Feb 7, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) drives towards Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34) during the second period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Petr Mrazek has seen time in at the OHL, ECHL, AHL, and NHL levels in the past year and is one of the hottest prospects for the Detroit Red Wings organization.
Mrazek was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 5th round, 141st overall, in the 2010 NHL draft. The Red Wings decided to draft Mrazek because of his impressive playoff run with the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL, but they were not sure how he would develop. During the offseason the 67’s traded away their starting goalie and Petr Mrazek took over. In his two seasons as the 67’s starting goalie, Petr Mrazek posted at least 30 wins, a 2.84 GAA, and a .917 SV%.
It was not until the 2012 World Junior Championships though, when Petr Mrazek burst onto the scene with the Czech Republic. He led the Czech team to the quarterfinals, including an upset victory over the U.S. team. Most people remember Mrazek’s celebrations more than his play, but he was named a first team all-star and the best goaltender of the WJC tournament. He impressed the Czech hockey officials so much they decided to make him the third goaltender for the IIHF World Championship 2012 team.
He received his first professional start and victory in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye, but he did not stay in Toledo for long. The Red Wings AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins were having goalie trouble and after only three games with the Walleye he was called up to the Griffins.
In his first start with the Griffins Mrazek helped the team beat the Texas Star 4-1. Mrazek played 25 games in the Griffins uniform and posted a record of 16-7-1. He tallied his first professional shutout and goalie fight with the Griffins as well.
Mrazek was soon called up to the Red Wings after Jonas Gustavsson went down with injury and Jimmy Howard became fatigued and in need of a rest. Mrazek backed up Howard for the first couple of games, but when it became apparent Howard needed a game off. Mrazek received his first NHL start against the St. Louis Blues, in which he earned a 5-1 victory. Since becoming a full time professional, Petr Mrazek has won each of his first starts in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL.
Mrazek is an exciting goalie prospect for the Red Wings and he does not seem get fazed by anything. Whatever comes his way, he is ready and willing to accept the challenge. Mrazek will cause the Wings to make a difficult decision in the offseason on whether the bring back Howard or Gustavsson because Mrazek belongs in the NHL.
For more on Petr Mrazek make sure to check out this article on Red Wings’ Prospects.
Here are a few things some of the staff writers here at Octopus thrower had to say about him.
Petr Mrazek proved his worth in the one game he started. While many can argue that it was because the team in front of him actually played for their goalie or that it was just one game and he can’t be that good all the time, but watch the highlights and take a second look. Mrazek looked cool, calm, and professional with every save he made. He had rebound control; he played the puck as much as Dominik Hasek and Martin Brodeur (or at least it felt that way since us Wings fans haven’t seen that much since Hasek). And he just looked like he fit in with this Red Wings team. Having a tandem of Howard and Mrazek in the future should be a blessing and not a curse.
Feb 7, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34) makes a save against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at the Scottrade Center. The Red Wings defeated the Blues 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
In a perfect world, Ken Holland and Mike Babcock would decide to use Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek in a 1A-1B system, where the goaltenders split starts almost evenly (similar to the situation in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott). However, we’re talking about the Detroit Red Wings here, and the organization’s attitude toward “over-ripening” prospects, as well as their inclination to use Howard as a workhorse, will win out in the end. The fact of the matter is that if Mrazek remains in the NHL, he’ll play ten to fifteen games max this season, which would do far more to hurt his development than to help it. I love the way he plays (NO REBOUNDS), and I believe he is the franchise goaltender that has eluded the Wings for the past few decades, but he needs to remain in the AHL, at least for the rest of the season where he can lead the Griffins to a possible championship and continue his MVP-calibre play. I think next season will see him in a winged-wheel jersey more often than not, though.
I do want Mrazek behind the pipes, and for a couple of reasons. First, in a shortened season, I think it’s important that contending teams have two viable goaltending options. In the event that Howard gets hurt or goes into a slump, a competent backup (no matter how young) is a really good idea, especially considering Jonas Gustavsson‘s fragile state. Second, it’s not like Mrazek bombed in Grand Rapids; he went 16-7-1 with a 2.26 GAA and a .916 save percentage. I wouldn’t be a nervous wreck if Babcock wanted to put him in net on a somewhat regular basis.