When Petr Mrazek signed a three-year, $11.4 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it represented a philosophical change in how goalies have been deployed by the team. For those Maple Leafs’ fans who recall the deployment former head coach Mike Babcock used to engage (and which remained prevalent past his firing), it was a strong starting goalie who played about 60 games and then a weaker backup who played the tougher of any back-to-back games – perhaps about 15 games per season.
The issue over the past few seasons was that it put tremendous pressure on the starting goalie to be and stay sharp. Any fall off almost seemed to be disaster for the team. Granted, that philosophy worked well during Frederik Andersen’s first four seasons with the Maple Leafs. During his first three seasons, he played 66 games (season one), 66 games (season two), 60 games (season three), and then fell to 52 games (season four).
Although the team played well during the regular season, Andersen couldn’t continue his stellar play during the postseason and the Maple Leafs lost every first-round series it played. As Maple Leafs’ fans know too well, Andersen let in too many soft goals. Was he tired? If so, was there an issue of over-use?
Related: Maple Leafs Are Already Gearing Up for a 2021-22 Trade Deadline Deal
For 2021-22, Campbell’s 1A and Mrazek’s 1B
Instead of finding another starting goalie, the Maple Leafs took the opportunity to solidify Jack Campbell as the starter, but to find a legitimate 1B in Mrazek. Mrazek knows the deal, and he’s happy with it. The 29-year-old reported in a recent interview:
“I was really happy when [my agent] said that Toronto reached out about it. You know the team they have, and the history of Toronto is great. So it was an easy choice. The team that they have is great starting with the general manager, the coaching staff. The team in front of the goal is powerful, a lot of skills and, you know, guys can score goals and win games.”
Mrazek’s Been a Solid Goalie During His NHL Career
Mrazek has been a solid goalie since he was picked during the fifth round (141 overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. His NHL record is 128-96-31, and he’s put together a goals-against-average of 2.59 with a save percentage of .911, including 24 shutouts in 275 games (250 starts) with the Red Wings, the Philadelphia Flyers, and most recently the Carolina Hurricanes.
Although Mrazek was injured last season, he still had a 6-2-3 record with a goals-against average of 2.06, and a save percentage of .923 (including three shutouts) in only 12 games.
Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas Shares Team’s Philosophy
Maple Leafs’ general manager noted that “We were fortunate going in that we already had [goalie] Jack Campbell who we feel very strongly about.”
Then, Dubas specifically spoke about the change of philosophy when he said. “We felt we needed to find a strong partner for him so we can have as good a tandem as possible and we felt we achieved that with Petr today. We really wanted someone with a long track record of being a very good goaltender in the League and from that point on it was trying to find the best value, which we feel we did with Petr.”
Dubas also noted that, “His (Mrazek’s) track record of success, he’s been a very good tandem partner in Carolina for the last number of years. We like his competitiveness and everything behind the scenes, everything checks out as strong. When I spoke to him today, he was very open about how he sees himself in that partnership with Jack, and it’s about supporting each other but pushing one another. We like Jack a lot so we wanted to find someone who could be a good partner and not be disruptive in that regard.”
Mrazek Is Good with the Maple Leafs’ Plan
Mrazek spoke to that philosophy when he said, “I don’t know Jack personally, but I heard a lot of great things about him from my previous teammates. I can’t wait to partner with him because the last three seasons in Carolina, I always had great guys with me and we always find a way how to push, how to be better, how to push us to get better. So, I’m looking forward to work with him.”
Related: Maple Leafs’ Fans Might Love Blue-Collar Nick Ritchie Like Zach Hyman
Time Will Tell How This Plan Will Work Out
Although the proof is in the pudding, the idea of moving from a clear #1 followed by a clear #2 with a 1A and a 1B seems to make sense to me. Obviously, we’ll see how that works out next season. But one thing is sure: it’s going to be quite different in net for the Maple Leafs.
Leave a Reply
NHL News/ 1 day ago
Oilers Quick Hits: McDavid, Hyman, Skinner, Nurse
Heading into an important game against the Vegas Golden Knights, many of the Oilers...
NHL News/ 2 days ago
POTUS Joe Biden Makes Fun of Toronto Maple Leafs
POTUS Joe Biden says he likes every NHL hockey team except the Toronto Maple...
Edmonton Oilers/ 3 days ago
How Huge are 60 Goals in 72 Games Played for Connor McDavid?
Connor McDavid has now scored 60 goals in the 2022-23 season. How big a...
NHL News/ 7 days ago
Revisiting Oilers’ Decision to Sign and Retain Evander Kane
The Edmonton Oilers love their decision to sign and retain Evander Kane. He's settled...
NHL News/ 1 week ago
Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 5-2 Win Over Hurricanes
Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of...
NHL News/ 1 week ago
Oilers News and Notes: Hyman, Kulak, McLeod, Foegele
News and notes surrounding the Edmonton Oilers as they get set for a Saturday...
Insider Talks Why Miller Trade Fell Apart, If Canucks Will Try Again
There was chatter just ahead of the trade deadline that the Canucks might try...
Capitals Sign Trevor van Riemsdyk to a 3-Year Contract Extension
The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a three-year contract extension.
Chuck Fletcher Fired by Flyers, Daniel Briere Takes Over
Chuck Fletcher has been fired as the Philadelphia Flyers GM and President, with Daniel...
Oilers Looked at Chychrun and Gudas Before Pivoting to Ekholm
The Edmonton Oilers had a number of hooks in the water during trade deadline...
August 7, 2021 at 8:24 am
I’ll add add my own observation, as the Leafs are a very different team now when compared to Andersen’s first 4 years. Andersen didn’t fit the model of play style anymore. Better defense and stretches of play where the Leaf goalie isn’t busy requires a different type of goaltender to be successful.
Campbell, and now Mrazek, are more successful in that style of play than Andersen is. Dubas really did a nice job of giving his coach a tandem that fits.
August 8, 2021 at 2:12 pm
I would like to put Andersen’s many games in the proper context though. Andersen was very clear that he expected to play every game that he possibly could from near the beginning. He did it with a hint that he would not be happy and there could be repercussions if that didn’t occur. This is what I got from his interviews over the first year or two with the Leafs. So, let’s not just hang this all on Babcock or the Leafs. If there are negative ongoing impacts on Andersen, he was a leading contributor for them happening.
Pingback: Who Will be the Maple Leafs 3rd and 4th Line Centers?
Pingback: Who Will be the Maple Leafs 3rd and 4th Line Centers? – Hockey 1 on 1