More talk about Mrazek and the direction of the team

The Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo suggests that the Red Wings and their fans have “nothing to celebrate” about trading Petr Mrazek away for two conditional picks. If I may be blunt, I don’t believe that anyone was celebrating a deal that essentially got rid of a goaltender for a very middling return:

The glass half-full theory is at least the Red Wings’ vets are character players, who could help with the development of younger players such as recent first-round picks Svechnikov, quickly-improving defenseman Dennis Cholowski and power forward Michael Rasmussen.

If anybody tells you, this is ideal and inevitable, they are not being truthful.

Holland and the Red Wings made their own bed with many mistakes. It’s not as simple as it catching up to all teams in the parity-driven NHL.

Trades like the one of Mrazek are not something to celebrate. But being on the road to nowhere isn’t, either.

It’s about time the Red Wings pull their head out of the sand and understand the only path out is the rocky one.

If the Red Wings had kept going in the same direction, they were going to be flying off a cliff.

Caputo continues, examining the Wings’ possible draft targets and duly noting that the Wings’ goaltending prospects are not extraordinary (though all of Keith Petruzzelli, Filip Larsson, Joren van Pottelberghe, Matej Machovsky, Kaden Fulcher and Chase Perry are still developing).

As for the direction of the team, I know that some Wings fans feel that Detroit went off a cliff a long time ago. No matter where the Wings find themselves today, I definitely believe that they have to climb the standings via a couple years’ worth of affording their top prospects bigger roles on the team, even if that involves some pain as the youngsters learn how to play at the NHL level.

While we’re at it, USA Today’s Kevin Allen has filed a set of trade “rationales,” and Allen duly notes that the Red Wings were not going to qualify Mrazek–so it could be argued that the Wings maximized their return on a player Ken Holland readily admitted that the team would not re-sign:

Feb. 19: Red Wings trade Petr Mrazek to Flyers for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 and conditional third-round pick in 2019

Rationale: The Flyers are third in the Metropolitan Division, now with both of their goalies injured. They were desperate for an NHL-caliber netminder, and Mrazek, while inconsistent, has flashed high-end potential. Mrazek ($4 million) is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason; the Red Wings got something for an asset they might’ve lost for nothing.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

12 thoughts on “More talk about Mrazek and the direction of the team”

  1. “…it could be argued that the Wings maximized their return on a player Ken Holland readily admitted that the team would not re-sign”

    That’s all well and good, but the situation never should have devolved to this point. The playoff streak ended, This season should have been about setting this team up for the future. Try to repair the relationship with your younger, more talented goalie. Protecting him in the expansion draft would have been a good start.

    1. There wasn’t much that the Wings could do to repair the relationship, save sitting him down and explaining that he wasn’t going to be treated badly simply because he was exposed…and that conversation never seemed to happen.

  2. Hmm, how do we help a player with consistency/confidence issues?

    1) expose him in the expansion draft when we could have just exposed Howard knowing that he would never be taken
    2) playing Mrazek sporadically, even after he posted some solid performances (ie gets a shutout and then watches Howard start 14 of the next 16 games, including a 6-game losing streak)

    Who in the organization thought this approach made any sense? We all knew this team wasn’t getting anywhere close to a playoff spot. So why not just use this season to evaluate your talent, and in particular, gather solid info on what to do with Mrazek? Holland and Blashill should have mapped out a game plan. Tell both goalies that we’re just going to go with the hot hand. Play well and you go right back in. Simple as that. So Petr if you get a shutout, you can walk around with some swagger because that guarantees you play the next game. Same goes for you Jimmy. No more head games. No more guessing.

    Maybe if that were done, Mrazek would have found a groove much sooner and we’d be talking about how Howard needs to go, so we can qualify Mrazek and see if he can keep this going for one more season.

    But Kenny and Blashill are the pros…

    1. Something happened between Mrazek and the organization that we don’t fully understand, but it’s clear that a line was crossed regarding attitude and entitlement–per Ken Holland’s words–and while Blashill apparently *did* tell the goalies that he would play the hot hand, that’s not how it worked out.

