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Servac Petrovsky Reminded Wild Fans Not to Sleep On Him

Credit: Screenshot, "Canadian Hockey League" Youtube

The Minnesota Wild have so many big names in the World Junior Championships. Brock Faber, Captain of Team USA, star goalie Jesper Wallstedt of Team Sweden, Wallstedt’s teammate Liam Öhgren, and Team Canada’s Carson Lambos are either first-round prospects or equivalent value.

In addition to them, Minnesota’s got an embarrassment of riches outside of the tournament. Marco Rossi, Danila Yurov, Marat Khusnutdinov, and Adam Beckman are also garnering attention this summer. Because of this, there’s only so much oxygen to talk about these prospects. Some good prospects are inevitably going to fly under the radar.

Servác Petrovsky is one of those players. Part of that has to do with his draft status, as he was a sixth-rounder (185th overall) in this year’s draft. By definition, the Wild liked him the most and still passed on him six times. But the other part of the equation is Petrovsky is on a Team Slovakia team no one expects to make much noise. Slovakia’s three first-rounders from 2022, Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec, and Filip Mesar, opted out of the tournament.

With those three, they could have a fighting chance against Canada and Finland. Alas, they lost an exciting game to Team Czechia.

You can’t blame Petrovsky, though. He made an impact early and often. He scored the first goal of the game, out-racing two Czech defenders to a loose puck, then making a power move to cut to the net.

Czechia held the advantage for most of the day, out-shooting Slovakia heavily to erase a two-goal lead, then go up 4-2. Slovakia tied the game in the third period, though, and Petrovsky again made a great play in a clutch situation.

An errant clearing attempt bounces back to Petrovsky, who immediately makes a heads-up play. Instead of taking a shot on a prepared Jan Bednar, he looks up and finds Matej Kaslik streaking towards the net. He goes around the Czech defenseman to feed him, and Kaslik jams it home.

So Petrovsky sits tied for fourth in scoring after Day 1 of the World Junior Tournament. It’s a small sample, and only six of the 10 teams have played, but some first-rounders he out-performed yesterday included Logan Cooley (3rd overall), Jiri Kulich (28th), and Brad Lambert (30th).

Surprised? It’s hard to blame anyone for not seeing a standout performance from a sixth-rounder coming. But this may be the last time Petrovsky should sneak up on us.

Petrovsky is one of Minnesota’s top prospects, according to Hockey Prospecting. Thanks to a strong performance in Slovakia’s second league at age 16, then a good debut season for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, Petrovsky rates as having a 20% likelihood of stardom. That’s seventh in the Wild’s system, above the likes of much more well-known prospects like Lambos and Beckman.

His top comparables are especially intriguing. They include Kyle Connor, Scott Gomez, and Evander Kane, and any outcome that even somewhat resembles those players would obviously be a home run for a sixth-rounder. Gomez draws attention, in particular, because of their similarly 5’11” but solid builds and mirroring trajectories.

Courtesy of Hockey Prospecting

Gomez was also a big-time producer in a more obscure league before taking a step back in his first season at the OHL. Petrovsky’s season shouldn’t read as too disappointing, though. He made the 2022 Draft cutoff by about five weeks, making him one of the youngest players in his class. Still, he scored 28 goals and 54 points in 65 games.

Those numbers finished fourth and third, respectively, on his team. They also compare decently to Marco Rossi’s draft-minus-one season. Rossi was one of the oldest players in his class, and relative to Petrovsky, Rossi was only about six weeks younger. Rossi had an advantage, scoring 29 goals in 53 games, but even if Rossi had played 65, Petrovsky would only have trailed him by seven goals.

They’re different players, of course. But the point is that Rossi took a huge jump from his draft-minus-one season to his draft year. Petrovsky is virtually the same age and has plenty of runway to develop.

And while he doesn’t have a standout skill like second-rounder Hunter Haight’s playmaking, Petrovsky is a player recognized as being generally good at everything. By the way, Petrovsky out-produced Haight last season.

The Athletic’s Corey Pronman gave him a third-round grade (92nd in the class), calling his puck skills below-average but praising his shot and compete level. Elite Prospects questions his skating. However, they call him a “pro-level defender” who excels at finding space on offense and striking with his shot when he gets an opportunity. His intelligence and hockey sense is also a standout, and you could definitely see that yesterday.

Is it particularly wise to get overly hyped up about one good game in a junior tournament? Probably not. But Petrovsky is more than one good game, too. His game against Czechia showed a lot of things that make him an interesting prospect, such as his knack for being in the right place at the right time. Petrovsky’s numbers suggest that he’s more than a typical sixth-round pick, even if he has a way to go before we can confidently declare him an NHLer.

But he doesn’t have to be a sure-fire NHLer yet, either. He’s a kid who literally turned 18 on Wednesday. He’s just expected to go out for an underdog Slovakian team and prove that he can play at a high level with his peers. He did just that against Czechia, and he showed fans that he’s much more than an afterthought in this tournament, and the Wild’s system.

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Credit: Screenshot, "Canadian Hockey League" Youtube

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