Former University of Maine hockey All-Americans Jimmy Howard and Greg Moore are hoping they will find themselves in National Hockey League uniforms next season after re-signing with the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, respectively.
Howard signed a three-year deal worth a reported $2.15 million with the defending Stanley Cup champions and Moore inked a one-year contract with the Rangers. Terms of Moore’ s contract were not disclosed.
Both were American Hockey League All-Stars last season and each saw some playing time in the NHL.
Howard was 0-2 with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage with the Red Wings and was 21-28-0-2 (2.83 GAA, .907 save pct.) with the AHL’ s Grand Rapids Griffins.
Moore played six games for the Rangers and didn’ t register any points. He had 13 shots on goal.
Moore had a breakthrough year for Hartford in the AHL, notching 26 goals and 40 assists in 72 games after collecting just 25 points in 79 games for the Wolf Pack during 2006-2007.
“I feel really good about the contract,” said Howard. “I talked to my family and my agent [Larry Kelly] and we thought three years was the right way to go. It gives me a little job security and eases my mind a little more.”
He will have a two-way contract this season, earning $600,000 if he stays with the Red Wings and $200,000 if he plays at Grand Rapids. He will have a one-way contract in his final two years. His average salary for the three years will be $717,000.
Dominik Hasek retired, so Howard will be competing for the backup role behind Chris Osgood with recent signee Ty Conklin, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. The 32-year-old Conklin, a former University of New Hampshire star, was 18-8-0-5 with a 2.51 GAA and a .923 save percentage for Pittsburgh.
He signed a one-year deal worth $750,000.
“I figured they would do something,” said Howard. “[General manager] Kenny Holland is a smart businessman and he has to cover all the angles. He called me after they signed Conklin and told me not to get discouraged. He said they had to sign somebody and they got the best player available.”
Howard said the key for him will be “consistency in training camp.
“I’ ve got to put forth my best effort every day. That’ s the only thing I can ask from myself,” said Howard, who lives on Green Lake in Dedham and works out at the University of Maine every day.
“We’ re banking on Jimmy being one of the goalies of the future for us,” Detroit assistant GM Jim Nill said on Mlive.com. “Chris Osgood has three years left on his contract and in those three years, we expect Jimmy to push Chris for the starting job.”
Howard was the third-string goalie for the Red Wings during the Stanley Cup run and said getting a chance to hoist it “was unbelievable. It was fantastic. It was a dream come true. It’ s the first time I’ d ever seen it.”
Moore said he is hoping to “build on what I accomplished last year.
“I got myself to a different level of fitness and that definitely helped me through the course of the year,” said Moore, a Lisbon native who, like former teammate Howard, is 24.
He was encouraged by former Black Bear teammates Derek Damon and Matt Deschamps to work out with Ben Prentice in Darien, Conn., last summer and it paid dividends.
Moore, who has played both center and wing, explained that between nutritional tips and Prentice’ s workout regimen, “I got leaner and improved my strength and speed. I started the season at 209 pounds and I hadn’ t been below 210 since my sophomore or junior year in high school.
“Those things helped me get to the net a lot better. I was also able to win [more] loose pucks at the end of my shift and beat defenseman wide.”
He said getting a chance to play in six NHL games “gave me a little more confidence and experience. Now I know what to expect.
“I’ ll obviously be a lot more confident going into camp this year than I did last year because I didn’ t have a great rookie season,” added Moore, who continues to work out with Prentice.