Last summer, it was considered a flyer when the Carolina Hurricanes inked netminder Petr Mrazek to a one-year, $1.5-million deal. This summer, the Hurricanes are paying up to keep him around, signing him to a two-year pact that will reportedly pay him $3.125 million per season.
Carolina’s decision to bring Mrazek back – and do so at a reasonable price, no less – is really no surprise, and Hurricanes GM Don Waddell hadn’t made a secret of the fact that he had hoped to bring one or both of his goaltending tandem back into the fold after their success this past season. With Curtis McElhinney, who split time with Mrazek in the Hurricanes crease throughout 2018-19, off to the Tampa Bay Lightning, that left one option for Carolina. Frankly, it was the better option, too.
While McElhinney’s story is one of late-career success and he’s somewhat of a fan favorite, Mrazek was the superior of the two goaltenders last season. The eye test and base statistics, not to mention Mrazek’s late-season run, suggest as much, but the underlying numbers spell it out in big, bold letters.
There are 43 goaltenders who played at least 1,500 minutes at 5-on-5 last season, and of those keepers, Mrazek ranked eighth with a .931 save percentage and sixth with an .863 SP against high-danger shots. Not only that, but per 60 minutes spent in the crease, Mrazek finished with a goals saved above average of .31. That’s in line with Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy and the sixth-best mark if you limit the field to keepers who played at least 1,900 minutes at five-a-side. By comparison, McElhinney had respective marks of .921, .831 and .04.
The added upside here is that Mrazek, 27, still has some upside and was once considered the heir to the Red Wings’ crease before his tenure in Detroit went sideways. If he’s finally starting to meet his potential, this two-year pact could turn into a long-term relationship between the two sides.
(All advanced statistics via NaturalStatTrick)
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