After a flurry of off-season moves signing free agents, re-signing role players, and reshaping the coaching staff, the Detroit Red Wings and goaltender Petr Mrazek have finally come to terms on a two-year deal worth $8 million.
Mrazek has signed a two year deal. $3.85 and $4.15
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 27, 2016
The $4 million AAV is a substantial increase from his previous $737,500 cap hit from a one-year deal he signed in 2014 that kicked in after his entry-level contract expired in the summer of 2015. The Red Wings now have over $9 million tied up in two goaltenders, with Jimmy Howard‘s days likely numbered.
Petr Mrazek Signs
Entering his age-24 season, Mrazek got his first taste of the NHL starting load this season, making 49 starts, 23 more than ’14-15 when he won the job late in the campaign. For his first go around he revealed flashes of future brilliance, winning 27 games while maintaining a .921 save percentage, .929 at even strength. At his best, the save percentage rose to .932 through his first 38 appearances with Mrazek allowing two or less goals 27 times in that span, including an eight-game streak to close out January. Through the stretch, he posted three shutouts.
Over his last 15 games before a lone April appearance however, he came back to earth and struggled after his 24th birthday, giving up three or more goals eight times in that span while posting a .882 save percentage, losing the playoff starting job to Howard in a role reversal from the end of last season. After two losses in Tampa, Mrazek started the last three games and performed admirably to the tune of a .945 save percentage allowing four goals in three games posting his third shutout against the Lightning in ten playoff starts against them. Detroit could only supply him with four goals of their own losing in five games.
What it Means
Undoubtedly, Mrazek will be Detroit’s number one goaltender going forward but will need more support from his defenders and forwards to play more low-stress hockey. At times last year, it felt like the fate of the team rode on the 23-year old’s shoulders as he carried them through their marathon of more than 50 one-goal games. It’s good to see the former 5th round pick’s poise in high-intensity situations representing that of a veteran, but taking a little bit of pressure off would do wonders. As for Howard and his $5.3 cap hit over three more seasons, it looks like the team will be going with the 1A-1B system again as both goalies battle for the starting spot in training camp.
Currently $4.2 million over the salary cap, the Wings have some flexibility with the CBA’s rule that states that any club can exceed the cap by 10% of its current ceiling. So, since the ceiling is $73 million, the Wings have $7.3 million in flexibility until the last day of training camp. The team has LTIR options in Johan Franzen ($3.95 million AAV) and Joe Vitale ($1.1 million AAV), and could even deal a player or two to set the roster for this coming season. With the rest of the summer to sort it out and an overflow of forwards (16 signed), it’s fair to expect a trade to go along with LTIR. Of what magnitude? Time will tell.