I consider elite to be top 2-3 goalies in the league, and usually not flash in the pans either, long term success goes into being elite or else Eliot/Mason/Nemi/etc would be 'elite' because they had one or two good season then faded.
I get what you are saying.
Howard is a consistent goalie in my opinion. 4 seasons. 3 out of the 4 he's been in the top 10, or higher, in every stat....while being a workhorse. Sophomore slump year. Does anyone remember that year? He was a sub .900/ 3.00+ goalie all year...signs the contract...Bam! He's rookie Howard for the rest of the season (with a little bit better rebound control). Goes into the playoffs and plays well. He salvaged that year because he played like the Jimmy we know today the last quarter of the season (there abouts).
Makes you wonder if that was his issue all year: "Am i going to get signed? Am I trade bait?" Sign him earlier and I wonder if that second season wouldn't look so bad. But that's just an observation of mine, And something that I cannot ever prove, or we'll ever know. It's written in history now.
My point with that is, is he was more than capable that year to play like his first season...his third season and 4th season, but the contract year (and Holland holding out all season) messed with his head. When he got signed...he played like Jimmy Howard (like a top 10 goalie). No wonder he was making a big deal about it this year; not wanting it to get to his head.
It's a theory of mine...but look at the stats. It all fits.
But back to the thread at hand. He's been getting better every year. I think he peaks in about 2 more years and holds it till about 35.Typical goalie. So 6-8 isn't for fetched. Realistically? He'' probably top out at 8.