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Big, athletic Jan Bednar hopes to make 'Dominik Hasek saves' for the Red Wings


Ted Kulfan   | The Detroit News
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Detroit – Jan Bednar is familiar with Red Wings goaltenders.

Bednar is from the Czech Repubic, and two of his favorite goaltenders are from his native country and played for the Wings – Dominik Hasek and Petr Mrazek.

“When I was younger, I loved to make Dominik Hasek saves," said Bednar, 18, and the Wings’ fourth-round pick in last week’s Entry Draft, during a Zoom call with Detroit media. “I saw some documentary from 2002 when the Wings won the Stanley Cup, with Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman. I like them.

“I know Petr Mrazek. I talked with him two years ago (in the Czech Republic). He’s a great guy.”

The Wings made 12 selections in last week’s NHL Entry Draft, but among draft analysts, the most polarizing pick was Bednar.

It’s probably not that surprising, given Bednar is a goaltender, and the quirky, uncertain nature of the position.

Many goaltenders simply develop on different curves, suddenly find their peak performance and play with the highest degree of confidence years after being drafted – or even not being drafted by an NHL team at all.

Some young goaltenders are targeted and scouted to be NHL players, and some are not.

Many scouting services believe the Wings made a steal, getting Bednar where they did – while others feel it was a wasted pick on an uncertain prospect.

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The Wings obviously hope this young goaltender will continue to develop and make it to the NHL.

“Probably two of the best games I saw him (Bednar) play were in tournaments against the U.S. development program, and he was excellent in both of those games,” said Kris Draper, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “Phil Osaer, our goaltending development coach, is really excited about adding Bednar.”

Of all the teams Bednar was in touch with before the draft, the Wings were among the most interested.

“I had about four or five interviews with people from Detroit,” Bednar said. “Everyone (was) amazing. It’s a classy organization and I’m so happy to be part of this organization.”

Bednar certainly has the characteristics and intangibles to be successful in the NHL.

At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, he has the long body and athleticism teams covet. Scouts raved about Bednar’s ability to make outlandish, acrobatic saves – but are troubled by his tendency to get into funks where stoppable shots are missed.

Still, what Bednar thinks is the strength of his game is his calmness.

“I’m a really calm goalie,” Bednar said. “I like puckhandling (and make) plays with the puck. I’m a big goalie and I like big goalies, and yes, I'm a little athletic. But it’s not the most important thing for me. I just think I’m calm in the net.

“(Because) I’m a big goalie, I need speed and agility and I (am) working on that this summer. I will be prepared for this season.”

Bednar’s favorites among current NHL goalies are Commerce’s Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg) and Braden Holtby (Vancouver).

Bednar played against men the last two years in the Czech pro league, competing against future and former NHL players. For a young, inexperienced goaltender, the opportunity was invaluable.

“It was a great experience,” Bednar said. “I played my first game as a 16-year-old so it was great experience for me. I would like thank Karlovy Vary (Bednar’s Czech team) for this chance and great experience.”

Because of the pandemic, Bednar’s upcoming season has been upended just like everyone else’s.

Instead of playing with Acadie-Bathurst in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – Bednar was the second pick overall in the QMJHL draft – Bednar is practicing and working out with his hometown team Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.

The QMJHL has begun its season but has had numerous pauses because of the pandemic.

Bednar is anxious to get to North America and take the next step in his career.

“I’m waiting on (the flight) tickets,” Bednar said.

Jan Bednar

Pick: No. 107 overall (Round 4)

Position: Goaltender

Height/weight: 6-4/195 pounds

Last season: HC Sokolov (Czech Republic) — 3.26 goals-against average, .873 save percentage.

Scouting report: An athletic goalie who will contort his body in any direction to make a save, Bednar has starred in world tournaments and more than held his own playing against men in Czech pro league. Headed to Acadie-Bathurst in the Quebec junior league.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan