Red Wings elect for arbitration with Petr Mrazek
This past season, goaltender Petr Mrazek got his first taste of what is likely to be his future with the Red Wings as the team’s starter.
He put up a .921 save percentage in all situations, going 27-16-3 and recording four shutouts through 54 regular season appearances for the Red Wings, playing in just under twice as many games as former starter Jimmy Howard (who only appeared in 37 games and was given credit for the final results in just 31 of those). He should be considered the team’s consensus starter moving forward.
He may enter the coming season on a bridge deal, though, as the team may see his upcoming contract (Mrazek is a restricted free agent this summer) head to team-elected arbitration.
Mrazek is the only player this offseason to have his club file for team-elected arbitration this summer, as the Red Wings confirmed on Wednesday afternoon (per Ansar Khan of MLive) that they have opted to file in the wake of a failed contract resolution so far this summer.
This is the one and only time that the Red Wings will be able to file for arbitration with Mrazek, so it could be their way of ensuring that a deal is done by the time the season begins. Khan suggests that the goaltender and the Atlantic Division club will continue trying to work towards a resolution on a deal ahead of a neutral party arbitration hearing, but so far nothing has come of discussions since the season ended.
The Red Wings, unlike a player in player-elected arbitration, are limited in what sort of power they’ll have in team-elected arbitration.
Should they take Mrazek’s new deal to a neutral party arbitration hearing, the team will neither have power over how long his new deal is nor whether they want to accept what the arbitrator awards the netminder. Teams who file for arbitration are obligated to honor awarded settlements, and players in cases of team-elected arbitration have the right to decide whether they want to take a one or two year deal in a settlement.
For the Red Wings, though, this is likely a better alternative than waiting for Mrazek to hold out and force the team to sign him (as their best option in net) to a much higher deal than they want, or to sign him to extreme amounts term they aren’t comfortable with just in order to get him on the ice for the start of the season.
Things could still take a turn in regular negotiations, and the Red Wings could get their Czech starter signed before anything extreme happens. This situation, though, is certainly one worth monitoring this offseason.