Devan Dubnyk

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Which teams should trade for Red Wings’ Petr Mrazek?

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The Detroit Red Wings raised eyebrows when they protected Jimmy Howard in the expansion draft instead of Petr Mrazek, and things haven’t really turned around since then. Rumors are starting to swirl that a seemingly inevitable split might be brewing in the form of a trade.

The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports (sub required) that teams are calling the Red Wings – though not “banging down the door” – regarding Mrazek, and Custance reasonably asserts that Detroit should play him a bit more to try to raise his standing.

If you consider how much Mrazek’s reputation has slid, Custance’s opinion can really only be denied by a franchise that … is in complete denial?

Mrazek, 2012-13 to 2015-16, 94 games played (via NHL.com): 46-30-8,  nine shutouts, .920 save percentage.

Mrazek, 2016-17 and 2017-18, 60 games played (also via NHL.com): 20-25-10, two shutouts, .899 save percentage.

Quite a disparity between Good/Early Mrazek and Bad/Recent Mrazek, eh?

Things get more interesting when you note that TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that, given the right offer, the Red Wings would be willing to retain salary with Mrazek. That’s crucial with Mrazek carrying a $4M cap hit heading into restricted free agency. Custance reports that Mrazek might cost a suitor a third-round pick, although salary retention might bump the asking price to a second-rounder.

Rather than ruminating on the Red Wings’ poor handling of Mrazek/unwillingness to truly embrace a rebuild, it would be more fun to picture the most enticing or interesting destinations for the puzzling puck-stopper.

Please note that these aren’t confirmed potential destinations, this is just for entertainment purposes. For the record, the Red Wings would be foolish to let Mrazek walk for nothing, even if they don’t get quite the level of draft pick they’re reportedly hoping for.

Feel free to add in other teams that would make sense to you and/or the respective GMs.

Penguins

Right now, the Penguins have approximately $670K cap space and Cap Friendly projects their trade deadline space at $3.1M, so this would likely be a retention situation.

If any team understands the value of having a Plan B in net, it’s the Penguins. Now, Tristan Jarry‘s been quite proficient (.919 save percentage), but with Pittsburgh in win-now mode for the near future, it might be worth bringing in Mrazek as insurance for Matt Murray. Both of the Pens’ runs required two goalies to shoulder the burden, after all.

There’s reason to believe that the Czech netminder could be a good stylistic fit, too, as his athleticism may come in handy for a team that can be a bit, um, leaky in the defensive end.

[More on Penguins: why a spark may come from within.]

Coyotes

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Arizona.

Perhaps the Coyotes still believe in Antti Raanta, yet this season hasn’t gone well, in part because the former Rangers backup suffered some unfortunate injuries. Even if they do, the Coyotes might see some logic in getting a few months to look at Mrazek, possibly setting the stage for an ideally cheap platoon of Raanta – Mrazek?

Custance describes Mrazek as a rental, in part because of the nature of his contract. Even so, what if the Coyotes got some time with him, liked what they saw, and then simply convinced him to take less than $4M per year with an extension? Stranger things have happened, and the Coyotes could use all the help they can get.

Mrazek also tends to get love from “fancy stats” folks on occasion, and Coyotes GM John Chayka sometimes gets lumped in with such methods of thinking. So maybe he’s eyeballing Mrazek as we ponder hypothetical teams.

Wild

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is under a lot of pressure as he’s reportedly needing a new contract, and now occasional-meal-ticket Devan Dubnyk is considered week-to-week. Money is tight in Minnesota, but even with a winning streak in mind, they likely want a little help beyond Alex Stalock.

Really, management might see some parallels between Dubnyk and Mrazek. Both goalies quietly put up nice numbers on shaky teams, only to see things fall apart. Dubnyk revitalized his career; maybe Mrazek could do that in helping Minny secure a playoff spot?

Theoretically, the Wild might just need Mrazek the most.

Flyers/Avalanche

OK, this entry’s a little bit stranger, but hear me out.

The Avalanche might not see Semyon Varlamov as their future in net, while the two-headed, two-year-contract monster of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth is a work in progress in Philly.

So, what if one or two of these rebuilding/in-between franchises wants to test things out with Mrazek? Maybe the Red Wings could earn a better return in taking on Varlamov or one of those Philly goalies, even though they’re signed through 2018-19.

