Mrazek, Red Wings About $4M Apart On Arbitration Numbers
Monday morning brought some concrete information about the gap in contract negotiations between Petr Mrazek and the Detroit Red Wings just two days before their scheduled arbitration hearing. According to Elliotte Friedman, the numbers the two sides submitted to the neutral arbitrator are $4.15 million apart.
Petr Mrazek arb…DET offer: $2.7M & $3.15M (two-year deal). Player ask: $5M and $5M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 25, 2016
There’s no guarantee that this is where the two sides are actually at in contract negotiations. The numbers submitted to the arbitrator are used as anchoring points. Players always ask for high awards and teams always ask for low awards, and the arbitrator’s final decision usually ends up somewhere in the middle.
The difference does indicate, however, that Mrazek understands himself to be the Red Wings’ likely starting goaltender in the upcoming season. It’s not a bad assumption. The 24-year-old outplayed veteran Jimmy Howard last season, posting a .921 overall save percentage in 54 games. Howard, however, has a $5.3 million cap hit until 2019. His .906 over 37 games last season was well below league average.
And the Red Wings apparently agree that it is time for Mrazek to take over. General Manager Ken Holland indicated in June that the starting spot was Mrazek’s to lose. calling Howard “a really good second goalie to go along with Petr Mrazek.”
In a time when the salary cap is not rising, it is difficult for a team to justify committing more than $10 million dollars to two goaltenders. Should Mrazek’s contract come it around $5 million a year, something will have to give.
That’s easier said than done, of course. While Detroit may wish to move Jimmy Howard, he has a limited No-Trade Clause. In combination with his recent decline in performance, that makes it much harder to find a trading partner than the team might like.
The real question is whether Mrazek, who has only 94 games worth of NHL experience, has earned that $5 million, or if a deal similar to the one signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrey Vasilevskiy (3 years at $3.5 million) is more reasonable.
There is still time to get a deal done before the arbitration hearing on July 27. Most of the time, players and teams scheduled for arbitration come to an agreement outside of the arbitration process, usually before the hearing begins. Occasionally deals are signed after the hearing is completed but before the arbitrator’s binding decision is final. Last season, both Braden Holtby and Jonathan Bernier went through arbitration hearings and then signed contracts the next day.
This is the only instance of team-elected arbitration this offseason and the only goaltender case left on the docket.