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Contract talks begin between Red Wings, Howard

Feb 15, 2013, 11:29 AM EDT

Jimmy Howard, Sergei Kostitsyn Getty Images

The Detroit Red Wings and starting netminder Jimmy Howard have begun discussions about a new deal.

Just don’t expect Howard to focus on those talks.

“It’s the furthest thing I’m thinking about,” he told MLive.com. “You don’t have time to think about it.”

Howard, 29, admitted he focused too much on his contract status two years ago — he eventually signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal — to the point where it affected his on-ice performance.

Since then, Howard has become a constant presence between the pipes for Detroit, playing in 63 games during the 2010-11 season and 57 in 2011-12.

The 29-year-old has been an absolute workhorse this season, currently tied for second in the NHL in games played (12), fifth in shots faced (345) and fourth in minutes played (707:42).

All of this begs the question — what’s Howard’s market value?

For more, here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan:

[Howard] has a career record of 116-58-21, with 11 shutouts, a 2.44 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in the regular season.

That is similar to the St. Louis Blues’ Jaroslav Halak (112-67-21, 24 shutouts, 2.42 GAA, .918 save percentage) and Anaheim Ducks’ Jonas Hiller (121-93-15, 15 shutouts, 2.56 GAA, .917 save percentage).

Halak, 27, signed a four-year, $15 million contract ($3.75 million cap hit) in 2010. Hiller, 31, signed a four-year, $18 million contract ($4.5 million cap hit) in 2010.

Khan also notes that Detroit has additional business to attend to this offseason besides Howard — Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner will both be UFAs as well, as are Dan Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White.

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