With the trade deadline approaching, we will be profiling several players in the weeks ahead that have a good chance to be dealt by February 26th.
After a particularly rough 2016-17 season, the Red Wings were hoping that goaltender Petr Mrazek would bounce back to the level of play from the year before that, one that saw him become a quality NHL starter. That hasn’t happened and as a result, he has been involved in trade speculation nearly all season long and those talks should only intensify over the next three weeks leading up to deadline day.
Mrazek is in the final year of a two-year, $8MM deal. He is due a qualifying offer of $4.15MM (his current salary) in June.
The start of the season saw the 25-year-old put up even worse numbers than he did last season, notching a GAA of 3.64 with a .892 SV% through the first three months of the year and as a result, he found himself squarely behind Jimmy Howard on the pecking order.
Things started to turn for him in January, however. Following a loss to the Lightning where he allowed five goals, Mrazek allowed just six goals total in his last six appearances (five starts) and has started to shoulder more of the workload.
Despite that, there is still a legitimate question about whether he will have done enough to warrant receiving a qualifying offer in the summer. As a result, there’s a case to be made that he will not only to be looking to reclaim the starting job down the stretch but that he will be also trying to showcase himself for prospective suitors if he is let go.
18 GP, 7-5-2 record, 2.74 GAA, .914 SV%, 3 SO
Unlike forwards or defensemen, the trade market for goaltenders is a lot more limited but there are still some potential fits. The Islanders have had their own share of goalie woes this season and are tumbling down the Metropolitan Division as a result. They could conceivably look at Mrazek’s hot streak and view him as a short-term upgrade on their current tandem. I also wouldn’t rule out Pittsburgh depending on what else the Penguins are (or aren’t) able to do as they may want to have some experienced insurance behind Matt Murray.
In the West, Mrazek could represent a fallback option if the Sharks decide to part with their potential top trade chip in netminder Aaron Dell to add help up front before the deadline. They have the cap room to take his contract on without any concern. Chicago has less of a need now that Corey Crawford appears likely to return but if the Red Wings are willing to retain on his contract, he could still represent an upgrade as their backup if the Blackhawks are looking to make a playoff push.
Likelihood Of A Trade
This will come down to how much GM Ken Holland is looking for in a return. If the asking price is around where it was believed to be earlier in the season (a mid-round draft pick) with them being willing to retain on his contract if necessary, there is a decent chance that he will move despite there being a pretty limited goalie market overall. However, if they look to leverage his current stretch of games into a higher return, that may be enough to turn teams looking for depth between the pipes in other directions.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.