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Howard: Deal to remain a Wing is close

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Goalie - DET
RECORD: 16-12-4

GAA: 2.41 | SVP: 0.917
DETROIT Jimmy Howard is close to becoming the foundation for the Red Wings’ future.

On Thursday, the veteran goaltender confirmed that he and the organization are on the verge of finalizing a six-year contract extension that could wind up being worth a reported $5.3 million.

“It’s really, really close,” Howard said. “We’ll see. You never know. Hopefully by the end of the weekend.”

Howard said only “the little stuff” remains before the deal is settled, which will make Howard the fourth Wings’ player signed through the 2018-19 season, joining Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg.

Howard is the only goalie in team history to win at least 35 games in each of his first three seasons. He has a 16-12-4 record this year, his fourth season between the pipes. And while the 29-year-old Syracuse, N.Y., native struggled early on this season, but he’s rebounded enough to produce a 2.41 goals-against average with a .917 save percentage in 33 starts.

“Howie has worked hard and the organization has confidence in him,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It's important for us. We need good goaltending. Just how much parity there is, we need him each and every night and he's been excellent for us.”

Howard has been a workhorse since his rookie season when he became just the fourth goalie in franchise history to record 30-or-more wins in his freshmen season, joining Terry Sawchuk, Roger Crozier and Glenn Hall. Behind 37 wins and a 2.26 GAA, Howard was the runner-up to the Calder Trophy in 2010, which went to Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers.

Since then, Howard has been an All-Star and has won 126 career wins. He is just two wins shy of catching Tim Cheveldae (128), who is No. 5 all-time in franchise victories.

Howard could have become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, but he said wanted to stay in Detroit.

“I wanted to be here,” said Howard, who will start tonight in a crucial game against the San Jose Sharks. “I get along great with everyone here. I believe in this organization … It feels good, I mean I’ve worked really, really hard, paid my dues in the minors and really became a professional. To see it pay-off here shortly is a good thrill for my family and I.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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