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By Jeffrey Otto
Detroit Red Wings Writer
Washington Capitals Writer
Detroit goalie Peter Mrazek on Wednesday avoided his scheduled arbitration hearing and signed a two year deal. This follows the July 6th signing of goalie Jared Coreau to a two year deal as well.
Mrazek, 24 from the Czech Republic (slated to be their goal keeper for the WCOH this September), was the Wings’ leading goalie last season in games played (54), wins (27), goals-against average (2.33), save percentage (.921) and shutouts (four). He proved to be the late-season savior in Detroit when goalie Jimmy Howard slumped and starting net duties were given to Mrazek. Since joining the Wings four years ago, Mrazek has posted a 46-30-8 record with a 2.29 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and nine shutouts in 94 regular-season games (83 starts). Not too shabby. His overall Playoff stats are 4-6 with a 1.88 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and three shutouts in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
While it’s good to have the young, up-and-comer goalie inked for at least another two year run, Detroit’s goalie “situation” persists. Jimmy Howard, last year’s presumptive starter, is bringing in a starting goalie’s wages. The Wings are lucky Mrazek signed for an average of $2 million/year instead of holding out for more (or being awarded more at arbitration). Depending on how this next season goes, Detroit could find itself in a situation similar to that of the Dallas Stars. The team formerly known as the Minnesota North Stars has a good goalie tandem in Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. This, however, is exactly their problem. Both Finns are drawing starting goalie salaries yet neither has been able to consistently produce starting goalie performances. Goalie-by-committee only tends to work in the NHL when a team is in Pittsburgh’s situation: one starting goalie drawing starting pay and the other “starting” goalie drawing entry-level contract pay. All three teams will be facing difficult decisions headed into next year’s expansion draft with regard to which goalie to protect.
For the time being, however, Hockeytown is happy to have the young Czech situated for another two years. If he can consistently maintain his performance from last year he could very well relegate Howard to the bench.