(In the case of Neuvirth/Elliott, their salaries might not even be much of an issue as slightly expensive backups if Detroit finally cleans house, or merely begins to clean house.)

Much like with the Coyotes, these teams would likely be most interested in deciding if Mrazek could be a part of the future. We’ve seen Flyers GM Ron Hextall take on Steve Mason in a similar situation as a reclamation project, and that worked out quite well, at least at first.

(Philly’s current winning streak would probably put such thoughts on the backburner, but still.)

[More on Flyers’ and Elliott’s hot run.]

Oilers

Look, I had to mention the Oilers, as you can’t picture trades without at least penciling a token Peter Chiarelli groaner.

There’s at least some logic to the prospect of Edmonton nabbing Mrazek, too.

Cam Talbot‘s struggling mightily, and with his $4.167M cap hit expiring after 2018-19, he’s not necessarily guaranteed to be Edmonton’s guy any longer. Especially since Edmonton needs to make every buck count after doing the opposite for so many years.

What if Mrazek could get hot and save Edmonton’s season, or at least give Talbot time to get things together? Surely that’s worth (checks notes) way too much? Uh oh, someone take the phone away from Chia …

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Gaborik scores twice, including his 400th NHL goal in win

Marian Gaborik has taken his talents coast to coast over his National Hockey League career, but he found most of his scoring success as a member of the Minnesota Wild.

So it was a tad fitting that Gaborik would reach the 400-goal milestone against his former club, scoring twice in a 5-2 win for the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday to extend L.A.’s winning streak to six games.

Gaborik initiated a four-goal third period for the Kings, who trailed 2-1 after two frames, scoring No. 399 to tie the game 2-2 in the first five minutes of the period. No. 400 came roughly 10 minutes later as Gaborik was the beneficiary of a Kings faceoff win and buried the milestone mark past Devan Dubnyk.

Neither team could find the back of the night on a combined 19 first-period shots, but the floodgates started to crack in the second.

The Wild grabbed the first goal, with Charlie Coyle getting his stick on a centring pass.

Jake Muzzin tied the game with a blistering slap shot after Drew Doughty found his defense partner in space at the top of the left circle.

Minnesota regained the lead just over a minute later, with Tyler Ennis whacking the puck past Jonathan Quick.

But it was Gaborik’s night, and he wouldn’t be denied in the third.

After he tied the game, Adrian Kempe‘s centering pass went off the skate of Jonas Brodin and behind Dubnyk for the Kings’ first lead of the game.

After Gaborik scored his 400th, Anze Kopitar potted his 15th of the season to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games. Kopitar also had two helpers in the game, giving him 500 in his NHL career.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Wild at Los Angeles Kings

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Wild

Granlund – Koivu – Zucker

Niederreiter – Staal – Foligno

Winnik – Coyle – Stewart

Ennis – Cullen – Mitchell

Suter – Dumba

Brodin – Murphy

Reilly – Prosser

Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers visit surging Penguins; Wild meet streaking Kings

Kings

Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown

Pearson – Shore – Toffoli

Gaborik – Kempe – Lewis

Jokinen – Mitchell – Brodzinski

Muzzin – Doughty

MacDermid – Martinez

Forbort -Folin

Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers visit surging Penguins; Wild meet streaking Kings

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Tuesday night as the New York Rangers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins 7:30 p.m. ET and the Los Angeles Kings host the Minnesota Wild at 10 pm ET. You can stream the Rangers-Penguins game by clicking here and the Wild-Kings game here.

Remember when Sidney Crosby was struggling? You know, struggling by Crosby standards. One goal in 15 games a month ago has now turned into six goals and 13 points in Pittsburgh’s last six games.

“Throughout that, there were some games where you feel like you had a ton and could’ve had two or three,” he said via the Post-Gazette. “Then there were other games where there wasn’t much going on. The consistency part of the game is the biggest thing, and I think it’s been there for the last few weeks. As long as the chances are there, you know it’s going to go in.”

[Pittsburgh Penguins are rolling]

Crosby will look to keep his scoring surge going against a Rangers team that’s been better defensively, but probably still remembers a sluggish October game where they couldn’t put the Penguins away and ended up losing in overtime.

Out west, the Kings are riding a five-game winning streak and face a Wild team looking for consistency. Both have won six of their last 10 games, but it’s LA sitting comfortably in a playoff spot atop the Pacific Division while Minnesota tries to reverse a start that sees them just on the outside through 26 games.

[Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have the Kings back on top]

The Kings are scoring, as Jon Rosen pointed out, and are up half a goal per game this season than they were a year ago. That’s impressive considering Jeff Carter has been out since the middle of October. As Adam Gretz noted yesterday, LA is a team full of bounce-back seasons. Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are all playing great hockey. That’s being buoyed by youngsters stepping in and producing, like Adrian Kempe (9 goals, 16 points) and Alex Iafallo (9 points).

Minnesota allows 32.5 shots per game, so the Kings will get their opportunities — they’ll just have to find a way to beat Devan Dubnyk, who is coming off one of his best games of the season with a 41-save performance during a win over the St. Louis Blues.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Let’s go deep on Flyers’ 10-game losing streak

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When fans are booing you out of the building and management is straining to defend you, things can start to get out of hand.

The Philadelphia Flyers will either end their current 10-game losing streak or see it go to 11 games on Monday as they take on the Flames in Calgary. PHT will monitor that contest, but in the meantime, it might be entertaining, informative, and yes, a bit frustrating to see how the wheels came off.

Will there be some themes to this 10-game skid? Yes, it seems there will be.

Games 1 and 2: Shutout losses to the Wild (1-0 at home on Nov. 11; 3-0 in Minnesota on Nov. 14)

For Wild fans, Devan Dubnyk‘s shutout streak probably feels pretty distant right now. Still, his hot run really cooled off the Flyers, as Dubnyk stopped 32 and 30 shots for those goose eggs.

[More on Dubnyk’s hot streak here.]

Game 3: 3-2 shootout loss to the Jets.

One theme, at least early on, of this losing streak is blown leads. In the case of this contest against Winnipeg, the trio of Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux helped the Flyers build a 2-0 lead through the first period, with that second tally coming about five minutes into the opening frame.

The Jets’ second goal really had to sting, as Mark Scheifele sent the contest into overtime with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

Game 4: Flames 5, Flyers 4 (OT).

Another game where a substantial first-period lead eventually dissolved into a defeat.

In this case, Philly went up 1-0 and then 3-1 in the opening frame. Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and the Flames turned the game on its head in the second period, which included Monahan’s first NHL hat trick:

Game 5: Canucks win 5-2.

The Flyers scored first in this one, but that lead only lasted for 1:12 before things quickly went off the rails. Brock Boeser scored twice and Daniel Sedin had a rare strong night during a fading season with two points.

Game 6 and 7: Two OT losses against the Islanders.

On Nov. 22, the Flyers saw leads go away, and then John Tavares ended the game with this outstanding combination of will and skill:

The second contest probably generated more unrest, as the Flyers squandered a 4-2 lead heading into the third period, ultimately seeing Nick Leddy‘s OT goal extend the misery.

Game 8: The temperature rises another level with another squandered lead, and an OT loss to the hated Penguins.

While Pittsburgh generated a 1-0 lead through the first 20 minutes, the Flyers exploded for three goals to make it 3-1 entering the final frame. Even with things crumbling, they shook off the game being tied 3-3 to take one more advantage at 4-3, only to see Jake Guentzel send it to overtime with a late tally.

Then, to turn the knife in deeper, it was Sidney Crosby who scored the game-clincher:

And tweets like these started to surface.

Game 9: Boos and votes of confidence.

With a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks for their ninth in a row, things were getting pretty ugly in Philly.

[Ron Hextall gives Dave Hakstol the vote of confidence]

Game 10: After losing 3-1 to the Sharks, the Flyers dropped a 3-0 defeat to the Boston Bruins.

***

Basically, the Flyers have either been shut out/blown out of games or given up significant leads during this 10-game skid, generating five standings points in the process. Really, this slump could probably be traced back longer; Philly began 2017-18 with a 5-3-0 record, yet now they find themselves at 8-11-7. Yes, that means 15 losses in their last 18 contests.

Maybe Hextall is correct in believing that this team hasn’t played poorly as of late, but they also haven’t played particularly well. It might just be that this squad, as constructed – or with its current coach, or both – simply stands in hockey purgatory.

Monday presents another opportunity for the Flyers to end this streak, as they take on the Flames in Calgary to begin a three-game road trip. If they don’t get it together, we’ll once again learn that votes of confidence only mean so much.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.