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What About Detroit’s Goaltenders?

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press answered a few Twitter questions today.

The first one regarding the Wings goaltending...

Jimmy Howard did have a career year, albeit cut short by injury, as his .927 save percentage ranked second among NHL goalies with at least 25 games and his 2.10 goals-against ranked third overall. Petr Mrazek, on the other hand, finished with a career-worst .901 save percentage and 3.04 goals-against average. Mrazek’s performance disappointed the Wings all the more after he was declared the starter last summer, and his goaltending coach from the minors, Jeff Salajko, was promoted to the Detroit job.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman did not find much of a market as he sought to trade Ben Bishop in February, settling for an offer from the Los Angeles Kings. Part of the problem is a limited market for goaltending. Calgary needs one. So does Winnipeg. So does Dallas, but first the Stars would have to rid themselves of one of their two overpriced goalies on the roster.

It falls to Wings general manager Ken Holland to explore a trade. As good as his numbers were, Howard is 33 and has two years left on a contract with a $5.3 million salary cap hit. As mediocre as Mrazek’s numbers were, he is 25, and has one year left on his contract at $4 million. Mrazek might have some trade value – and he should especially intrigue the Stars, where general manager Jim Nill and director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell both have history with Mrazek.

If a trade does not materialize, the Wings may expose both on the waiver draft. To further complicate matters, Jared Coreau is no longer waiver exempt.

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You give Howard away for anything or nothing.  His value is the removal of his money from the salary cap.  You do not give up on a 25 year old goalie who has proven to be a solid NHL goaltender, at worst.  Coreau should not even be in the conversation.  He isn’t good and he never will be.

Posted by jb61973 on 04/19/17 at 02:31 PM ET

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If a trade does not materialize, the Wings may expose both on the waiver draft.

Both? That would a strange decision.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 03:20 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

If a trade does not materialize, the Wings may expose both on the waiver draft.

It was my understanding that every team has to protect one goalie. Or at least there is one protection slot that has to be a goalie and by not using it they’re just giving it up. Of course, Vegas can only take one player from each team, so we wouldn’t lose both of them that way in any case.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/19/17 at 03:22 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/19/17 at 03:22 PM ET

She’s implying that they could protect Jared Coreau

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/19/17 at 03:23 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

She’s implying that they could protect Jared Coreau

Do they need to protect Coreau?

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/19/17 at 03:26 PM ET

Primis's avatar

You give Howard away for anything or nothing.  His value is the removal of his money from the salary cap.  You do not give up on a 25 year old goalie who has proven to be a solid NHL goaltender, at worst.

You’re obviously not talking about Mrazek then, because at worst he’s not “solid”, as you say.  At “worse”, he’s definitely less than solid”, we’ve seen that.

This is the big problem.  Mrazek’s swings are a bit extreme to call him anything but a serious gamble.

There is nothing obvious about the choice between Howard or Mrazek at this point.  That’s the hwole problem.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/17 at 03:27 PM ET

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Actually, I would say that at his worst, Petr has proven to be a terrible goalie. 3.04 and .901 are horrible numbers for a goalie. At his best, Petr has also proven to be a fantastic goalie. I’m not saying to give up on him either, but he made this decision much harder by having an awful year during a time he had a chance to grab a stranglehold on the number one goalie position for now and the future. He needs to display more consistency…I still like the idea of keeping both of them.

Petr then gets another year to prove whether or not he really is the future. If he’s not, Howard is a good fallback, and we avoid giving out another big goalie contract to Petr next spring/summer. Keeping Howard also provides the added benefit of keeping cap space tied up so that Holland doesn’t use it to give out another ludicrous deal in free agency. If Petr were to falter again next year, Howard would be in the final year of his deal the following year, and we’d have more time to figure out what to do.

disclaimer: Keeping salary cap is obviously not how the team should have to operate, but at this point with KH in charge, I’m pretty scared of how he might blow the cap space on some awful new deal in the event that Howard is traded. If he can be traded and that space is used responsibly, this would be the best choice.

Posted by Brilith Ruin on 04/19/17 at 03:28 PM ET

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You do not give up on a 25 year old goalie who has proven to be a solid NHL goaltender, at worst.

But you do give up on a veteran who is demonstrably better than the 25 year old and in fact was #3 in GAA and #2 in save percentage?

The only thing Mrazek has shown to be better than Howard at is not having his own player tackle an opponent on top of him.

Mrazek is apparently the more tradeable one of the two, so I say get what you can for him and stick with the much, much better goalie.

Both? That would a strange decision.

More or less strange than keeping around a coach who has proven over the course of two years that he has no business being in the NHL?  More or less strange than giving a vote of confidence to your GM who has slowly been strangling the organization to death?  More or less strange than giving out the contracts that Abdelkader and Helm got?

No stupid, idiotic idea about what this organization might do seems strange to me.

