Home > NHL, Western Conference > Jimmy Howard vs. Chris Osgood

Jimmy Howard vs. Chris Osgood

Is there really even a debate? Chris Osgood is a veteran goaltender, a 3 time Stanley Cup Champion, has won the  William M. Jennings trophy twice (once with Dominik Hasek and once with Mike Vernon), holds all kinds of records with the Redwings and is ranked amongst the top goaltenders of all time in many different categories. If this was all about Osgood, we would list them all. But its not. The fact of the matter is, Osgood’s contract is up for renewal come 2011, but so is someone else’s. The one who has stolen Osgood’s starting position, rookie netminder Jimmy Howard.

Howard was drafted by the Detroit Redwings in the 2nd round (64th overall) in the 2003 entry draft. Before beginning his rookie season with the Redwings, Howard played for the University of Maine, setting both team and league records. When he graduated, he began his pro career in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins, again setting more records both personal and franchise. He was called up to the Wings on multiple occasions between 2005 and 2008 but never enough to be considered a rookie. When the Wings decided not to extend a new contract to veteran Ty Conklin prior to the 2009 season, Howard was called up to be Osgood’s permanent back up.

Or is it the other way around? Osgood has only played 22 out of the 75 games this year, the last being a relief for Howard against Vancouver fresh off the Olympic break. Since then Howard has gone 10-1-1 leaving Osgood to warm the bench. Howard is only 3 games away from tying the franchise record for most consecutive starts by a rookie goaltender. A record that hasn’t been touched since the 1967-1968 season.

Calder trophy candidate? You bet. The Wings are currently in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are finally healthy again and reminding the hockey world just who they are and what they can do.  Howard has had a lot to do with that. He has by far the most wins as a rookie goaltender and is second to his biggest rookie goaltending competitor, Tuukka Rask, for the Calder in goals against. You’ve got people talking about John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Tyler Myers, but don’t count out Howard. Last years Calder winner was a goaltender, and it very well could be this year too.

And what exactly does this mean for Osgood? Both netminders have one more year remaining on their contracts after this season. With Osgood’s age, he’ll be almost 39 going into the 2011-2012 season, he could chose to retire. If not, the Wings could either extend his contract, or he could look for employment elsewhere. There are plenty of teams in the market for a great veteran to back up their rising stars. At the same time, he’s still a spectacular goaltender and has spent the majority of his career with Detroit. If they choose to keep him, it will most likely be as a backup. It doesn’t look like we will be seeing him back at the starting position again, unless Howard starts to make a lot of mistakes.

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