Photo Credit: Omaha Lancers
Michael Hrabal is a 2023 NHL Draft eligible goaltender prospect and he plays for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers.
Hrabal hails from Praha (Prague), Czechia and played in the HC Sparta Praha system (U16, U17 and U20) for the past few years before coming over to the United States.
Hrabal had multiple options on the table when coming to North America. He was taken in the 2021 USHL Futures Draft by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the ninth round and was taken in the CHL Import Draft by the Regina Pats. Hrabal is a UMass commit and has opted to play in the USHL to keep his NCAA eligibility.
In August of 2022, the Fighting Saints had traded Hrabal with a 2023 9th round pick and a 2024 10th round pick to the Lancers for a second rounder in the 2023 USHL Futures Draft.
This season, he has split the net (50-50) with Swiss goaltender Kevin Pasche. Pasche has fared slightly better than Hrabal in net, but not by much. As of March 18, 2023, Hrabal had a 3.18 GAA and a .899 SV% in 26 games played. Pasche had a 3.07 GAA and a .901 SV% in 26 games.
D.O.B – January 20, 2005
Nationality – Czech
Draft Eligibility – 2023
Weight –209 lbs
Position – Goaltender
Catches – Left
Hrabal’s Style Of Play
When you watch Hrabal play in net, the two skills that you see immediately is speed and post security. He’s athletic and nimble. Hrabal uses his speed and athleticism nicely to shift his positioning while sprawling out to shut down high danger shots. He has excellent post security, he takes away a lot of space in net when the opposition is driving the puck in the corner and behind the red line. In addition to his post security, he does a good job of widening himself and taking up space down low.
I’ve grabbed a lot of highlight reel saves for Hrabal. You will be entertained. Check out this sequence in which he sprawls out and quickly re-shifts his positioning to ensure that he eliminates space to shut the door. But, I like the decision that Hrabal took to sprawl out. He selected the moment in which he had multiple teammates near the crease and the teammates are taking away high danger shooting lanes. That forces the shooter to shoot low and Hrabal sprawling out takes away the low shooting lanes.
Take a look at this toe pad save. A quick extension of his right led pad and Hrabal takes away space down low. The attacker has to shoot top shelf when skating east – west and that would be very tough to pull off. Hrabal doesn’t leave much space at all.
Here is another excellent toe pad save to check out.
As you have seen in the last few clips, Hrabal has quick reactionary movements and extends out his leg pad at exactly the right moment.
In the next clip, you’ll see how fluid and quick Hrabal is when reacting to a centered pass to the slot from the half-wall while standing up. He quickly shifts over to shut the door on a backdoor threat.
While he is speedy with shifting over when standing up, he does struggle with speed when shifting over in the butterfly. In the second half of the season, Hrabal has struggled regularly with shifting his positioning quickly in the butterfly and will opt to stand up before shifting over. Unfortunately, that has led to a few backdoor tip-in goals.
Here is an example of Hrabal trying to shift over laterally in the butterfly, but his speed when shifting over isn’t quick enough to react to the shot.
Hrabal’s rebound control is quite good. He routinely pushes pucks to low danger and uses his size well to do so. Hrabal will extend his blocker out and times it right to make contact with the puck. Same with his pads and his stick.
Hrabal will cough up a few high danger rebounds during each game. The high danger rebounds that he coughs up usually comes as a result of Hrabal struggling to glove pucks. Instead of gloving and trapping the puck, the puck ends up ricocheting off of the glove.
Hrabal does a great job of tracking puck movement from further out when he has traffic in front of him. He manages to shift past the attacker with ease consistently when facing an attacker who is looking to eliminate his sight lines. Should the attacker continue to move around the crease east-west, Hrabal re-shifts his positioning to keep his eye on the puck. His ability to quickly re-shift to open up sight lines has led to a lot of gloved shots in traffic. Sometimes, he won’t be able to get his glove on the puck and he’ll opt to push the puck with his blocker to low danger, but he does do a great job of nabbing those shots with his glove.
Here are a few clips of him gloving pucks with traffic at the crease.
Sometimes, you will notice Hrabal struggling to track the trajectory of the puck. An opponent will shoot for the far side and Hrabal won’t react according to where the puck is headed. That has led to Hrabal misidentifying where he should extend his glove or blocker. Hrabal has the ability to be an NHL goaltender, but he does need to work on tracking the trajectory of pucks going far side because if he doesn’t he will then face shooters targeting the far side on repeat.
Hrabal does project to be a starting NHL goaltender, but there are a few areas in his game that will need refinement in order to get him NHL ready. I’d like to see Hrabal shift quicker to shooting threats who are in back door areas. When in the butterfly, he is struggling to shift over in time and take on shots squared up. With that said, Hrabal is forced to make more desperation saves. In addition, as I just mentioned in the above paragraph, he also needs to address reading the trajectory and reacting with a well-placed glove extension on far side shots.
Hrabal does offer great post security, quick re-shifting when standing up, athleticism and the ability to maintain sight lines when traffic intensifies at the crease. Those attributes are exactly what I’m looking for in a goaltender. Hrabal does have some areas to work on, but offers more than others in the 2023 NHL goaltending class.
March 18, 2023
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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