they have far more holes than one good draft year and a few drafted graduates can fill.

  5. So 3 of the 8 goalies were acquired via trade. And if the Leafs would have won last night then we’d add Freddie Anderson to the list. A couple of years ago I believe 4 of the final 8 goalies were acquired via trade. Go back further and you have guys like Roy, Vernon, Hasek winning Cups after being acquired via trade.

    So I’m not really convinced that the winning recipe to competing for the Cup is that you MUST draft and develop your own goalie. You could back over the last couple of decades and count how many successful teams had drafted and developed their own 1C or 1D. It’s actually a higher percentage than goaltenders. Yet it’s become a bit of an urban legend that you need to develop your own goalie.

    1. agreed. Here’s Fatty pointing out the exceptions while not adding much to the conversation and still alienating people.

      1. Please stop. In my opinion, attacking other commenters is still attacking other commenters, even if you feel that you have a good reason for doing so.

        Goading FS isn’t going to stop him from commenting–only I can do that, and if I have to cut somebody out of this community, I’ll have to consider cutting out everybody who behaves inappropriately, even if it’s with cause.

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