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Petr Mrazek sees trade to Blackhawks as opportunity to play ‘a lot of games’

Mrazek hopes to stay healthy, play ‘a lot of games’ with Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The 2021-22 campaign was admittedly a “tough” one for Petr Mrazek. He battled multiple injuries, finished with a career-low .888 save percentage, and was even placed on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs the day before the trade deadline.

Anything that seemingly could’ve gone wrong, went wrong.

“I was struggling all season long with different injuries,” Mrazek said in a virtual conference call on Wednesday morning. “That’s not what a player wants.”

But after changing up his offseason workouts and visiting many different specialists, physiotherapists and chiropractors, Mrazek said: “I feel really, really good right now.”

With the Maple Leafs in a cap crunch and on the prowl for a No. 1 goaltender, nobody was surprised to see Mrazek and his $3.8 million cap hit over the next two seasons moved this summer. It felt inevitable, but that didn’t make the trade any easier to swallow for the 30-year-old veteran goaltender, who was hoping to be part of something special in Toronto.

“It’s always difficult to hear that news and to be moved,” Mrazek said. “But I see it as a business, as an opportunity for me to be healthy and play a lot of games. That’s all that matters. I will try to do as best as I can to support the team and the fans and everything around.

“The news was difficult because you signed a three-year deal in Toronto, but the number one thing for me is to stay healthy. I’m really happy to be in Chicago and hopefully see a lot of games.”

It’s easy to see why the Blackhawks made this move. They had zero NHL goaltenders under contract going into the draft and were able to jump into the first round by acquiring Mrazek, a pick they used on defenseman Sam Rinzel at No. 25 overall. It also made no sense for the Blackhawks to subject one of their young goaltending prospects to next season’s situation and risk stunting their development — it’s also why veteran Alex Stalock was signed as a backup.

And that’s kind of the elephant in the room: Mrazek is probably well aware of the fact that he’s going to be the main guy for a team that’s likely going to be in the hunt for the No. 1 overall pick. But he’s looking at it from a different perspective.

It’s a chance for Mrazek to prove he can stay healthy handling a heavy workload and perform at a starter-type level while doing so.

“I’m looking forward to playing a lot of games, hopefully,” Mrazek said. “It’s been a tough two seasons with injuries, so that’s something I want to put aside and have fun on the ice and enjoy every moment because being hurt is not fun. It sucks. That’s something I’m positive about. I want to play as many games as I can and we’ll go from there.”

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