Ken Holland has found his goaltender — a familiar face from his Detroit days.
The Edmonton Oilers have inked Jimmy Howard to a two-year deal, the team announced on Friday.
“It’s taken some time to evaluate what we’ve got, but I like our goaltending tandem when healthy,” Holland said. “The key here is that you can’t pass up an opportunity to add a good veteran to the mix, and Jimmy, he’s a good veteran, a good veteran from Detroit, which is even better, so you can’t pass that up.”
The plan is for the Oilers to operate with a three-man goaltending tandem of Howard, Mike Smith, and Mikko Koskinen, which ensures that Stuart Skinner won’t be rushed into NHL action.
“It was important to find a way where we could keep Stuey down in the AHL,” Holland said. “It was getting sort of difficult to justify leaving him down there, but now we’ve got three veterans up here, one from Detroit, so Stuey can learn the pro game down there.”
“It’s about patience. We have to be patient,” Holland added.
Howard was selected by the Red Wings in the second round of the 2003 NHL draft. He made his NHL debut a few years later in 2005-06 and broke out as a full-time goaltender in 2009-10 with a season that earned him second place in Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year.
Now 38 years old, Howard hasn’t played since he posted an .882 save percentage over 27 games for the Red Wings in 2019-20. He also last played in the playoffs in 2016, appearing in two games in Detroit’s first-round series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
When asked why the team inked a 38-year-old goaltender to a two-year contract, Holland replied: “Was I supposed to get him for free?”
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