After five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team said goodbye to their beloved
goalie, Frederick Anderson, as he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes after recently becoming a free agent. In return, the Leafs have signed fellow free agent and former Carolina Hurricane, Petr Mrazek to a three-year, $3.8 million contract.
Andersen’s departure was announced Wednesday afternoon to the public. It didn’t take
long for Leafs' stars, Auston Matthew and Mitchell Marner, to express their appreciation for their goalie and close friend of five years on social media.
The news of Mrazek didn’t come as a surprise to many fans, as talk of the former Carolina Hurricanes goalie signing with the Leafs had been floating around on social media for a few days before the news was made official.
The 29-year-old only appeared in a total of 12 games in the 2020-21 season with the Hurricanes due to injury. Despite his limited on-ice action, Mrazek had a .923 save percentage and 2.06 goals-against average for the season.
Andersen, who finished his 2020-21 season with .896 save percentage in 24 games, struggled a bit more than usual this past season, as he eventually lost his starting position to Jack Campbell. In addition to his struggles this season, Andersen was off the ice most this season due to a knee injury.
The Leafs have found a way to create a strong goaltending duo for just over the price of
Andersen’s contract alone. While Andersen’s contract with the Canes is $4.5 annually, the Leafs are paying $5.45 annually for their new duo. Campbell and Mrazek combine for a save percentage of .922, with just under $1 million of a higher cap hit than Andersen’s current contract.
With Mrazek’s move from a smaller market in Carolina to a much larger one in Toronto,
some are concerned about how the 29-year-old will adjust. Mrazek experienced a large market back in 2010 when he was first drafted to the Detroit Red Wings, and stayed for an additional six years with the team. Since then, the goalie has had his fair share of ups and downs in his career- from his impressive ‘15-’16 season in which his save percentage was 92.1 per cent, he declined to a 90.1 percent the following year.
As a starting goalie, Mrazek has shown some inconsistencies in the past, but as a split goaltending duo, he’s in a great position to succeed. It’s still highly unlikely that Mrazek will take Campbell’s starting position, however it's good to know that Sheldon Keefe will have
some strong goaltending options should either goalie begin to feel burnt out throughout
the upcoming season.
Mrazek says he’s excited to be sharing the net with Campbell, after seeing the success
he’s had with the Leafs this past season. “I don’t know Jack personally,” Mrazek said. “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. We always found a way to be better, how to push [each other] to get better. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Hopefully this new goalie duo can pull it together and lead the team through the playoffs. After all, a strong goaltender can do a team wonders in the playoffs, and could even possibly carry a team all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Just take a look at Carey Price.