The Detroit Red Wings have placed goaltender Jimmy Howard on long-term injured reserve for the purpose of assigning him to the Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning. The 35-year-old hasn’t played since a November 27th loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The organization announced the move early Tuesday morning.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 17, 2019
Jimmy Howard on IR, Will Condition with Grand Rapids
The 2019-20 campaign has been the toughest season of his career. He is sporting a dreadful .887 save percentage and 3.94 goals-against-average. Those are the worst numbers of his 14-year career that has seen 246 wins and two top-10 finishes in the Vezina Award race. It is a shame that one of the best North American goalies in league history is suffering such a poor season.
Howard has been bad this year but it is hard to separate his performance from his team’s. Detroit is near the bottom of almost every measurable category. They give almost no offensive support no matter which goalie is in the net. All four goalies used this year have a save percentage and goals-against that is worse than the league average. Howard is merely the victim of a terrible team that currently has the best odds for the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
What This Means for the Future
Playing for Grand Rapids will be good for Howard. The Griffins are already tied for last in their division so there won’t be much pressure to win games. The AHL team will allow him to help some of Detroit’s top prospects including Moritz Seider gain some extra insight into what works at the NHL level.
Also, we’ll see if this assignment helps Howard land a new home by the trade deadline. He is in the final year of his contract and is unlikely to return to Detroit for next year. None of his numbers indicate a turnaround, but a better defence could be what the veteran needs.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. (Getty Images)