Wings, Mrazek meet in the middle, sort of, to avoid salary arbitration

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DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings and Petr Mrazek met in the middle, sort of, and thus were able to avoid an arbitration hearing on Wednesday.

The Wings signed Mrazek to a two-year deal worth $8 million prior to his arbitration hearing which was scheduled for 9 a.m.

Mrazek had asked for $10 million over the next two seasons, while the Wings offered $5.85 million over the same period.

If the Wings had reached arbitration with Mrazek it would have been the first time since they did so with Ray Sheppard in 1995.

In 2009, Detroit did go to arbitration with Jiri Hudler, but that was a unique case. Hudler left to play in Russia before the hearing took place.

Detroit also avoided an arbitration hearing with Danny DeKeyser, who signed a six-year deal worth $30 million on Tuesday.

Mrazek, 24, made $737,500 last season.

He will remain a restricted free agent after the deal expires.

Detroit’s goalie tandem has a combined salary-cap hit of $9.3 million over the next two seasons.

Jimmy Howard is entering his fourth year of a six-year deal that has a salary-cap hit of just under $5.3 million a season.

Mrazek won the starting job from Howard midway through last season when he led the league in goals-against average and save percentage in January (7-1-1, 1.32 goals-against average, .953 save percentage). He then lost the starting job after he struggled the final two months of the regular season, getting pulled five times in a span of 14 starts.

The Wings are now just over $4.2 million over the $73 million NHL salary cap.

They do however have cap relief coming once they place Johan Franzen ($3.95 million), Joe Vitale ($1.16 million) and Teemu Pulkkinen ($612,500) on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season.

The main sticking point appeared to be comparable contracts.

Mrazek has played one full season in the NHL and looking a dollar amount the Frederik Andersen got when he signed a five-year deal worth $5 million a season.

Mrazek is three years away from unrestricted free agent status, while Andersen is one year removed from it.

Andersen is 77-26-12, with a 2.33 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in the regular season. He’s 17-9 in the playoffs, with a 2.34 GAA and .916 save percentage.

Mrazek, who was taken 141st overall in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL draft, has a career record of 46-30-8, with a 2.29 GAA and .920 save percentage in the regular season. He’s 4-6 in the playoffs, with a 1.88 GAA and .931 save percentage.

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