The Red Wings showed how much they valued goaltender Jimmy Howard by not dealing him at the trade deadline.
Now, they’re solidifying their decision by keeping Howard for another season.
Howard, who turns 35 on March 26, has signed a one-year contract extension, the Wings announced on Wednesday.
The contract is worth $4 million, with Howard having the opportunity to earn another $1.1 million if the Wings make the playoffs. The contract does not include a no-trade clause.
Howard is ending a six-year contract this season, with a salary cap hit of $5.3 million per year. But as the trade deadline approached in late February, Howard made no secret about his preference of staying in Detroit for the rest of his career, rather than going anywhere as a rental for the playoffs..
After defeating the New York Rangers, 3-2, on Tuesday, with Howard making 41 saves, Howard was thrilled talking about staying with the Wings another season and likely eventually ending his career in Detroit.
“It means a lot,” Howard told reporters in New York after the victory. “This is the only organization I know. I love playing for the Wings, my family loves living in Detroit.
“It’s very special.”
Howard is 19-20-5 this season with a 3.05 goals-against average and .908 save percentage, making the All-Star game for the third time in his career.
Howard told reporters he’s comfortable with the one-year contract, as the Wings can continue to evaluate the veteran goaltender year-to-year.
Keeping Howard was important, as the Wings only have backup Jonathan Bernier (who has two years left on his contract), and no goaltender immediately ready for the NHL in the minor leagues.
“It totally makes sense to me,” said Howard of the one-year deal. “I’ll turn 35 here in a week and from there on out I’m fine with one-year contracts.”
Tuesday’s dominance of the Rangers was the latest chapter in Howard’s career against one of his home state’s team.
Howard, who was born in Syracuse, is 10-3-3 in his career against the Rangers.
“I don’t know what it is, I just enjoy playing here,” Howard said. “This is, I think, the greatest building in the world. It’s Madison Square Garden. Whenever you can come in here and play, and play well, for me being from New York, it’s really special.”