Petr Mrazek and the Detroit Red Wings will be headed to salary arbitration Wednesday if they can’t reach a deal in advance of that hearing. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, there’s a large gulf to bridge, though not one so wide it can’t be handled.
He says Mrazek is looking for $10 million over two years ($5 million and $5 million), while the team’s pre-arbitration offer is $5.85 million over two years ($2.7 million and $3.15 million).
The 24-year-old netminder made $737,000 last season, so, either way, he’s in for a hefty raise. He appears to be in line to be the team’s starter, as he was much of last season, but pockets of brilliance have been marred by collapses, like when he was replaced by Jimmy Howard down the stretch last year. Mrazek was pulled in five of 14 starts in February and March. That came on the heels of an incredible run in January where he posted a .952 save percentage while going 7-1-1.
— Petr Mrazek (@pmrazek34) February 28, 2016
While Howard isn’t what he once was, he does provide a roadblock to Mrazek getting paid. Howard is under contract for another three seasons with a cap hit of $5,291,666 million. That cap situation, in conjunction with not having seen him carry a team for a full season, makes it tough to pay Mrazek his asking price.
As Ken Holland told MLive.com, there aren’t many comparables for Mrazek and it makes it tough to put up too much money for him. “There’s way more comparables, I think, in Dan DeKeyser’s case so it was easier to figure out what was the marketplace,” Holland said. “That’s certainly not the case of Petr Mrazek’s situation. So we’ve had lots of conversations about them explaining their position and (us) explaining our position.”
Nonetheless, Mrazek has been excellent for stretches. In 54 games last season he posted a .921 save percentage and a .921 even-strength save percentage, which ranked eighth among all NHL goaltenders.
The team has just $3,269,625 in cap space according to General Fanager, but they will also likely have the ability to put John Franzen’s $3.9 million on long-term injured reserve, making it possible to put both Mrazek and DeKeyser on new deals.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.