      Kenny and Blash are the bosses whether we like it or not, and we can always disagree with and criticize their decision-making, but there is definitely more to this story than we will ever be told publicly.

  3. To get away from the “Mrazek, Mrazek, Mrazek”…

    It’s not just the goalies in the system that “are not extraordinary”. There are no real standout prospects at defense and forward either.

    George, with all you read through, do you get the feeling that Ken Holland earnestly believes he has the youngsters/prospects in the system right now to help in the near future (3 or 4 years)? I mean, does he truly believe Cholowski is a future 1st pairing guy? Does he think Rasmussen in a 1st line C? Etc…

    I ask because he doesn’t seem to have the urgency to get more guys in the system that it seems to some of us that he should. I look at GR, TOL, and juniors and I see DET having a ton of secondary and tertiary guys and it doesn’t give a lot of hope for the future..

    1. Aside from Rasmussen, Cholowski, Svechnikov, Hronek and Saarijarvi, there aren’t a lot of elite prospects in the system, to be sure. The Wings have to hope that their players *develop* into some stars here or there via taking steps forward…

      I think the Wings do believe that Rasmussen is a #2 center, that one of Cholowski, Hronek or Saarijarvi might be a 1st pair guy, and the fact that the Red Wings have something like 40 prospects right now, so they believe that some of the tertiary guys will make developmental jumps and become prime-time performers.

  4. Agree 100% Mr Malik!! The Flyers have a slim chance of resigning Petr , IMO.

    So no pick in 2019.

    Flyers have taken the “Goalies Grave Yard” from the Nucks or Flames. I find that odd with Hextall as there GM. But is that Bad or Good!

    1. We agree :O 😉

      As far as I know, the Flyers may very well re-sign Mrazek, but that would mean getting rid of Neuvirth. I’m not sure that they’re headed in that direction.

      1. If Mrazek shines, then it wouldn’t be too difficult for Philly to qualify him and then move Elliott or Neuvirth in a trade. Both guys would be pending UFAs making $2.75M and $2.5M respectively. Plenty of organizations could target either of them as a reasonably priced short-term back-up. For example, Arizona may lose Raanta as a UFA and have nobody under contract. Elliott may be a cheap option for them. Colorado has Bernier as a UFA. Maybe they like Neuvirth more? Carter Hutton may leave St.Louis and seek a #1 job elsewhere. Could they bring Elliott back to tandem with Jake Allen? Dallas has Lehtonen becoming a UFA. Would Neuvirth be a back-up to Bishop? Edmonton, Carolina, NYI…lots of teams might be happy to take Elliott at $2.75M for one more year. So Philly does have options if they believe Mrazek is an upgrade on these guys.

        1. Funny you mentioned Arizona, because they traded for Darcy Kuemper from LA as a sort of back-up plan…

          In the end, I agree, Philly has options, but I would go with Neuvirth and Mrazek over Elliott.

          And of course I forget that in Philly, there is NO loyalty to goaltenders. Not a bit. It’ll be whoever performs better and whoever Hextall can sign easiest.

          1. Yeah it was obvious Arizona would make a move before next season. I guess they got their guy. But if they let Raanta go they may take interest in Neuvirth or Elliott to partner with Kuemper. If Mrazek hits UFA, I could see Arizona offering a $2M deal to Mrazek. Kuemper-Mrazek isn’t so bad. Actually someone I proposed for the Wings to target if they dumped Howard. Mrazek-Kuemper is like 100 times better than Howard-Coreau.

  5. I had a feeling that the Wings would end up sticking with Howard because he’s got that term left on his deal, which is harder to move. I’m OK with that…And I kind of know Jared’s parents, so I’m hoping that their son shows us that he’s more than he was during his first NHL stint.

    At this point, we’ve got who we’ve got…and as you suggest, Petr might want to keep his bags packed!

    Good conversation BTW, thank you for that.

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