2001-02: Jimmy Howard played with the U.S. National Development program, playing in 26 games while posting a GAA of 1.89 and a save percentage of .933. He also won gold with Team USA at the U-18 World Championships, playing in six games all the while putting up a miniscule 1.33 GAA and a stingy .954 save percentage. His great performances earned him the "USA Hockey Dave Peterson Award" as Goalie of the Year given to the top goaltender in USA Hockey.
2002-03: Howard decided to continue his development with Maine of the NCAA Hockey East. As an 18-year-old freshman, Howard split time with senior Frank Doyle, despite Howard’s record-breaking shutout streak that lasted for over 187 minutes. A bad game against Russia in the world championships seemed to set Howard back for the rest of the season at Maine, although he did manage to win Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year award. This was enough for Detroit to draft Howard with the 64th pick overall.
2003-04: Howard’s sophomore season at Maine was a tumultuous period of highs and lows. 2003-04 saw Howard again splitting time with Doyle, but losing a considerable amount of time due to a freak knee injury incurred during practice. His performance on the ice was up and down, had five shutouts in the final fourteen games of the season and posted 63 saves in a 2-1, three-overtime win over Harvard, yet was pulled after allowing four goals against Massachusetts in the Hockey East finals. Howard ended the season on a bittersweet note — losing to Denver in the NCAA Championship game, despite only allowing one goal on 20 shots.
2004-05: Howard’s junior year was just as turbulent as his sophomore year as he battled mono early in the campaign. He rebounded nicely after Christmas and led the Black Bears into the NCAA playoffs with his 1.58 GAA and .940 save percentage. His Bears were eliminated again from the post season despite Howard only allowing one goal. Howard finished the season with a 1.92 GAA and .924 save percentage while amassing six shutouts in 36 games.
2006-07: He had a career-high six shutouts this season, which matched the Griffins’ single-season record and tied him for third in the AHL, thus establishing his second season with the Grand Rapids Griffins as a successful one. He tied for sixth in the league with a 49 games played, a career-high stat. He helped the Griffins with 21 wins and a 2.70 goals against average and ended up ranking fifth in the AHL with four shootout wins and 1,286 saves. He recorded back-to-back shutouts (12/31/06-2/9/07), just the fifth goalie in Grand Rapids history to do so. He also posted an impressive 1.93 goals against average during the playoffs.
2007-08: This marked the goaltenders third season with the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL). Howard sat at the top of the AHL leader boards with a career-high 54 games played (6th), 3097:11 minutes played (4th), 21 wins (T19th), two shutouts (T19TH), 1,421 saves (6th) and a .613 shootout save percentage (13th). He also calimed a spot in Grand Rapids single-season goaltending leaders in games played (4th), minutes played (4th), wins (T9th), and saves (4th) and is just the fourth goalie in the history of the franchise to snag 50 wins He was named AHL Goaltender of the Month of December after claiming a 1.72 goals against average and a .939 save percentage to earn a 7-5-1 record. On Feb. 17 he registered 30 stops for the Red Wings in a 1-0 loss at Dallas, which marked his lone NHL start since Dec. 13, 2005. He accumulated a 2.13 GAA and a .926 save percentage in four more games with the Red Wings. He played for the PlanetUSA team at the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic in Binghamton, N.Y., where he stopped 11-of-14 shots that he faced during the third period before his squad was defeated by the Canadian All-Stars in a 9-8 shootout.
Howard is a big butterfly goalie who covers the net well and plays with poise. He has very good balance and skating ability. A natural talent, Howard shows good concentration and focus while playing. He also has a well developed hockey sense and reads the play well. He is a solid stickhandler who isn't afraid of using his stick to clear the crease. He possesses very quick reflexes both with his glove hand and with his pads. Howard will need to work on his consistency as it´s his biggest downside so far. He will also have to cover the upper part of the net more effectively and increase his rebound control.