If there was a rumour that Holland was actually going to do something to benefit the team, THAT would be a strange decision to me.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 04/19/17 at 03:29 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

Both? That would a strange decision.

Yeah, what is Helene talking about? The only reason I can think of for doing this is that you’re sparing the feelings of one of your goalies by not revealing who is more important to protect. If you do this, you better be sure Vegas isn’t claiming either.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 04/19/17 at 03:32 PM ET

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There is nothing obvious about the choice between Howard or Mrazek at this point.

Health. No doubt that Howard was a better goaltender this season, but there is also little doubt he will miss 20-25 games due to injury in each of the next 2 seasons. Mrazek still have potential to be our #1 goalie, he’s been better in the last part of the season, so I see hope with him. Plus he is only singed for one more year. You can see what he does next year and then decide. It’s too much risk to give him to LV and see him become a top 10 goalie in the league.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 03:32 PM ET

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I would think the chances of LV taking Mrazek if left unprotected are about 50%-75% depending on who will be the other goalies to choose from. The chances of them taking Howard (especially considering he will be the only Red Wing they take) are really in 5% range imo.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 03:36 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Leaving both exposed ensure’s one of their cap hits goes away. If he can’t trade them, it might be the only way to get rid of one. 

I would not consider be too considered with Howard on the injury front, given that we would presumably have Jared behind him, especially given that the knee injury was a result of his own man basically flopping on him with his leg pinned behind him, not a pulled groin or whatever.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/19/17 at 03:39 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 03:36 PM ET

Disagree, I think Howard would be extremely attractive for them, veteran stable presence in net, they have zero cap space to start, and he’s only signed for two years, becomes a tradeable asset next year considering they would have no issue eating the cap space or taking a bad expiring deal in return to juice their side of the deal.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/19/17 at 03:42 PM ET

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there is also little doubt he will miss 20-25 games due to injury in each of the next 2 seasons.

What are you basing that on?  The way I see it, he’s never had a chronic injury, each of them have been freak happenings.  I mean, do you think it’s predictable that Ben Street is going to tackle someone on top of Howard again?  That doesn’t seem like a repeating injury.

Plus he is only singed for one more year.

So if you trade Howard and keep Mrazek but Mrazek doesn’t work out, you have zero NHL goalies.

The chances of them taking Howard (especially considering he will be the only Red Wing they take) are really in 5% range imo.

You really think they would rather start with a goalie who is the very definition of both mediocrity and inconsistency over a goalie was in the top five this year in GAA and save percentage?

In your opinion, is Las Vegas already planning on tanking for next year’s lottery?!?

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 04/19/17 at 03:42 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

Leaving both exposed ensure’s one of their cap hits goes away. If he can’t trade them, it might be the only way to get rid of one. 

I find it very unlikely that even KH couldn’t get something in return for Mrazek.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 04/19/17 at 03:47 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Expansion Draft Protected List Rules (from NHL.com)

* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

Can’t expose both Howard and Mrazek. Coreau cannot to be picked by Vegas.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/19/17 at 03:52 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

I looked that up too just to make sure, but I think “wish” is the key word here. I don’t think teams are forced to protect anyone.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 04/19/17 at 03:59 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/19/17 at 03:52 PM ET

Jared Coreau has 3 professional seasons under his belt in Grand Rapids, he’s no longer an unsigned free agent.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/19/17 at 04:00 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I have never understood the complaints about Howard’s cap hit. He’s 16th paid in goalies with some very similar out worse goalies ahead of him. If he’d pitched a shut out in his last game he would have had the top GAA and associated award.

Meanwhile Mrazek is going to be getting 4$ but putting up numbers which should relegate him to grand rapids. HE is the goalie whose cap hit I’m concerned about - both now and going forward.

But if I’m Holland I try to sign Petr to a4 year deal immediately based of last year’sperformance.

Posted by TreKronor on 04/19/17 at 04:00 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

I find it very unlikely that even KH couldn’t get something in return for Mrazek.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 04/19/17 at 03:47 PM ET

I do as well, but what if the return was a just prospect of the caliber of Oulette, or a 5th or 6th round pick? Putting Mrazek out there might protect in house talent, especially if they want to keep Jimmy and Jarred.  With Bishop and Fluery out there, might be a tough goalie market, Mrazek did not do himself any favors last two years.  Not saying I agree this at all, just saying its not crazy to think that might happen.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/19/17 at 04:03 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Posted by MurrayChadwick

Jared Coreau has 3 professional seasons under his belt in Grand Rapids, he’s no longer an unsigned free agent.

Guess I read “professional” as being “NHL”, but it makes sense that GR is “professional”. Wonder if ECHL counts toward that, also.

Posted by hockeyfreak13

I looked that up too just to make sure, but I think “wish” is the key word here. I don’t think teams are forced to protect anyone.

