Carolina Hurricanes: Petr Mrazek Out Long-Term, Might Need Surgery

The Carolina Hurricanes’ preferred #1 goaltender will be out long-term with an upper-body injury and there’s a strong possibility he needs surgery.

In the first of two games against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, Petr Mrazek was involved in a  collision with teammate Max McCormick in the first period. Mrazek immediately appeared to be in serious pain, clutching his right wrist/hand area. He skated quickly off the ice and was replaced by James Reimer, who held on for a 4-1 victory.

Postgame, Rod Brind’Amour said that the injury might not be as bad as they originally thought, some uplifting news after watching him rush to the locker room.

Today, however, the Carolina Hurricanes put out a statement with an update on Mrazek’s status.

“It looks like it’s going to be a little longer than we had hoped,” head coach Rod Brind’Amour said on Monday. “A little more serious damage there.”

In fact, after further evaluation, Mrazek’s injury might require surgery.

“It’s looking like that’s probably what’s going to happen,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s a more serious injury than we had hoped.”

This is a pretty serious blow considering Mrazek is off to one of the best starts of his career. Through three games, he has two shutouts and boasts an excellent 0.99 goals-against average as well as a .955 save percentage. While I get nervous seeing him in net because of his tendencies to drift, he has been nothing short of spectacular to start the season.

How do the Canes manage this loss? Thankfully, James Reimer has been fantastic to begin the season, building off his encouraging season the year prior. He is undefeated to start the season at 3-0-0. The Canes will need “Optimus Reim” to continue to be a stalwart in net to stay near the top of the Central division.

What this injury also leads to is the introduction of Alex Nedeljkovic from the taxi squad to the first-team roster. While this unfortunate injury is a tough break for Carolina, this is the chance Nedeljkovic needs to ensure he can play at the top level. He has only appeared in 6 games in his NHL career with a 2-2-1 record. This could be Nedeljkovic’s best opportunity to prove he has it, or else the Hurricanes will likely let him go in the offseason.

A positive for the two netminders filling Mrazek’s void is they are playing behind one of the best defenses in the NHL. Even without Jaccob Slavin the past three games, the Canes defense shut out the defending Stanley Cup Champions and then had two excellent games against the runner-up last season. Players like Jake Bean, Haydn Fleury, and Jake Gardiner have taken on bigger roles and continue to elevate their play.

The forwards and defense are both using the next-man-up mentality and getting the job done. The same will now need to be said about the goaltending. With Mrazek out, James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic will need to both do their part to make it work seamlessly. If not, critics will begin asking questions about the Carolina Hurricanes.

Question for CC Readers: With Petr Mrazek out, will the Carolina Hurricanes continue to play well without their top goalie?