The Red Wings have filed for salary arbitration with Mrazek, a restricted free agent, Ansar Khan of MLive reports. Mrazek received a qualifying offer from the Wings in late June, but evidently the negotiation process has drawn out longer than expected. The 24-year-old backstop made $737,500 last season and is said to be ready to claim the lion's share of the starts in 2016-17. Of course, Jimmy Howard is set to make $5.29 million next season and presumably would need to be moved in order for Detroit to stay under the salary cap. We'd be surprised if Mrazek, who went 27-16-6 with a 2.33 GAA and .921 save percentage last season, is still without a new contract by the time arbitration hearings begin July 20 (and last until August 4).
Mrazek received a qualifying offer Monday from Detroit, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. At the beginning of the season, Mrazek split time with fellow netminder Jimmy Howard, however by the end of the year, the starting job was firmly Mrazek's. The qualifying offer is more of a formality as the Wings will want to lock up the 24-year-old long-term. With a 27-16-6 record and a .921 save percentage, the goaltender is a solid fantasy option looking ahead to the 2016-17 campaign.
The Red Wings are leaning toward hiring Jeff Salajko, who was Mrazek's goalie coach with AHL Grand Rapids, the Detroit News reports, adding that this could lead to the end of fellow goalie Jimmy Howard's tenure in Detroit. Mrazek could be in store for a big season if he does, in fact, reunite with his former goalie coach. The Slovakian puck stopper posted 31 wins along with a 2.08 GAA for the AHL's Griffins between 2013-15. Mrazek shouldn't be faulted for the Red Wings losing to the Lightning in the playoffs this year. He posted a 1.35 GAA through three games in that series, but the Winged Wheel was flat offensively with just eight goals through five contests. Mrazek will be a restricted free agent this summer, but he's largely expected to get a contract renewal. Keep an eye on what happens to Howard, as Mrazek could see a dramatic spike in playing time without the veteran breathing down his neck next season.
Mrazek saved 23 of 24 shots in Game 5's 1-0 loss to the Lightning, which ends Detroit's playoff run. Mrazek followed up his shutout in Game 3 with two straight losses, although the netminder almost pulled this one out. It was a late-game mistake from the Czech that essentially ended Detroit's hopes -- the 24-year-old left his crease and couldn't get back in time to stop the contest's only goal. In three appearances in the playoffs, Mrazek recorded a 1.33 GAA and .956 save percentage, but his offense just couldn't get it done against Ben Bishop.
Mrazek will be the starter for Thursday's Game 5 against Tampa Bay, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. Mrazek hasn't been phenomenal the last two games, but he's outplayed Jimmy Howard enough to get another shot. He has the potential to steal games, and will need to perform at a high level to even get Detroit to a Game 6 with how much the Red Wings are struggling on the power play and penalty kill right now.
Last 7 Games
|3 Year Avg||13||6||5||0||718||27||2||2.26||0||70.2|