Mrazek or Monster? Wings undecided on backup goalie

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The NHL’s latest three-goalie situation has surfaced in Detroit.

With starting netminder Jimmy Howard (groin) healthy and set to make his return Saturday, the Red Wings are undecided on who should be the backup — Petr Mrazek or Jonas Gustavsson:

While carrying three ‘tenders is never ideal, you can forgive the Wings for taking their time with this decision, as there are arguments to be made for both guys.

Mrazek, 22, is the club’s goalie of the future and performed admirably with Howard and Gustavsson (shoulder) out. The Czech backstopper has gone 13-5-1 this year and while his save percentage (.909) and GAA (2.55) aren’t great, head coach Mike Babcock praised Mrazek’s “moxie” for bouncing back after rough outings.

Gustavsson, 30, is far more experienced and while he’s only appeared in three games this year, he did play extensively last season. “The Monster” went 16-5-4 during the regular season and provided nice relief of Howard in an opening-round playoff loss to Boston, posting a .917 save percentage in two games.

It’d be easy for the Wings to send Mrazek down to the American League, as he wouldn’t require waivers and would get plenty of playing time. Gustavsson, meanwhile, would need waivers and there’s a chance he could be picked up by a team looking for depth in goal (like the Rangers, who are without Henrik Lundqvist for up to a month, and could probably stomach Gustavsson’s $1.85M cap hit.)

But, does Mrazek deserve to stick? He could be ready for a full-time spot in the NHL, having already appeared in over 90 regular season and 30 Calder Cup games during his AHL career.

It’s a question Babcock and GM Ken Holland will need to answer, and soon — because nobody likes carrying three goalies.