Hurricanes Have Too Many Choices in Internet with Petr Mrazek Again


The goaltending place is a particularly unstable one.

Now we have seen otherwise-mediocre goalies burst onto the scene or come from out of nowhere and carry their groups to Stanley Cups, solely to by no means once more attain that degree of play. A sure case 15 years in the past in Raleigh involves thoughts. Jordan Binnington, Tim Thomas and Matt Murray are another examples inside the final decade.

That is one other dialog for an additional day, however this is similar purpose the Hurricanes might nonetheless be cautious of Alex Nedeljkovic being the way forward for their franchise. Small pattern sizes might be deceptive.

Nevertheless, the purpose stands – a scorching goalie can carry a workforce a lengthy method. The Hurricanes, as talked about final week, are a legit cup contender. If a goalie finds a rhythm behind them on the proper time, they’re positively in enterprise.

Petr Mrazek returned after a three-month hiatus resulting from thumb surgical procedure, after a scorching-hot begin to the season, that includes two shutouts in his three full video games. Suffice to say, he picked up the place he left off in his first two video games again – a 28-save shutout of the Dallas Stars (with zero wiggle room, being a 1-0 last), then an excellent 34-save win over the first-place Florida Panthers.

Mrazek is clearly this membership’s #1, or not less than “1A” goaltender. James Reimer has been the second man since his acquisition in 2019, whereas rookie Nedeljkovic was clearly the third man out of camp – as seen by his taxi squad standing, and the truth that he was waived and unclaimed by all 30 franchises in January.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek celebrates his shoot out win (AP Picture/Karl B DeBlaker)

The factor is, since Mrazek’s damage, Nedeljkovic has clearly been the superior goalie. It appears easy then, roll with the 2 guys who’ve carried out the most effective, proper?

Okay, I assume not.

So, what do the Hurricanes do from right here? They’ve choices, so let’s break down the professionals and cons of every.

Commerce Reimer

Now, this doesn’t seem to be a very possible final result to me, until the Hurricanes get a semi-outrageous supply for a 33-year-old backup and pending free agent. However this concept has been floated a couple of occasions, so let’s start by addressing it.

On the one hand, there’s a good probability some workforce(s) on the market has an curiosity in Reimer. Regardless of his struggles at occasions this yr, he’s a stable, veteran backup with almost 400 video games of NHL expertise. Good goaltending is tough to seek out; good, depth goaltending more durable but.

James Reimer Carolina Hurricanes
James Reimer of the Carolina Hurricanes (Picture by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI by way of Getty Pictures)

Nevertheless, take into account the place the Hurricanes might doubtlessly be put in in the event that they pull the set off on a deal for Reimer. What occurs should you roll with Mrazek and Nedeljkovic alone and one among them goes down once more? Once more, one goalie isn’t going to play each recreation the remainder of the season.

By way of the depth chart, the 2 goalies enjoying for Carolina’s AHL affiliate in Chicago are Antoine Bibeau and Beck Heat. Bibeau is an average-ish AHL goalie, and Heat, whereas promising in his small-sample skilled debut, is an undrafted 20-year-old that was enjoying within the WHL a couple of months in the past. Evidently, neither of these guys are who you wish to be counting on down the stretch.

In summation, Reimer is price much more as a well-recognized, veteran insurance coverage coverage than he possible can be as a commerce chip.

Commerce Mrazek


He’s scorching scorching, with three shutouts in 5 (full) video games performed. He additionally had a .929 SV%/2.08 GAA in final yr’s playoff run. He’s an ideal match within the locker room and with the fanbase. It’s not occurring.

Commerce Ned

Now, that is additionally almost an “lol” as effectively, however not less than hear me out on this one.

Two and a half months in the past, nobody wished Nedeljkovic. The Hurricanes waived him, and nil (0) groups put in a declare. He was a free goalie, with a stable draft pedigree, a former AHL Goalie of the Yr winner, with a superb resume within the minors, juniors, and internationally. It didn’t matter.

Then he received scorching on the proper time; when the Canes wanted it most. Even then, nevertheless, why did the franchise appear hesitant? The Hurricanes had been reluctant to present him consecutive begins, even after a number of off-days and when Reimer was clearly preventing the puck and handing out comfortable objectives far too usually.