I guess they don’t technically *have* to protect either, but that seems like a bad idea, even just optically. That’s telling both of your established NHL goaltenders that you’re not much interested in keeping either of them. Seems better to make a choice and live with it.

I’ll be interested to see the Wings’s protected list and see who would be more likely to be picked than a goaltender. Also curious how much GMs will talk to each other about who they’re protecting or not. Ie, if PIT protects Murray, is KH more likely to protect Mrazek?

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/19/17 at 04:08 PM ET

SnarkinLarkin's avatar

Expansion Draft Protected List Rules (from NHL.com)

* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

More HSJ nonsense. The Wings would be insane to protect both goalies. Think about it. To do that they have to go with the Eight skaters option… and then use 2 of those for the goalies leaving 6 forwards/defensemen they can protect versus 10 forwards/defensemen and 1 goalie with the first option.

Unless there aren’t more than 6 forwards/defensemen worth protecting (and some on here might argue that) it makes zero sense to follow HSJ’s hypothesis.

Posted by SnarkinLarkin on 04/19/17 at 04:18 PM ET

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I expect that Mrazek will be protected. I also expect that Howard will not be taken by LV. I expect Holland will not trade either one. The tandem for the inaugural LCA season will be Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. That is my guess.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 04/19/17 at 04:36 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Not sure either Jimmy, or razor are going to be the goalie for the wings as this R.O.T.F. (rebuild on the fly) moves forward.

If Vegas is silly enough to grab either (assuming they are exposed??) that helps us out, but I don’t think that happens.

I think finding a goalie is much easier than other positions.

If the boys are gonna kinda suck for a another season, then I say suck with someone cheaper than Jimmy. Also, please Kenny…NO huge offers to Peter for 6 years..

If they could find a taker for Howard’s $$$$, I think for a season or two, Ryan Miller would be a fairly cheap starter, and might be willing to take a discount to be close to family?? I believe his contract in Vancouver is expiring….


I think goaltending is not the biggest concern for this team.

Posted by Down River Dan on 04/19/17 at 04:37 PM ET

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there is also little doubt he will miss 20-25 games due to injury in each of the next 2 seasons.

What are you basing that on? 

I am basing it on the fact Howard missed a lot of time due to injuries in each of the last 2-3 seasons. And at the age of 33 I do not see him becoming healthier.

You really think they would rather start with a goalie who is the very definition of both mediocrity and inconsistency over a goalie was in the top five this year in GAA and save percentage?

I disagree with this take on Mrazek. He had a terrible season, but he also was phenomenal for good stretches in the past including playoffs against TB under Babcock when many thought we have our Corey Price in the making. Mrazek is 25, so there is a chance he will return to that form. As to Howard, I already said that this year he was a better goalie, but I do not see it sustainable as we have a history of him being an average goalie in the past and this last year was an exception rather than the rule. And let’s not forget in the last 3-4 games of the season “old” Howard was back. If I am starting a new franchise, I am going with a young goalie with a higher ceiling. For leadership, I will take some forwards and dmen.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 04:38 PM ET

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I think goaltending is not the biggest concern for this team.

I agree, especially because we have no goaltenders signed for more than the next 2 years.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 04:44 PM ET

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Not sure why HSJ thinks Calgary needs a goalie either. Elliott started slow but was pretty damn good second half and just started a new deal post trade.

Posted by easmus on 04/19/17 at 04:56 PM ET

Shanny_Fan's avatar

The odds of Vegas taking any of the wings goalies really depends on what happens with Fleury and Bishop before the expansion draft. I wouldn’t be too upset if Vegas took either wings goalie because that would mean that they don’t take one of our young deffensemen (likely Oulette, Sproul, or Jensen if KH is an idiot). If you trade a goalie for a bag of pucks then it becomes a bit of a no brainer that Vegas takes a young d-man from Detroit as I don’t expect that they would have huge interest in guys like Helm, Sheahan, or Nosek who are projected to be our best unprotected forwards.

Posted by Shanny_Fan on 04/19/17 at 05:16 PM ET

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Not sure why HSJ thinks Calgary needs a goalie either. Elliott started slow but was pretty damn good second half and just started a new deal post trade.

Elliott had a great second half, but has looked kind of like dog doo in Calgary’s first three playoff games, and they now find themselves down 3-0 in the series and facing elimination tonight. They were up 4-1 in game 3 at home and managed to lose 5-4. Elliott was not good, and I rarely put a lot of blame on a goalie. He doesn’t have a new deal yet. His contract will be over after this season. I believe if Calgary re-signs him St. Louis gets an additional pick from them as well. That will be interesting to keep an eye on in the off season.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 04/19/17 at 05:25 PM ET

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—-Jensen if KH is an idiot
—-I am still torn if Jensen is better than XO

Posted by VPalmer on 04/19/17 at 05:25 PM ET

Shanny_Fan's avatar

—-Jensen if KH is an idiot
—-I am still torn if Jensen is better than XO

I prefer Jensen over XO mainly because he has that great ability to skate the puck out of trouble, which none of the other wings d-men seem to do with any regularity. He could turn out to be that mythical “puck moving d-man” that everyone is always looking for, albiet more likely a 2nd pair guy down the road. But I hear you, Jensen’s sample size with the big club is still super small and XO has played a very well for stretches.

