Here we go, the single most divisive position among the Carolina Hurricanes’ fanbase.
Petr Mrazek came into the season as the team’s de-facto #1 and he played like it. Mrazek went 2-1 in 4 appearances before suffering an injury to his hand. While the timetable for his return following surgery is unclear, his play this season has been phenomenal:
Add to that a .955 save percentage and 2 shutouts and it’s impossible to argue Mrazek’s contribution to the team’s early-season success.
In Mrazek’s absence, starting duties have fallen to James Reimer. While the veteran netminder holds a 5-1 record, his underlying stats (3.13 GAA; .883 SV%) don’t paint a rosy picture. While I don’t think those numbers tell the entire story, they aren’t close to complimenting the rest of the team. I have little doubt his performance will improve but, until Mrazek returns, the Hurricanes will have less room for error if they want to keep pace.
Alex Nedeljkovic has been serving as Reimer’s backup and got his first action of the season in Monday night’s loss. While his numbers from that game aren’t good (3.09 GAA; .864 SV%), the loss cannot be hung around his neck. One goal deflected off of Svechnikov’s shoulder; a questionable penalty shot, and then the parting of the Red Sea all played into Carolina’s loss.
Regardless of where you stand on the goaltending, one thing is clear: the soon Mrazek returns, the better for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Things will get more interesting in the offseason, as all 3 goalies are set to become free agents (Mrazek and Reimer as UFAs; Nedeljkovic as an RFA). Will we see a trade? John Gibson and Darcy Kuemper are particularly interesting options, but acquiring either would depend on how Anaheim or Arizona view their situations and what they would want in return.