The Chicago Blackhawks are keeping goaltender Petr Mrazek around for two more seasons.
The Hawks and Mrazek agreed to an extension with a salary cap hit of $4.25 million. That is a similar AAV to what veteran forwards Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson got to stick around for two more years to mentor the young Blackhawks.
Foligno and Dickinson's extensions were more for the character and leadership they bring to the locker room. Although Dickinson is having a career season with 15 goals and will be 29 next season. Extending him for another two seasons is also a tryout to see if he can contribute at a high level toward the next great Hawks team.
Keeping these veterans around was necessarily vital to the team trying to find a starter in the short term.
Mrazek's extension is more of a case of necessity as they do not have a clear starting goalie in either the short or long term. Well, the team will have to wait another two seasons, but we will address that in a bit.
The Chicago Blackhawks were hoping Arvid Soderblom would be the team's No. 1 goalie by now and into the future.
Instead, he has struggled mightily during his first full NHL season with a 3.95 goals-against average, a .877 save percentage, and just two wins. Soderblom was terrible in December when he gave 25 goals with 13 being allowed in back-to-back games.
He has played better during his past three starts, but it has not been enough for the franchise to feel comfortable enough to move Mrazek at the trade deadline. That is why Mrazek is here for another two seasons.
Mrazek getting a two-year deal also aligns with the Blackhawks' other netminding prospect currently under contract with No. 1 goalie potential, Drew Commesso's timeline for arriving in the NHL.
Commesso is currently getting experience with the Rockford IceHogs in his first full pro season. He has an 8-8-2 record with a 2.82 GAA and a .897 save percentage in the AHL. If he gets the same developmental period as Soderblom, Commesso will have his first full NHL season during the 2025-26 campaign.
Mrazek will be 33 and in the final year of his deal by then. That is the perfect time to give Commesso a shot to win the No. 1 goalie spot and then move Mrazek by the deadline if he is still productive and healthy.
Then that means Soderblom might get squeezed out of the long-term top goalie picture. Arvid is set to be a restricted free agent after next season so the Hawks could easily non-tender him if he keeps playing at this struggling pace he has been on. That would free up playing time for Commesso.
Although, Arvid is still 24 so it is not like he should be abandoned as a potential long-term starting goalie. Netminders sometimes take time to develop. Corey Crawford was 26 when he finally took over the top netminder spot. The Hawks went on to win two more Stanley Cups with him in goal.
This extension does give Soderblom fewer opportunities to make his case that he is still worthy of consideration. Mrazek has avoided his traditional injured reserve stint so far this season. If he can stay healthy, he will deliver results that will keep Arvid as the backup goalie.
Maybe a No. 2 goalie is all Soderblom will ever be in the NHL. Right now, he is a low-cost backup netminder until Commesso comes up and tries to take the starting job away from Mrazek.