According to CapFriendly.com, the New York Rangers have signed pending unrestricted free-agent Marek Mazanec to a one year contract worth $650,000.
The 22 year old Czech goaltender split the 2017-18 season between HC Slovan Bratislava and the Rangers’ AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack. The 6’4”, 190 pound netminder posted an impressive 11-6-1 record with the Wolf Pack, while registering a 2.97 goals against average and .905 save percentage. He was signed by the Rangers out of the KHL as an unrestricted free agent in December of 2017 and was immediately assigned to Hartford for the duration of the season.
Fans may recall that Mazanec agreed to a one year extension with his original NHL team, the Nashville Predators, in July, 2017 only to have his contract nullified so that he could join the KHL just a month later. In the end, Mazanec would stick in the KHL for just two months before coming back to North America with the Rangers organization.
Originally drafted in the 6th round (179th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Mazanec has played a total of 31 NHL games, earning himself a 8-13-4 record, a 2.98 goals against average and .895 save percentage. Not exactly stellar numbers, but remember that the kid is just 22 years old. In goalie years, that’s still quite young. Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist didn’t even arrive in North America until he was 23 years old.
Speaking of Lundqvist, it remains to be seen how the Mazanec extension affects both him and backup Ondrej Pavelec. Lundqvist, of course, is signed long-term and carries a full no-move clause with his contract, but Pavelec is slated to become a free-agent. Should Pavelec and the Rangers decide to part ways, Mazanec could step into the back up position behind Lundqvist for 2018-19 and finally get himself the NHL job he’s been seeking the past six seasons. Of course, the Rangers also have 22 year old Bulgarian netminder Alex Georgiev in the system, as well. Georgiev managed to see NHL action in 10 games with the Rangers last season and could potentially have the inside track on Mazanec for Lundqvist’s back up job.
So, what do you think Rangers fans? Good signing? Do you trust this kid between the pipes as a backup? Or should GM Jeff Gorton be seeking a more capable veteran?