Would you guys rather the wings lose Howard/Razor or XO in the expansion draft?

Posted by Shanny_Fan on 04/19/17 at 06:14 PM ET

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Mrazek gets protected, Howard stays, RW have three goalies and have to get rid of one (or eat the roster spot until one gets injured).

Posted by neffernin on 04/19/17 at 06:31 PM ET

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>Would you guys rather the wings lose Howard/Razor or XO in the expansion draft?

Howard, XO, Mrazek

I suspect it will be XO or Jensen to go though (if Jensen even qualifies).  Then again, Howard has always been above average goalie.

I’m a bit torn as to whether Howard or Mrazek is a better goalie (a year ago I would have said Mrazek), but I think longer-term Mrazek is the better gamble of the two. 

I imagine next year will be make or break for Mrazek as he bombed this year and 2 years bombing = no more NHL career for goalies these days.  Also is a contract year.  The scary alternative is he puts up Howard-esque numbers this next year, gets a 5 year, then proceeds to keep Detroit in the basement.

Posted by neffernin on 04/19/17 at 06:42 PM ET

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HSJ her articles and opinions have proved that more often than not. For instance her Coreau obsession is a prime example. His AHL stats are great but his NHL stats not so much and he’s the same age as Mrazek. His stats were considerably worse than Mrazek and way worse than Howard this year. Why protect him over the other 2? That’d be ludicrous.

Mrazek’s numbers have been good minus this year. Howard has had some bad years and quite injury prone but he’s also had some great years. He’s(Howard) is very inconsistent…hmmm just like the rest of the team. He could just as easily put up a bleh year vs a good year next season. Personally, I don’t see how you don’t protect Mrazek. One bad year doesnt define a player, if it did Howard never should’ve been signed to the contract he has and is as “mediocre” as Mrazek

https://www.nhl.com/player/jimmy-howard-8470657

https://www.nhl.com/player/petr-mrazek-8475852

Posted by benzanato on 04/19/17 at 08:35 PM ET

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Cut my first sentence off. Should’ve been HSJ is an idiot, her articles and opinions have proven that more often than not.

Posted by benzanato on 04/19/17 at 08:37 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

I expect that Mrazek will be protected. I also expect that Howard will not be taken by LV. I expect Holland will not trade either one. The tandem for the inaugural LCA season will be Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. That is my guess.

It does make the most sense. With Fleury (sp) and Bishop potentially being available. it’s doubtful Vegas takes either Red Wing goal tender. confused

Posted by bigfrog on 04/19/17 at 08:49 PM ET

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I would keep Howard, numbers too good, I also like Mrazek but would leave.him unprotected. Both can do the job, look at the.shootouts. Mrazek’s big problem in games is too many rebounds. That seems to be more of a problem than misplaying the puck.

Posted by stateofmifan on 04/20/17 at 01:43 AM ET

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I still think Sheahan if left unprotected is the likelier take than the D.  As much as we need those guys, they are all mediocre Dmen…. if thats who we lose, we’re only crying because our D is THAT bad.  None of those guys are young any more, they aren’t going to get THAT much better.  They are all useful, some have different sklll sets than the others.  If it’s me, I keep Jensen over XO ONLY because Jensen is a better skater and it’s a skating league more and more. 

Posted by DieByTheWing on 04/20/17 at 08:20 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

This is no question. Your protect Razr.

For all the complaining that has been done (and for my part, I have done a bit) about losing a player for nothing, Mrazek’s ceiling is too high to lose for nothing. Howard is a known quantity, injured too often, and had an aberration of a season at 30+ years of age.

You stick with Petr - do or die.

Posted by ilovehomers on 04/20/17 at 08:37 AM ET

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My first reaction was “Huh” to not protecting both goalies.  It’s worse now.  St. James really gives no reason for why in the world you would not protect one.  Go for the top draft choice next year?  Arrgghhh!  Yes you could only lose one, but why?  Coupled with her recent grades on the Wings she clearly sees stuff that you and I don’t.  Mrazek’s bad goals were mostly on long to medium shots, not close in.  Could his problem be positioning or reading the play moreover.  Can this be solved?  If it can you keep him.  If not expose and keep Howard.  Many of the Wings losses can be traced in large part to the awful goaltending we saw.

Posted by Wisconsindale on 04/20/17 at 10:10 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

 

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