So, what if the Hurricanes nonetheless aren’t bought on Nedeljkovic as a way forward for this workforce, and somebody makes a proposal for him that gives, say, some scoring assist?

I’d not name this notably possible both method, as Nedeljkovic has been incredible in his first prolonged look within the NHL, offering a giant raise for the workforce. He was developed right here for seven years, and all that point put in is lastly paying off.

Ned can also be the one one of many three goalies mentioned right here beneath workforce management for 2021-22 (as an RFA). However, if the workforce expects him to fall all the way down to earth, promoting when his worth has doubtlessly recovered may very well be a shrewd long-term transfer.

Reimer the All-Time Backup

Bear in mind again within the day, enjoying contact soccer, when the child with the monster arm performed all-time quarterback? How’s this for a brand new spin?

Mrazek performed his first recreation again from damage on the second leg of a back-to-back, following a Nedeljkovic begin the evening earlier than. Reimer was on the bench, and Nedeljkovic a wholesome scratch.

This introduced up the concept: what if Reimer was simply the man on the bench? This may appear form of foolish – and finally, what number of occasions do you see the Hurricanes pulling Mrazek or Nedeljkovic? It solely occurs a handful of occasions in a season. The workload can be removed from substantial.

James Reimer Carolina Hurricanes
James Reimer, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On the identical time, there may be some logical advantage to it.

Mrazek and Nedeljkovic are momentum goalies. They feed a lot on the gang, on the workforce’s vitality (and vice versa), and their confidence appears to construct as a recreation goes on and so they extend saves. In addition they are likely to thrive on the large stage.

Does that appear just like the form of goalie who you actually wish to usher in chilly, in what is probably going a blowout or after an damage that has possible given the workforce a kick within the proverbial intestine?

Now, once more, it doesn’t occur all that always, a beginning goalie getting pulled for the man on the bench. However Reimer, who has spent a considerable chunk of his profession within the #2 function and has loads of expertise coming in reduction, may very well be extra suited to the function along with his calm, regular demeanor.

This is able to additionally present slightly bit of additional relaxation for the opposite two, as on days they don’t begin they’d not have to decorate out, take warm-ups, or sit on the bench – they only get a built-in off day.

Reimer appears to be a consummate professional – I don’t suppose he would have any qualms about dealing with this function, and it appears to be one of many uncommon choices on right here that, to some extent, advantages all three guys.

A 3-Goalie Rotation

Whereas we’re speaking soccer, many followers of the game have possible heard the phrase: “you probably have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any”. That feels considerably pertinent to this potential state of affairs.

The concept behind this saying is that solely so many first-team follow reps can be found to construct chemistry with receivers and keep sharp for Sundays, so the “QB1” title is essential, even throughout follow time.

Hockey practices don’t actually have this subject, to be honest, as each goalies can simply get legit workloads. And, within the NHL – particularly this truncated season with only a few multi-day layoffs between video games – groups actually want two viable, NHL goalies. Even Andrei Vasilevskiy isn’t enjoying each evening.

However three? That’s quite a lot of downtime. How are all three guys going to remain sharp? Particularly when two of your guys are enjoying at a a lot larger degree than the opposite; what sort of message is that sending, particularly on a cup contender?

This may circle again to the unique level, too – the Hurricanes should not more likely to rotate goalies come playoff time. It’s pretty possible that Mrazek would be the man, as he has been every of the final two seasons. Properly, he has missed 31 video games. Regardless of stopping 62-of-64 in his first two video games again, his stamina possible just isn’t absolutely ready for a playoff grind.

Alex Nedeljkovic Carolina Hurricanes
Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes (Picture by Grant Halverson/Getty Pictures)

The purpose being, Mrazek, at a minimal, must get half of the remaining video games on the Hurricanes schedule. If the previous is any indication, it’ll possible be a pair greater than half.

The Hurricanes have 18 video games remaining, together with three back-to-backs, one finish of which is able to assuredly go to the second goalie. In addition they have a 4-in-6 stretch on the finish of April and the start of Could, of which two are more likely to go to a different choice.

