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Detroit Red Wings Player Preview: Petr Mrazek

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Will this be a bounce back year for Mrazek?

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Player Profile

Born: February 14, 1992 (Age 25)

Height, Weight: 6’2”, 183 lbs

Position: Goalie

Contract: 1 years remaining, AAV $4 million (UFA in 2018)

Player Stats

Games Played: 50

Wins: 18

Losses: 21

OT: 9

GAA: 3.04

Sv%: .901

SO: 1

Last Season

Last season was a frustrating one for Mrazek as he performed well below our expectations and did not build upon his successful 2015-16 campaign.

The 2015-16 season saw him steal the starting goaltender position from Jimmy Howard and cement himself as the goalie of the future. With 54 starts, 27 wins, 4 shutouts , 2.33 GAA and a .921 save percentage, Mrazek was sitting pretty as one of the better goalies in the league.

His dominance fueled rumours that Howard was going to be shipped out as the Wings were all in with Mrazek.

Anyone remember this quote?

Ken Holland told Hockey Central at Noon Thursday, “Mrazek has become the No. 1 guy here. Whenever we need Howie, he’s going to go in and do a good job for us.” | Sportsnet

Well…..the 2016-17 season was an entirely different story. While many of us expected Mrazek to pick up where he left off, he unfortunately struggled in the beginning of the season and never rallied back, essentially handing the starter job back to Howard.

Mrazek’s 2016-17 campaign was really, really bad. Literally among the worst for a starting goaltender. His Sv% took a dip to .901, well below his career average of .913, his GAA swelled to 3.04 and he won half as many games. Understandably, some of the blame for this also lies with the extremely underwhelming Red Wings team in front of him, but nonetheless, it was not good.

To make matters worse and more confusing, the Red Wings chose to expose Mrazek to the expansion draft for the Las Vegas Golden Knights and protect Howard. This move spoke volumes about where the Wings stood on Mrazek. Throughout the week, many different hockey writers began to speculate what fuelled this move. One of the reasons that emerged is Mrazek’s alleged attitude problem and sense of entitlement.

Mrazek was not happy the Red Wings were unable to trade Howard in the off-season and let the club know in less-than-tactful terms.

Mrazek has always had a swagger and air of confidence, which appealed to the Red Wings. But sometimes he's too cocky for his own good, some in the organization believe. He became increasingly difficult to coach last season, they said. | MLive

If this is true, then Mrazek was probably quite humbled last season and that may be a good thing as the Red Wings have little tolerance for big egos.

Looking Forward

Last season’s events could fuel him to buckle down and work towards becoming the quality goaltender we still believe he is, or it could sour his relationship with the organization and make him less open to coaching. I hope it’s the first scenario because I think he’s still a great player and although he didn’t have a good season, he is young and has a lot of upside.

Mrazek having a bounce back year would be the best outcome for the Red Wings. They have lacked reliable goaltending as Howard has been injury prone over the last few seasons and is getting older. Although Jared Coreau has made some appearances for the Red Wings, many are not convinced that he can be the goalie of the future.

It’s pretty safe to say that Mrazek will not be the Red Wings’ starting goaltender at the beginning of this season. I don’t even know if he will be our goaltender by the end of the season. Anything can happen in 2017-18, so stay tuned!