The Detroit Red Wings drafted netminder Petr Mrazek in the fifth round, 141st overall, of the 2010 draft. Less than five years later and Mrazek’s draft stock has risen significantly – at least in the KHL.
In Sunday’s first round of the 2015 KHL draft, Mrazek, who met the criteria for the draft by virtue of being under the age of 24 and not having his rights owned by any club in the league, was selected seventh overall by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. However, after a season in which he may have possibly pushed fellow goaltender Jimmy Howard out of the Detroit net for the number one job, it’s probably safe to put his chances of heading to Russia next season at about zero percent.
This past season with the Red Wings was breakout year, as Mrazek got the nod in 29 games this season, posting a 16-9-2 record with three shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. In the post-season, it was Mrazek, not Howard, that got the reins against the Tampa Bay Lightning and almost singlehandedly helped Detroit push the Lightning to seven games. In the first round, Mrazek notched two shutouts and had a 2.11 GAA and .925 SP. Unfortunately for Mrazek, he was outdueled by Ben Bishop in Game 7 as the Lightning defeated the Red Wings 2-0 to advance to the second round.
The Red Wings have Mrazek locked up for the 2015-16 campaign on a one-year, $737,500 pact, but he’ll be a restricted free agent following the upcoming season. If he were to move on, that would likely be the time for him. With Howard’s play raising questions about how much longer he’ll be battling for the starting role in Detroit, it seems as though Mrazek will likely get another deal with the Red Wings, even if only another short-term contract.
Mrazek being drafted to the KHL isn’t the strangest thing to happen in the draft’s history, as players such as Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon and even 2015’s consensus first overall pick Connor McDavid have been selected previously. Oddly enough, though, Mrazek being selected while currently under contract in the NHL didn’t even make him the only player selected in the draft under such a circumstance.
Anton Forsberg, a goaltending prospect for the Columbus Blue Jackets, was also selected in the draft. Like Mrazek, Forsberg, too, was selected in the first round, but was taken 20th overall by Avangard Omsk.
Forsberg, 22, was a seventh-round selection of the Blue Jackets in 2011, being taken with the 188th pick of the draft. He made his NHL debut this season, appearing in five games and posting a 0-4-0 record with a 4.69 GAA and .866 SP. He fared much better in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons, however, going 20-8-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .927 SP. He is Columbus' fourth ranked prospect in The Hockey News' Future Watch issue.