“As we wake up today, obviously Petr Mrazek is our number-one guy.”
That was Detroit GM Ken Holland today on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa, when asked about his goaltending situation.
“Obviously” was the right word to use.
Mrazek, 23, has been brilliant this season, going 20-10-4 with a .933 save percentage. Without him, it’s fair to wonder if the Wings would be in a playoff spot.
But Mrazek, a pending restricted free agent, has also created a problem of sorts for Holland. That’s because 31-year-old Jimmy Howard is already locked up through 2018-19 for a cap hit of almost $5.3 million — and that’s a lot of money to pay a backup, especially one with a .904 save percentage.
Holland said he isn’t focused on that now.
“When the year’s out and I’ve got all the information, I’ll sit down and plot a plan heading into the offseason,” he said. “But for now, we’ve got a top, young goaltender in Petr Mrazek and we’ve got a guy that’s in the prime of his career, Jimmy Howard, that’s been the number-one guy here.
“It’s been tough for [Howard] recently; every time he plays a game he seems to play the second game of a back-to-back. … He’s had some real tough games against some real good teams, hasn’t had a lot of puck luck. Our team really hasn’t played very well for him when he’s been in there, but he keeps battling and he keeps competing.”
The challenge for Holland might be to sell that story to another GM, because Howard’s save percentage has been below the league average the past three seasons.