Goaltender will not return for his senior season
"Howard had an outstanding collegiate career," said Nill. "We expect him to come into camp battling for the No. 3 position. He's a strong prospect and we look forward to having him in our organization for many years."
Howard (21, 6-0, 220) was drafted by Detroit in the second round (64th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He played the last three seasons for the University of Maine where he appeared in 82 career games, posting a 1.84 goals against average and a .931 save percentage along with a school record 15 shutouts en route to a 47-23-10 record.
"Naturally I am disappointed that Jimmy will not be back with our team this season, but I am also very proud of Jim and excited for his future with Detroit," said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead.
"I have been dreaming of playing in the National Hockey League all of my life, and to get one step closer to that goal is special," said Howard. "I really enjoyed my three years at Maine. Playing in front of the greatest fans in college hockey is something that I will never forget. It has been a priviledge to wear the Maine sweater. I wish all my teammates the best this season."
Last season Howard played in 39 games with a 1.97 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He posted six shutouts on the season, including four against Hockey East opponents, giving him a conference record nine career shutouts.
He was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week four times and Hockey East Goalie of the Month in January. Following the season he earned Hockey East Honorable Mention honors.