All advised, a good approximate baseline for Mrazek is about 11 video games. That leaves seven video games for Nedeljkovic and Reimer to separate, give or take… in six weeks. What’s the purpose? Neither goalie goes to remain sharp or in ready-to-go, recreation form with a 3 or four-game workload over that time frame.

Seven video games for one among them, which works out to about recreation per week, is far more lifelike.

Make a Resolution on a 2-Goalie Rotation

So, lastly, and doubtlessly most logically, is choosing a two-man rotation they’re snug with. There are lots of causes this makes probably the most sense – workload and advantage being the 2 most distinguished.

As beforehand talked about, Mrazek is more likely to get the lion’s share of begins, so take into account him a shoo-in. So how is the opposite choice determined? Let’s begin with the stat traces:

James Reimer: 14-4-1, 2.71 GAA, .905 SV%
Alex Nedeljkovic: 8-4-2, 2.12 GAA, .924 SV%

On a primary degree, Nedeljkovic has achieved a greater job preserving the puck out of the online, however Reimer has gained extra video games (and sure, goalie wins are about as dependable to attract conclusions from as +/-). However, in Reimer’s case, a lot of his finest saves have come within the greatest moments. He has allowed extra comfortable objectives than you would favor, sure, however most of the time he comes up with the large, robust ones in crunch time.

Rod Brind’Amour is loyal to his veterans – one might possible argue to a fault, at occasions. Brock McGinn is a very precious a part of the Hurricanes, however he’s not the first-line participant he has usually been deployed at in 2021. And, as beforehand talked about, Reimer appeared to get fairly the good thing about the doubt after the Mrazek damage regardless of being considerably outplayed by Nedeljkovic.

It stands to purpose, then, that in a possible Stanley Cup run the top coach will wish to go along with the confirmed veterans. The protected play, if you’ll, could have much less upside, but additionally – not less than theoretically – decrease variance.

There’s one other issue considerably attention-grabbing to contemplate, although.

Nedeljkovic and Mrazek are extremely comparable in type. They’re far beneath the usual archetype for contemporary goalies, and so they make up for it by being extraordinarily athletic and aggressive. They like to deal with the puck – and do a great job of it – and largely do a superb job preserving the puck out of the online. They each additionally give their head coach a good quantity of complications, with dangerous performs sometimes ending up hurting them.

Reimer is almost the alternative. He has good dimension, will get by on his angles and veteran savvy, and is generally going to remain in his crease save for the occasional quick loop round his cage to cease the puck within the trapezoid on a dump-in. There’s some advantage in having a extra calming, veteran presence within the web behind the Hurricanes. Whereas they’re a younger, energetic workforce that has fed off the vitality Mrazek and Nedeljkovic have offered, there are occasions they want what Reimer supplies – the calm, collected, quiet recreation that may shut off an opposing assault and maintain a lead.

Might the Hurricanes be hesitant to get by with two goalies that play such an unpredictable type (bear in mind why this occurred)?

Mainly, the Canes have:
A. Mrazek-Reimer, a tandem they’ve gained with earlier than and who they’re clearly snug with, although just one goalie you actually need enjoying, particularly within the postseason, or
B. Mrazek-Ned, a tandem of potential stars that each can steal video games and play the place at an elite degree at occasions, however who characterize the kind of “decrease flooring” mixture as effectively if each guys go chilly and begin bleeding objectives.

Begin to have a look at it this manner, and instantly it turns into a bit much less black and white.

Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In conclusion, the principle purpose for the remainder of the season between the pipes is getting Mrazek again into the circulate, ready for the grind of enjoying each different day in a rugged playoff collection. He’s absolutely going to play over half of the remaining video games, and, clearly, the Hurricanes will wish to roll with the choice that offers them the most effective probability to win on the opposite nights as effectively. The workforce is within the hunt for the one seed within the Central Division (to not point out the Presidents’ Trophy), in spite of everything.

Nedeljkovic looks as if your best option on paper, however, as mentioned right here, many components will play into the choice on what the workforce wants. And, hell, the most definitely final result might be some mixture of a number of choices listed right here.

In the end, having three goaltenders is much from a nasty downside to have – however the Hurricanes have to be cautious with how they deal with the rotation from right here on out.

Lest they threat, effectively, having none.


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