Cap Hit: $4,000,000
Expires: July 2018 (RFA)
Petr Mrazek has been outstanding at times and at other times has been not so good. With the NHL expansion draft months away, teams with multiple potential starting goalies are close to decision time to determine how they will move forward in net.
The Red Wings will leave two of Mrazek, Jimmy Howard and Jared Coreau unprotected this year in the expansion draft. The answer seemed obvious that Mrazek, being 25 and viewed as the long term starter for years to come would be protected, and Howard would have been traded or on the verge of being traded by now. However, when healthy this season Howard has been fantastic with a 1.96 goals against and a 93% save percentage. Compare that to Mrazek, who has a 3.16 goals against and a save percentage of 89%
It makes you pause, and it should.
If Mrazek is around next season, you have to assume in order to extend him there will need to be a significant investment in years and dollars, where it is clear he is your guy in net for years and years to come.
Now, if general manager Ken Holland wanted to keep both Howard and Mrazek he can protect one, and make a deal with Las Vegas general manager George McPhee with a promise he will not select the other as explained through Sportsnet. The Golden Knights could only receive draft picks and prospects.
Via Sportnet, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said; “Obviously he still can’t acquire players who are still playing the 2016-17 season, but he can acquire draft picks, he can acquire [unsigned draft choices], sign draft choices, player assets. He can start making deals associated with the expansion draft.”
These type of deals cannot start until Vegas owner Bill Foley makes the final payment on the $500 million expansion fee.
Howard is 32, does his age difference from Mrazek play a factor in the Red Wings decision? Is it too soon to give up on a 25 year old goalie who you have seen potential in? Or is his play this season the real Mrazek? All questions the Red Wings must and have no doubt already discussed.
Of course, Holland can decide to keep both through the trade deadline and leading up to the June 21st expansion draft and risk losing one for nothing, but gaining a minimum of $4 million in cap space if either Mrazek or Howard are claimed .
A key note is that Tampa Bay with Ben Bishop, and Pittsburgh with Marc-Andre Fleury, are in the same spot as Detroit in that they don’t want to lose a starting goalie for nothing. Let’s turn to Kyle Bauer for the potential return.
What could a trade for Petr Mrazek bring Detroit?
The trade market for a goaltender is always difficult to predict. Mrazek is an especially particular case because of his age and experience. To find the closest player comparison I had to go all the way back to 2010. The Montreal Canadiens had just completed stunning playoff upsets of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins with 25 year old Jaroslav Halak stealing the show. At the time, Montreal had rotated between him and 22 year old Carey Price before deciding on Halak for the stretch run. It was deemed one had to go, and to the Habs fans surprise it was Halak.
Halak went to the St.Louis Blues in exchange for two prospects, one being solid bottom-six forward Lars Eller.
Since 2010, emphasis has grown on building through the draft. I think if Holland were to trade Mrazek he would hunt for draft picks. Mrazek’s contract, age and playoff experience suggests he could immediately step in and become an affordable starter. This could net the Wings multiple picks, the highest being a third rounder. Getting prospects is a possibility, but the best move would be to continue stocking picks.
There are more recent market comparisons to look at, both involving the Kings. In 2013 Jonathan Bernier went to the Leafs for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, a second round pick and $500,000 in cap space. It was a classic Dave Nonis misfire—a trade that was immediately panned. All-star Martin Jones also went for a steep price twice; first being involved in the swap that brought Milan Lucic to the Kings, then got flipped to the Sharks for a first-round pick and a prospect. Cam Talbot was dealt from the Rangers to the Oilers for three picks including second and third rounders in the 2015 draft.
Mrazek’s draw likely wont be that high but these comparisons suggests you could get a good haul.
What teams could be interested?
Teams that immediately come to mind: Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres. I’ll also toss the Vancouver Canucks in as a wildcard since Ryan Miller is getting up there in age. Mrazek probably wont be a deadline deal but if he is, the Jets are the only team in relative contention still showing deep goaltending concerns. Both the Hurricanes and Sabres are in similar company being they’re attempting a rebuild, have some legitimate assets already in place but still fall short in net. I especially look at the Hurricanes, who are an exciting, incredibly skilled, puck moving team but 27th in team save percentage. Colorado can be put out there because they’ll likely be looking to overhaul damn near everything. Tossing their problematic (and expensive) goalie Semyon Varlamov aside could help them with a fresh start.
If Traded The Ideal Projected Deal Could be:
The Jets or any team out west would be the ideal trade partner. However, I believe the best suitor will be the Hurricanes who are in a prime and desperate position to acquire a starting goalie. They have multiple second and third round picks, I believe they’ll part with both a third rounder and a fifth, then toss in a prospect defenseman. Carolina has a well of young talent and touted prospects on defense. Holland might be going on the steep side asking for say, Jake Bean or Haydn Fleury but Trevor Carrick or Roland McKeown are a couple AHL level prospects that could fit the bill. It’s believed Noah Hanafin and Jaccob Slavin are off the table, making the other prospects more expendable.