Petr Mrazek has been getting a lot of blame this season for his poor play. While it is true that he has not played very well this season, Mrazek is better than a lot of people give him credit. I still fully believe that he is the future of the organization in goal. With the way the Red Wings defense has played this season, there is only so much a goalie can do. From bad shifts to careless turnovers in their zone, the Red Wings defense has not been something to write home about. It is unrealistic to ask a goalie to stop 30-plus shots a game every single night.
Mrazek’s personal performance this season has not bad all bad. Mrazek has made some pretty spectacular saves this season, there is no denying that. His biggest issues this season have probably been his aggressiveness when playing the puck and giving up rebounds. In the 2014 season, when Mrazek was called up for an injured Jimmy Howard, he did not play overly aggressive. Don’t get me wrong, he still played aggressive, just not as much as he has this season. Over the 29 games that Mrazek appeared in (starting 26 of those games) in 2014, he had a 2.38 goals against average (GAA), a .918 save percentage and three shutouts. All of which are pretty solid numbers for a young goalie new to the NHL.
During the 2015 season, Mrazek and Howard split playing time throughout most of the season. Mrazek started 49 games in 2015 in which he had a 2.33 GAA, a .921 save percentage and four shutouts. In both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Mrazek did not struggle as much with rebounds or overly aggressive puck handling which means if he can get that under control after the 2016 season here, that he has an incredibly high ceiling of potential.
Mrazek is still young. He will only be 25 later this month so it is not like he is on the downside of his career. His career is only getting started. His youth is exactly what the organization needs in goal because Howard is now 32 and has consistently dealt with various injuries throughout his career. Due to his injuries, I think it is unpredictable as to what anyone should expect from an aging Howard. Jared Coreau is still young as well and I think he will make a fine backup for Mrazek. Maybe Mrazek and Coreau will split starting duties one day. They both have the talent to do so.
One down year for Mrazek is not the way to base how the rest of his career will go. In the two seasons prior this season, Mrazek has played like every bit of a number one goalie that the Red Wings can build around. He brings youth to the table which is what the Red Wings need right now. Mrazek has a bright future ahead of him and hopefully the Red Wings’ organization realizes that.