Carter Mazur has been a shining star in the Detroit Red Wings’ prospect for a few years now. The team has done a good job overall with their picks early in the first round, but great teams need to find contributors in the later rounds as well if they want to reach the heights that Detroit longs to reach once again. When the Red Wings selected Mazur in the third round of the 2021 Draft, nobody expected him to develop this well in such a short time, and he now looks like a high-end NHL prospect.
What makes Mazur special is his work ethic which can be seen when he is hounding opposing puck carriers and winning countless puck battles, all while providing good offensive value, primarily as a shooter. Mazur certainly isn’t the most dynamic offensive talent skill-wise, but he is a well-rounded winger who should provide a ton of two-way value no matter the spot he fills in the lineup.
Everything about Mazur’s game stems from his remarkable compete level. His defensive game isn’t based on size or hockey sense like some of the NHL’s great young defensive forwards (Dylan Cozens and Anton Lundell come to mind), but rather it is based on his unwavering motor that keeps him fighting and engaged in every play. Mazur’s offensive game is also based on effort and not dynamic speed or skill, though he does have an excellent shot and a knack for getting to loose pucks in traffic.
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Don’t get me wrong, Mazur has more than enough speed, skill, and hockey sense to stick in the NHL, but none of those traits stand out to me nearly as much as his compete level. He will be a formidable forechecker in the NHL someday and could play on both special teams as needed.
Mazur is a very physical player, willing to get into skirmishes along the boards or to fight for positioning in front of the net. When he has the puck in the offensive zone, he’s not afraid to charge into the dangerous areas, even if it means he could get clocked by an opposing defender. For someone who is only 6-feet tall, Mazur is surprisingly hard to knock off of pucks and he has shown a strength and determination while fighting through contact that bodes well for his NHL projection.
Mazur’s Draft Year
Something you may not know about Mazur is that, although he was drafted 70th overall in the 2021 Draft, he was actually first eligible to be drafted in the 2020 Draft and was skipped over by every team. His 2019-20 season was uninspiring to say the least so it frankly makes sense that he went undrafted. Six goals and 13 points in 47 USHL games doesn’t scream “future NCAA star with NHL top-six potential!” but he managed to follow that up with a phenomenal year in the USHL that led to him being re-considered by many teams in the following draft.
The 2020-21 season was a game-changer for Mazur as he began to develop the strength and size needed to take advantage of his great work ethic. His offensive game popped that year as well, scoring 20 goals and 44 points in 47 games as the captain of the Tri-City Storm. It was expected that Mazur would be drafted this time around when the 2021 Draft arrived, though the next few years of his development were still really up in the air.
Mazur put any fears to rest as soon as he entered the NCAA, scoring 38 points in 41 games as a freshman during the 2021-22 season, earning himself Rookie of the Year honors in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) as a member of the University of Denver Pioneers. He followed that up with a 20-goal, 37-point Sophomore season as a leader for Denver before signing an entry-level contract (ELC) with the Red Wings last Spring.
What’s Next for Mazur?
Mazur is one of the handful of young players who will be fighting to try and earn a roster spot at the Red Wings’ training camp this week, alongside Elmer Söderblom and Marco Kasper. While he could certainly surprise at training camp and earn a spot off the hop, my best guess is that Mazur will spend most of this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL as one of their top players.
After signing his ELC last year, Mazur got his first taste of professional hockey, scoring three goals and six points in a brief six game run. His play during that time was encouraging and he kept up with the increased pace of play quite well. If Mazur spends most of the season in the AHL, I think he will be a top-six player for the Griffins, likely spending significant time on the top power play unit where he excels from the bumper spot.
When Could Mazur be in Detroit?
Mazur could be in Detroit by October if he shines during training camp, though I think it’s most likely he spends this season in Grand Rapids and works his way up from there. A late season callup doesn’t seem out of the question at all for Mazur although I expect he’ll be fighting with Kasper for that privilege.
I think it’s safe to project Mazur as a full-time part of the Red Wings’ lineup at the start of the 2024-25 season, most likely in a bottom six role since his hard-nosed style could help the team to get more physical and difficult to play against, two traits that the team’s coaching staff have brought up a lot over the past 12 months or so. I think a really good case scenario for Mazur is that he becomes a great middle-six scorer who can move up the lineup when called upon, kind of like David Perron has been for much of his career.
Mazur likely won’t be a leading scorer but he will be a spark plug type of player who excels in a playoff hockey atmosphere and brings his teammates into the fight. It won’t be long before Mazur is a fan favorite in Detroit on top of playing an important role in their lineup on a nightly basis. All eyes are now on his performance at the Red Wings’ training camp that opened up on Thursday to see where he begins this upcoming season.