It looks like Winged Pride has strayed away from the path of positional analysis that we had been doing earlier. However, we are back on track today. We are going to start discussing goalies. The Wings have a few really interesting pieces here and Winged Pride is going to go a little more in depth with the coming articles than we had previously. To get this out of the war Winged Pride wants to make the following point known: goalies are extremely hard to to project. However, someone has to do it, and Winged Pride would love to go over the Red Wings goalie prospects.
Let's start with the most promising of the bunch, Petr Mrazek. He was the 141st overall pick and Detroit's fifth selection of the 2010 draft. At 21 years old, Mrazek was picked to be a depth goalie for the Red Wings. Then he played in the WJC for his homeland Czech Republic. He was phenomenal and hasn't really looked back since. In a game against the USA, Mrazek made 52 saves, including this one which came on a penalty shot while the game was tied. Mrazek was given the top goaltender award at the tournament.
Mrazek has great lateral movement. He is extremely quick going from post to post with a great glove hand. He has above-average athleticism along with the ability to make several outstanding saves. However his most valuable skill is his ability to get scolding hot and carry his team on his back like he did at the WJC and for his junior team in the playoffs, the Ottawa 67's. One of the most valuable things come playoff time is a goalie who can steal games. It seems that almost every year the team with the best goaltending wins the Cup. With so much parity in the league almost anyone can win the Cup in a given year and having a goalie who can get that hot and steal multiple games for you is an asset that's hard to underrate. A goalie's mental game is equally as important as his physical abilities. Mrazek has unshakable confidence in himself which allows him to shake off bad goals and not let things get to him when between the pipes.
Unfortunately, Mrazek is a little bit on the smaller size for an NHL goalie at just 6'1". He doesn't have the best positioning and sometimes relies too much on his reflexes and athleticism which, when paired with his tendency to leave lots of room above his shoulders(due to both his size and squat) can be the reason he has to make so many outstanding saves. It is doubtful that when the game speeds up at the NHL level he will be able to keep up with the faster shots, passes and play development. Positioning is the skill that Mrazek needs to develop the most going forward in order to make the next step in his progression.
With all that said, Mrazek is still quite young and his ceiling projects him as a #1 goalie. Mrazek should look to play for the Griffins this entire year and possibly the next as well before coming up to the Red Wings in two years and splitting time with Howard before eventually taking the starting job from him. Or, if the Red Wings feel confident with their other goalie prospects they may look to make a big trade centering around Mrazek and a few other prospects. If the Red Wings continue to sustain this kind of depth they may have too many prospects and not enough spots for them leading the Wings to condense their prospects via trade to give themselves a bona fide superstar similar to what other teams have done in the past(See Toronto's acquisition of a young Phil Kessel albeit for different reasons).
Petr Mrazek is another example of a good find late in the draft for a team with elite scouting and player development. There will be another article posted tomorrow talking about the resurgence of Tom McCollum and where how he may be forcing himself back into the Red Wings future plans at goalie. Check us out on twitter @WingedPride to keep up with all things Winged Pride.