Mrazek will start off the season as Jimmy Howard‘s back-up while Gustavsson recovers from injury, but if Mrazek holds his own in the NHL and stays healthy, Gustavsson could be in a lot of trouble.
Ken Holland realizes that Mrazek is not like most goaltenders, he does not need to be seasoned for long in the AHL and he can contribute to the Detroit Red Wings right away.
The only reason Mrazek was in the ECHL and AHL last season is because they did not know how much time he needed to develop to be ready to play in the NHL. Because of that the Red Wings brought in Gustavsson, a proven NHL commodity, in as the back-up for Howard, but while Gustavsson faltered last season, Mrazek shined bright.
Mrazek graduated from the ECHL to the AHL, where he took over the starting goaltender gig, and played a couple solid games in the NHL to give Howard a rest. When Mrazek returned to the AHL, he helped lead the Griffins to the playoffs and then to the Calder Cup finals; Tomas Tatar received the Calder Cup MVP Trophy, but it could have easily gone to Mrazek.
Now Mrazek has a chance to be a full-time NHL goaltender for at least a month, but he will fight to keep it for the rest of the season and if he makes a good case it could happen. Gustavsson is in the last year of his deal and Mrazek is slated to take over for him next season, but if he takes over sooner it would be a good thing for the team and Mrazek.
Plus, if Gustavsson is sent to Grand Rapids instead of Mrazek, the Red Wings would actually save $110,000 on the salary cap and if Gustavsson is picked up off of waivers, they would save $710,000.
Gustavsson looked improved from last season during training camp, but staying healthy is part of the job and that has been an issue for him; Mrazek on the other hand, did not miss a game due to injury last season.
Mrazek will most likely be sent down to Grand Rapids once Gustavsson is healthy enough to fulfill his role as the Red Wings’ back-up, because he will play more games with the Griffins than he will with the Red Wings.
But the Red Wings are looking at anyway they can have a better team this season though and if Mrazek plays well enough to beat out Gustavsson to earn the spot, then I expect him to stay in Detroit.
Do you think Petr Mrazek has a chance at holding onto the back-up job in Detroit?