It’s indisputable, the Detroit Red Wings are one of the best teams in the NHL when it comes to drafting in the late rounds. There’s a saying that people often say “save the best for last” and the Wings brass seem to have taken this idea to heart when picking their future stars. They often pick players in the later rounds who turn out to be premier players and contribute to the team’s success. Case and point Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg who were drafted 171st overall in 1998 and 210th overall in 1999 respectively. Albeit the Wings did admit that they had some luck in drafting Datsyuk.
From the Detroit Free Press
As for luck: Yeah, that plays a role. One time Andersson was flying to Russia to see a prospect for the third time, and his flight was delayed. After five hours on the runway in the snow, Andersson heard “this unbelievable roar.
“And I look at the window and there’s this big ring of fire — flames in the middle, and in the back of it there’s a fan. It was a fan blowing wind through this ring of fire so the hot air would de-ice the plane. It was old-style Russian de-icing.
“So I was scared looking out. And at about 4:30 in the afternoon they said, ‘OK, no flight. Get off the plane. Try again tomorrow if you want.’ But then the game was going to be over, of course.”
Thankfully, Andersson had already seen the prospect. Another scout on the plane, from St. Louis, had not.
And that’s how the Wings got Pavel Datsyuk.
Then again, luck is whatever we believe it to be. Sure, Andersson was lucky the flight was canceled and the scout from St. Louis did not see Datsyuk.
Could Petr Mrazek be the next premier Wing? While only time can tell there certainly is a lot of buzz in the hockey world about this 20 year old who was drafted by the Wings 141st overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft.
Mrazek, a 2010 fifth round 141st overall draft pick started the season with the Toledo Walleyes in the East Coast Hockey League, playing three games with a 2-1 record not to mention a 2.02 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. While Mrazek was impressing people in the ECHL, the Grand Rapid Griffins were struggling (to say the least) in the AHL. However, all that changed when Mrazek was called up. With Mrazek added to the roster, the Griffins turned their season around, going 6-0 setting a new team record. The Griffins went from dead last in their division pre-Mrazek to being first in the Midwest Division and third overall in the conference.
Mrazek’s impressive start with the Griffins will no doubt turn a few heads within the Wings organization. This guy is definitely someone Wingnuts can get excited about. Although the Detroit Red Wings have a history of slowly developing prospects and not rushing them in to the NHL, Mrazek’s performance could put some pressure on the Wings brass to give him a shot in the big leagues sooner rather than later. As excited as I am to see him don the Winged Wheel, my preference would be for him to remain in the AHL to continue his development.
If we take a look at the likes of Datsyuk and Zetterberg; they did not enter the league with much fanfare or expectations thus allowing them to quietly develop into elite talents and become adored by all Red Wing fans and most hockey fans for that matter. Let’s face it Datsyuk is probably the best overall player in the game. The Red Wings organization and its fans should make sure they do not put too much pressure on Mrazek though for the time being they should just enjoy his stellar play in the AHL and be happy that the Wings could potentially have another late round gem in the system.