Sunday, September 10, 2017

Jimmy Howard Dual Jersey Card

This summer, the Detroit Red Wings surprised a good number of onlookers and pundits by protecting Jimmy Howard and offering Petr Mrazek as bait for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft; Vegas ended up plucking Tomas Nosek from the Wings instead, after the Pittsburgh Penguins added a draft pick to entice them to pick Marc-André Fleury.

We now know that it had much to do with Mrazek not being a good team player, having requested Howard be traded despite not performing well enough to be slotted as the #1 goalie himself.

But what of the merits of Howard? Hasn't be been on a straight decline ever since he signed his extension in 2013? Not exactly.

He has been injured quite a few times and hasn't suited up in 60 games or more since 2010-11, but part of that is also linked with platooning with Mrazek, who'd been groomed to be the Wings' next #1 since the day he was drafted.

Injuries notwithstanding, Howard has had a GAA below 2.50 in five of his eight full seasons in the NHL, and below 2.30 in four; his save percentage was below the .910 mark in just two of those, and he finished with GAAs of 2.79 and 2.80 those two years as well, including in 2010-11, when a .908 save percentage was near the average for an NHL starter.

Last season, before missing three months with a sprained knee, he ranked in the top-3 for wins, save percentage and GAA; he finished with a 2.10 GAA and .927 save percentage, because the Team USA alumnus's skill set has his well-equipped to deal with the current trend of players shooting from any angle to boost their Corsi rankings. He didn't finish twice in Vezina top-10 voting for naught.

Now, I'm not saying I'd pick him in the first round of my office pool, nor that he's become one of the 15 best in the world*, but if Carey Price is worth $10.5M per year, having the $5.9M Howard in net is a decent value and bang for your buck. Unless, of course, you factor in Marc-André Fleury at $5.75M, Ben Bishop at $4.917, or Braden Holtby at $6.1M...

Here he is sporting the Wings' white (now-away) uniform, on card #TS-JH from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Artifacts set and Treasured Swatches sub-set:
It features two game-worn jersey swatches.

*For the record, my top-15 this year would read: Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky, Cam Talbot, Devan Dubnyk, Matt Murray, Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford, Price, Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask, Fleury, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Robin Lehner, Martin Jones, and Henrik Lundqvist (out of respect for his past and for when he's on, such as in last year's playoffs). I think the Vezina nods will go to Bishop (winner), Dubnyk, and Talbot.

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