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- Average Time On Ice: 59:40
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Mrazek's fresh off a humbling campaign that featured career-worst ratios (a 3.04 GAA and .901 save percentage) over 44 starts and 50 total appearances. The Czech backstop had driven a hard bargain with the Red Wings as a restricted free agent, ultimately settling on a two-year, $8 million contract extension to avoid arbitration. Mrazek was a fantasy liability through the first four months of the season, as he often hovered too far outside the blue paint. Nonetheless, despite moving him to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, the Wings kept the fiery tender busy thanks to Jimmy Howard sustaining a groin injury and then a sprained MCL. The Golden Knights plucked forward prospect Tomas Nosek from the Wings in the expansion draft, leaving Mrazek on the books as a pricey backup with a career record of 64-51-17 to go along with a 2.56 GAA, .913 save percentage and 10 shutouts. Detroit has plenty of youth on the blue line, and neither Howard nor 2017 Calder Cup-winning netminder Jared Coreau figure to go away quietly, so it could be another long year for Mrazek. Draft accordingly.
Mrazek initially looked great in a timeshare with Jimmy Howard last season, having recorded a 24-11-6 record, 2.10 GAA and .927 percentage in his first 43 games … and then March began. Mrazek struggled in the final two months and watched Howard pick up most of the starts heading into the postseason, only to reclaim the job in the first-round series against the Lightning. However, the Red Wings have since promoted goalie boss Jeff Salajko – he coached Mrazek in AHL Grand Rapids between 2013-15 – leaving the Czech primed to take a huge leap forward in the upcoming campaign. To be elite, though, he’s going to need much more help offensively. Last season, the Wings ranked 23rd in the league in goals per game, and the power play was anemic in the playoffs. Expect Howard to get a share of starts if he stays put, but Mrazek is the goalie of the future for the Winged Wheel and thus has major fantasy appeal heading into 2016-17.
Mrazek seized the reins in goal for Detroit last year while Jimmy Howard struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, earning the nod in the net for every game of Detroit's first-round playoff loss to the Lightning. With a .920 save mark and 2.23 GAA over his 40 games (34 starts) at the NHL level, Mrazek's proven himself to be more than capable, and he enters training camp this year in a battle for playing time with Howard. While Howard's contract and longevity in the Detroit organization are working against him, the young Czech certainly made a statement with his play last year. He should be expected to at the very minimum achieve a timeshare, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Mrazek end up starting about 50 games for the Wings this season. If he does, look out.
Mrazek went 2-4 in nine games with the Wings in 2013-14, but put up a 1.74 goals against average in that span. He also had another stellar season in Grand Rapids, with a 22-9-1 record and 2.10 GAA. He was likely hoping Jonas Gustavsson would not be re-signed so Mrazek would have a shot at the backup spot in Detroit, but that will have to wait at least another year. Barring any major injuries, Mrazek will likely serve in the AHL for the majority of the year.
Mrazek had a good couple games with Detroit in 2012-13, but his most important work came in backstopping the Griffins to the Calder Cup. Mrazek will likely be invited to camp in the fall to compete with Jonas Gustavsson for the backup job and is, in all likelihood, his long-term successor.