Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, left, makes a save against the Minnesota Wild during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, in St. Paul, Minn. Wild\'s Brent Burns (8) looks on. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a two-year, $4.5 million deal Monday.
Detroit didn't want him to become a free agent this summer and he was content with the contract offered by the storied franchise.
"We drafted him, developed him and have watched him become an NHL goalie that was good enough to be the runner-up for rookie of the year last season," general manager Ken Holland said. "He's a workhorse who you can put in net night after night.
"He'll win over 70 games in two years for us and at the age of 27, we think he's coming into his prime."
Howard leads the NHL in victories, entering Monday night's game on the road against the Los Angeles Kings with a 30-12-3 record. He was 37-15-10 last season in his first year as Detroit's No. 1 goalie.
Howard is giving up 2.79 goals a game and his save percentage is .908 after having a 2.26 goals-against average last season and a .924 save percentage.
Detroit drafted him in the second round of the 2003 NHL draft after he starred for three seasons at Maine and gave him time to develop with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.
The native of Ogdensburg, N.Y., was eligible to possible cash in on his success on the open market in July, but chose to stay in Detroit.
"We talked in December and after going back and forth, we decided we'd get a deal done now or wait until the summer to talk again," Holland said.
The Red Wings didn't plan to acquire a player from another team before Monday's trade deadline.
"We like our team," Holland said. "We made the conscious decision last summer to spend almost all of our cap space and I think that has helped us win some games because we had the depth in place to help us compete even when we had some injuries.
"If we're playing our best hockey at the right time, I like our chances."