During the month of September, we will profile New Faces in New Places from around the NHL. We now look at Hurricanes’ goaltender Petr Mrazek. He filled in while Brian Elliott was injured in Philadelphia but has battled inconsistency most of his career. Can he help stabilize the net in Carolina?
2017-18 Stats: 14-13-6 with four shutouts, 3.03 goals-against and .902 save percentage combined between Detroit and Philadelphia.
2018-19 Team: Carolina Hurricanes.
How Acquired: Signed a 1-year deal worth $1.5 million on July 1, 2018.
Expected Place in Lineup: Backup to Scott Darling.
Ah yes, the Carolina Hurricanes. They are the sleeper pick of many year in and year out because of the upside much of the team brings. But every year, we find ourselves talking about the same narrative. They lack consistent goaltending.
Here we are again. Cam Ward is gone after 13 seasons with the club. Scott Darling had perhaps one of the worst seasons a starter could have. The Hurricanes needed to address the goaltending. I’m just not sure their first plan was to go after Petr Mrazek. But they did. They had no choice after Philipp Grubauer ended up in Colorado.
The goaltending narrative will only intensify this season. If the Hurricanes can’t get a better season out of Mrazek or Darling, you could be looking at a season or promise and upside fade away into the abyss of an over three goals-against average. Is there hope in this situation?
The problem with the goaltending has been their consistency. There were stretches of really good coupled with ugly. The result is an average goaltender.
Mrazek went from Detroit to Philadelphia to cover for the Brian Elliott injury. While he showed some flashes, he finished the season with a goals-against over three. His numbers actually got worse in Philadelphia. He went from a .910 to an .891 and from a 2.89 to a 3.22. That’s when the games mattered in the standings for playoff positioning.
Now if there is good news, it is a low-risk deal. So even if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t cost them much in the long-run. If it does work and Mrazek finds consistency, that’s the huge boost Carolina needs. Maybe it wakes Darling up too. Either way, the path to the playoffs in Carolina goes through the goaltending. Can Mrazek answer the bell when called upon?
What Others Have Said
“That’s where the Hurricanes are: hoping Darling can get back in some kind of shape, mentally and physically, where he can at least resemble an NHL goaltender once in a while, and hoping Mrazek, only 26, can hit the heights he hit three years ago with the Detroit Red Wings and not stumble along with a .901 save percentage like the past two years, although even that would be an improvement on Darling last year.” –Raleigh News and Observer
“Mrázek’s time in Philadelphia was spotty. He still had the reputation of someone who could rise to the level of being a team’s starter, but, not unlike Darling of the Hurricanes, has not been able thus far to carry that mantle.” –Mark Shiver/The Hockey Writers
“The Carolina Hurricanes need to ensure that Scott Darling is both challenged and also confident in his role as the starting goaltender. They also need to ensure a good starter in the case that anything happens to Darling. Petr Mrazek can deliver all that and a little more. He’s extremely talented but hasn’t put it all together yet. Mrazek could do that in Carolina.” –Puck Prose
“Petr Mrazek was signed for a bargain basement $1.5 million and with an ultra low risk one-year deal. The upside is that the deal eats up pretty much minimal budget and cannot be a negative past the end of the 2018-19 season. So the deal rates incredibly high for avoiding long-term financial risks.” –Canes & Coffee
“Petr Mrazek is a phenomenal goalie when his game is on. The trouble Carolina Hurricanes fans will encounter is having patience with him. In recent seasons, he’s allowed his disappointment in his own game affect how he executes. However, given time he will be able to rediscover the A-level goaltender he was while in his AHL and early NHL seasons.” –Rachel Anderson/The Hockey Writers
“There’s no denying Mrazek’s raw talent – his powerful lateral movement and lightning quick reflexes are enviable in the goaltending community. But a lack consistency and inability to adapt his game have plagued the netminder over the past couple of seasons. A fresh start in Carolina behind the Hurricanes’ rock-solid defense may be what Mrazek needs to find his dominant form.” –Tony Wolak/The Hockey Writers
2018-19 Season Stats Prediction
I see about 35 games for Mrazek this season. This depends on the performance of Darling and if they deal with injuries. A lot of this will depend on how well the defense does in front of them. Unless I see it on the ice, we pretty much know what we’re getting here. It makes for a bumpy ride.
- 17-15-3 with a 2.90 goals-against and .909 save percentage.