On February 19, 2018 The Flyers acquired goaltender Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings for two conditional draft picks. Needless to say this isn’t the first time the Flyers have traded for a goaltender. In fact, the Flyers have made twenty-five trades in their history in which they have acquired an NHL goalie. The task then became comparing Petr Mrazek to goalies of past Flyers trades.
A points ranking system was developed to compare common goalie statistics. The results were used to rank the goalies based upon their career performance up to the point they were acquired. Not all statistics are equal so an effort was made to weight the common goalie statistics based upon their perceived relevance. The goalie statistics that were weighted and applied to this comparison are: wins, goals against average, save percentage, and shutouts.
The Philly Sports Network Flyers team came together to devise consensus stat rankings. It was determined that save percentage is the most important goalie statistic. Based upon this ,save percentage has the highest weight within the algorithm. Wins, goals against average, and shutouts follow in that order, each having decreasing influence.
Much as all statistics aren’t necessarily equal, neither are eras, particularly in sports. A statistical adjustment was applied to goals against average and save percentage in order to try to account for the era in which a goalie played. Adjusting these stats gave goalies that may have played in a more “offensive era” credit for that plus allowed for a more accurate comparison.
We have the results! Where does Petr Mrazek rank?
Goalies that the Flyers acquired that were at the end of their careers and had very little left to offer the Flyers or the NHL were excluded. At 26 years old, Petr Mrazek is in, or entering, the prime of his career. Only goalies acquired, via trade, at a comparable stage in their career are kept for comparison. Goalies such as Glenn “Chico” Resch, Sean Burke (the second time he was acquired), Pete Peeters, and Marcel Larocque all had far more distinguished careers at the time they were acquired and all would’ve been in the Top-5 of this ranking, but all were at the end of their careers and thus do not appear on this list.
Ironically the man who acquired Mrazek, Ron Hextall, sits at the top of the rankings and sets the standard for which all other Flyers goalies must be compared in this regard. The man affectionately known as “Hexy” was 30 when the Flyers reacquired him from the New York Islanders. Hextall, in his first stint with the Flyers, led them on a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals (1987) and also to another Wales Conference Finals appearance (1989). Hextall had significant regular season and postseason success prior to being reacquired which is what sits him comfortably atop the rankings. Hextall incredibly won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie in his rookie season (1987).
Bernie Parent, another Flyers legend sits in the Top-5 at #5 in the rankings. Some might be thinking: “How is he not ranked higher?” Keep in mind that these rankings only take into account what the player did BEFORE being acquired by the Flyers. Bernie had great goals against average and save percentage numbers. What hurt Bernie in these rankings is the number of losses he had both in the regular season and playoffs. As is the thing of Flyers legend, Bernie Parent went on to win two Stanley Cup Championships after he was reacquired. The old saying goes: “Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent”; however fortunately for the Flyers his greatest success came after they reacquired him.
Based on the numbers and the final rankings, Petr Mrazek actually compares extremely favorably to Steve Mason. Mason got his career started off in electric fashion by winning the Calder Trophy his rookie year in Columbus. However after his successful rookie campaign his production dropped off quickly necessitating the trade. Mason was able to resurrect his career while with the Flyers. He has turned his success in Philadelphia into a lucrative free agent contract with the Winnipeg Jets.
Petr Mrazek has really followed a similar career arch as Mason. Even though Mrazek broke in at 20 years old, he really burst onto the scene at 23 years old in the 2015-2016 season. That year he posted career a best in wins (27), goals against average (2.33), save percentage (0.921) and shutouts (4). Since that season Mrazek’s numbers have declined and along with the decline of his team, brought about his trade to the Flyers.
Petr Mrazek comes to the Flyers with better peripheral stats and far superior success in the playoffs than did Mason. Much of Mason’s pre-Flyers success could be attributed to such an anomalously good rookie season, whereas Mrazek has been much more consistent. Perhaps Petr Mrazek can reclaim his career much like Steve Mason did while with the Flyers. At the very least he appears to have history on his side. The numbers suggest that Mrazek is definitely worthy of the excitement surrounding his arrival that has been exuded by Flyers fans. Mrazek has gotten off to a flying start by going 2-0-0 with a 2.02 GAA and a 0.917 SV% through his first two games with the orange and black. Things certainly seem to be trending up for both Mrazek and the Flyers.
Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports