Marek Mazanec Reportedly Returning for 2017-18 Season

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

In a shocking turn of events, Marek Mazanec and the Nashville Predators have come to terms on a one-year, two-way contract for the 2017-18 season. The details of the contract, first reported by Craig Morgan, specify that Mazanec will earn $650,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the AHL.

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The timeline of events here is rather bizarre but bear with me. When it came time to qualify restricted free agents (RFA’s) Mazanec was among that group despite the feeling his time was over in the Predators organization. “Why was this done,” you ask. Well, there are two key factors in why something such as that was done. Firstly, it allowed him to be exposed for the Expansion Draft. Secondly, it allowed the Predators to maintain his NHL rights should he go over to Europe, do well, and want to return to the NHL scene. If you feel that secondary option is far fetched keep in mind that the Predators still qualified Taylor Aronson and maintain his NHL rights to this day despite what he did at the end of the 2015-16 season. Next came the area in which qualified RFA’s could file for arbitration and that is something which Mazanec happened to do. “Why,” you ask. Well that step is where a lot of this makes sense because the Predators next waived Mazanec to allow the Czech netminder to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) and pursue outside opportunities that could present themselves in the NHL/AHL landscape. Then came the report this evening by Morgan which suggests Mazanec and the Predators “settled” on a one-year, two-way contract for the 2017-18 season. It’s all rather bizarre. And gets that little bit more bizarre when you think of what was said 21 days ago in Nashville.

Following the Future Stars Game at the conclusion of the 2017 Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp comments made by General Manager David Poile appeared to signal a decisive end to Mazanec’s time within the organization:

“Mazanec is probably not going to come back next year. We’ve had some discussions that we’d probably like to start over with our goaltending depth. Which means letting Mazanec go and not re-signing [Jonas Gunnarsson]. We really want to get three new goalies. [Pekka Rinne] and [Juuse Saros] will be our goalies here but, as far as Milwaukee and having a fifth goalie in [Norfolk], we need to find three goalies and we’ll start as soon as tomorrow on that subject.” ~David Poile

The key word off the bat there was “probably” but everything that followed that was a rather blunt statement that the organization was moving on and needing to revamp their goaltending depth. They signed two goaltenders in free agency: Anders Lindbäck and Matt O’Connor. As I wrote on Monday, which happened to be Mazanec’s 26th Birthday, Nashville thinking that would be good enough to get by in the event of an injury to Rinne or Saros is a major gamble. As it turns out: the lost variable is back and the stability that the Admirals have had between the pipes in the AHL for the past four-seasons will return for a fifth campaign.

As of now, the -other- key word here is “reportedly” as the Nashville Predators have yet to make an official press release regarding the matter. Should this report have any real legs to it I’d have to imagine that should run into daylight shortly. Should that happen we’ll keep you updated on just that.

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8 thoughts on “Marek Mazanec Reportedly Returning for 2017-18 Season”

  1. This really is crazy. Maybe Poile realized the Ads were basically screwed in the net after some time had passed. Let’s be honest. Maz isn’t going to be in the big show this year unless Rinne or Saros gets injured, but if he had other NHL/AHL offers coming his way he would have signed somewhere else. I’m glad he’s back being a fan of the Milwaukee Admirals, not just the Nashville Predators, as O’Connor’s and Lindback’s stats are not pretty. I can live with Maz as #1 and Lindback as #2. I would venture a guess that the coaches will play Maz a very high number of games.

    It still is quite an interesting situation, though, considering Rinne’s age and only having two years left on his contract. It would seem they’ll definitely be in the boat of acquiring the #2 goalie in Nashville in a couple years by free agency or trade, not internal development.

  2. FITF: My gut reaction is that Mazanec must have been afforded the chance to become a UFA, took two weeks to explore the market, and quickly realized he was either limited or not getting an NHL offer and would be starting in the AHL anyways – so why not see about returning to a familiar setting to do just that if that’s all that is available anyways. Mazanec shouldn’t be an NHL back-up to start the season but I also feel he still has it in him to become that in due time: goaltenders progression into the sort of player they can be isn’t really similar to players and having a kid like Saros show up and get where he is so fast obscures that a bit. Mazanec was an anchor for the Admirals last season. He can improve upon that next season if he comes back and potentially vault himself into a different setting in 2018-19.

  3. I’m glad to see him come back. The other 2 that they signed don’t give any type of warm feeling as to what they can do here. I think part of the problem for Maz when he was with the big club was no playing time. The same thing happened here with Gunner. I also think they gave up way too early on Gunner.

  4. Great news if it becomes official! I’d like Maz and O’Connor honestly as the pair here. Give the younger guy a shot to watch a true vet go about his business and prep along side him. I feel Gunnarsson learned a little more from Maz last year that way. If this all is true and Maz is back well I’m happy as can be, I said last yr he was our best player many nights the results back that up.

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