While Wednesday night's thrilling victory was highlighted by Connor Bedard's 2 outstanding goals (in completely two different ways no less), it was Petr Mrazek that deserves most of the credit for the win. Mrazek has been one of the few bright spots for the league's second worse teams.
Petr Mrazek was a 5th round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 draft. The Czechia native came over to play in the OHL (Ottawa) in 2009 after dominating in the U18/U20 divisions in his home land (save %'s of .924/.932/.946/.924 no less). Over 3 seasons with the 67s (132 games to boot) he faired extremely well with save %'s of .905/.920/.917. Long story shot, Petr Mrazek in his junior career was OUTSTANDING.
Even in the WJC (under 20) tournament playing for Czechia before he began his professional career Mrazek showed his elite play with a .928 in 6 matchups against the world's best same aged players. Splitting his first professional season for the 2012-2013 campaign showed consistent play and a calmness in net for the 6'2 left catching net minder. Needless to say, it appeared Detroit had found at least a 1A to 1B option for its foreseeable future.
As the Red Wings transitioned into more of a rebuild towards the end of his tenure over nearly 6 seasons, Mrazek proved he was an excellent and steady goal tender. His first 40 starts in net for the Red Wings over 2.5 seasons saw him post a nearly .923 and GAA of around 2.27.
The following 3 years were a little more up and down, but more so to do with the team play than Mrazek himself. In 2016 Petr Mrazek was one of the league's best with a .921 and 2.33 GAA in 54 games played. A move to the Flyers in 2018 saw a dip in play with a new team, new coach, and new structure around him.
Signing with the Carolina Hurricanes saw a return to form as 92 games with a save percentage in the .913 range made the Stanley Cup starved Toronto Maple Leafs give him a starting goalie contract. 20 games into this though the team (and city) wanted to oust Mrazek as the net minder had just an .888 save percentage and looked lost most nights. From my point of view this was truly the first time in what was an excellent career where it looked like Petr Mrazek wasn't an NHL starting goaltender.
How quickly everyone forgets all of the aforementioned play, consistent mechanics, and ablitiy to win games on his own once 1 bad season happens. It truly is a "What have you done for me lately" league after all. Even after a year with even worse numbers than in Toronto (3.66 GAA and a .894 save %) it seemed like Petr Mrazek might even be out of the league soon (at just 30 years old at the time).
While Chicago Blackhawks fans understood it was mainly because of the team around him last season, the league likely would be quick to write off Petr Mrazek. Not. So. Fast.
This season the 31 year old veteran, a pending UFA, has kept the Hawks in most games night in and night out and the league all of a sudden is remembering how good this player has been for so long. A .911 save percentage on THIS TEAM is other worldly as far as I'm concerned. Is he now worth a good asset from a team looking to improve its playoff position? Yes, absolutely. Should the Blackhawks trade him for said asset? That, I'm not so sure on.
Yes, it would be nice to add another future 2nd round pick (I think that's his value at the moment) however this young team needs to learn how to win. There are young players on the team that hopefully will be around for a long time (Bedard, Kurashev, Reichel, Vlasic, and Korchinski) and those players need to know they have a chance at winning each night they hit the ice.
Petr Mrazek gives them confidence and right now he is the only goal tender the Blackhawks have that can provide that to the team. Drew Commesso and Adam Gajan are really good prospects, but they are years away from helping at the NHL level. Arvid Soderblom has been "not great" and is a liability at the moment when in net for the Blackhawks.
Would it benefit Chicago more to keep him, give a 1 or 2 year extension, and let the young players on this team have a chance to learn how to win until the younger net minders are ready? To me, it's simple: Don't trade Petr Mrazek and extend him instead. A 2 year x 4 million deal doesn't hurt the Hawks given their favorable cap situation currently.
At the end of that deal Petr Mrazek will only be 34 and if you've read up to this point so far, it appears he's been one of the more consistent goalies in the league over his career. This is a goalie that has 159 wins and 25 shutouts with a (still) career .907 save percentage despite the last two seasons in Toronto and Chicago (.888 and .894 save percentage years).
So while it may be easy to just say, "take the asset and move on" let's all think about what Petr Mrazek gives a young team like this: confidence it can win every night. Put a price tag on that and keep this man in Chicago.