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What Should the Canucks Do With Marek Mazanec?

NHL: Preseason-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more frustrating storylines of the 2018-19 campaign for the Canucks and their fans was the lack of goalies in the system, resulting in disaster between the pipes. Michael Dipietro, a highly touted prospect, was forced into one game and allowed seven goals in the process. This, of course, all happened due to the Anders Nilsson trade to the Ottawa Senators, and the Philadelphia Flyers claiming Mike McKenna (the goalie the Canucks received in return) off waivers. One solution to this issue was trading a seventh round draft pick to the New York Rangers in exchange for Marek Mazanec. While he never did play for the Canucks, he played ten games in Utica, and is an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. As such, the Canucks will have to decide whether to bring him back or not, and there may be a case that they should.

In his ten games with the Comets, Mazanec’s stat line is not particularly compelling. His save percentage stands at .874, with a goals against average of 2.99. These, evidently, are not overly impressive numbers. His numbers with the Hartford Wolf Pack (the AHL affiliate of the Rangers) were not much better this season. His save percentage, while better, was still a mere .903, with a GAA of 3.01. These both came with seven wins through 20 contests. In limited NHL minutes (31 games with both the Rangers and the Nashville Predators), he has an underwhelming .895 save percentage and eights wins (along with an assist). His professional profile is thus fairly run-of-the-mill.

Evidently, the recent statistical case is not a convincing one for keeping Mazanec. That said, if one felt so inclined, there is a broader case that can be made for keeping him on as a depth asset. The obvious point is regarding how the Canucks will handle prospect Michael Dipietro next season. After getting crushed in his one-game stint with the Canucks — a contest he was unfairly thrown in to — he looks to be a member of the Comets in 2019-20. However, it is fair to wonder whether it is truly fair or reasonable to expect to take over the starting position right away — after all, Thatcher Demko backed up Richard Bachman for a period of time prior to his ascension to the number one slot. It can then be argued that Mazanec would be a fine temporary starter for Utica. The other argument is one of asset management. The Canucks gave up a 7th round pick for Mazanec, and while this is not worth spending a lot of time thinking about, they are more than likely going to have to bring in a depth goaltender regardless — they may as well re-sign a goalie they went out of their way to acquire. Some have praised his athleticism and see sneaky upside in the 27-year-old, making re-signing him a low-risk-but-maybe-not-zero-reward opportunity.

Overall, the case of bringing back Marek Mazanec is a largely inconsequential one. However, the 2018-19 campaign showed what can happen when depth goaltending is pushed to the wayside. While in the long term, it seems likely that he will be forgotten by many of the fanbase, it is fair to keep him in the conversation in regards to organizational netminding.