What about the Goaltending?
The only reason the Goaltending is going to need to be fixed is because there will be a three headed monster in net for the Carolina Hurricanes . Alex Nedeljkovic will be a on a one-way deal next season meaning that between him, Petr Mrazek, and James Reimer, one may have to step down or be dealt in the offseason.
The easiest choice would be James Reimer right? He has the most expensive contract and is the oldest of the trio. Seems like sending him away or down on waivers would be a no-brainer, after all, even if someone does claim him off waivers, that would be cap space saved for Don Waddell.
But right now, James Reimer is the best netminder of the three. He has the best rebound control, the highest Saves Above Average, the highest save percentage and the lowest GAA. Why would you not play him?
So how about Petr Mrazek? He is next down on the list, is the next highest paid goalie and will be 29 years old next year. The problem is that Mrazek is the only consistent goalie that the Hurricanes have had since Cam Ward. He has also been carrying the bulk of the starts this season with 40 so far.
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So do we try to keep Alex Nedeljkovic down in Charlotte? No, that wouldn’t be fair to a player who has earned his NHL keep. Add on the fact that he would be the cheapest netminder for this team and the one with the highest potential. If they keep him down in Charlotte next season, he might not want to play for Carolina anymore.
He is turning 25 soon and has been one of the best AHL goalies in recent history. The time to call him up is nigh. This is going to be a conundrum for Don Waddell, a good one to have. But the no matter what the solution is, Ned is going to be a part of it. It will be easier to re-sign him if he is playing in Carolina.
So between Mrazek and Reimer, who gets the boot?
My opinion? You go with a James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic tandem. It’s not a perfect answer, considering neither have really earned a starter role in the NHL, but you can’t afford to lose Ned, and Reimer has been flat out better than Mrazek.
Another good reason is that Ned plays like Petr. They both have a tendency to take high risks that come with high rewards. Reimer is a more cool and consolidated netminder. He can slow down the game to his speed. Having a fire and ice tandem is what got the Canes to the Eastern Conference Finals last season with Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. It’s what they need next year.
If the defense can keep the high danger chances away from the net it wouldn’t even matter who is net. The best goalie is one that doesn’t get challenged very often. Match that all up with an offense that can finish and rack up points on the board and you have a team that can run with the best of them and win championships.
The best part of this ‘fix’? Its sustainable. With so many of these players on the roster for years to come, just making these minor tweaks can create a roster that can start a dynasty. Who knows, in a few years we could be looking back this season as the start of something great.
Question for CC Readers: What do you think is needed to improve the roster?