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  • Servac Petrovsky Shined In Two-Way Role At World Junior Championships

    Image courtesy of Photo credit: MNW Young Guns (@mnwprospects) on X
    Tony Abbott

    The Minnesota Wild aren't quite as well represented at the 2024 World Junior Championship as their fans would have hoped. Their 2023 draft class is largely not there. First-rounder Charlie Stramel didn't get an invite after attending the 2022 and 2023 tournaments. Second-rounder Rasmus Kumpulainen is in Gothenburg, Sweden with Team Finland but has largely been relegated to a healthy scratch. Team Canada snubbed Riley Heidt despite his staggering 68 points in 34 WHL games. 

    While all of that is certainly disappointing, the Wild are represented at the top of the scoring leaderboard in this year's tournament. That representation comes from an unlikely source. It's not 2022 first-rounder Liam Öhgren; it's the center the Wild took five rounds and 166 picks later.

    Team Slovakia's Servác Petrovský. 

    Unfortunately for Petrovský and the 5,447,000 or so other folks in Slovakia, their tournament ended on Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime loss in the quarterfinal. That means Petrovský's point total for the tournament is capped at five goals and nine points. He's currently tied for second in the tournament in both numbers (Team USA's Gavin Brindley and Cutter Gauthier have 6 goals and 10 points, respectively). But Teams Czechia, Finland, Sweden, and USA will have another two games to rack up stats. 

    Still, it's a bit of a breakout tournament for Petrovský after two years of solid but unspectacular showings at the 2022 and 2023 tournaments, where he scored four goals and six points in nine games. Suddenly, Petrovský is up to a career stat line of nine goals and 15 points in 14 career Under-20 World Junior Championship games. The point total is tied for 69th among all U-20 WJC players since 2000, with some very interesting comparables.

    Servác Petrovsky: 14 GP - 9 goals - 15 points
    Kirill Kaprizov: 14 GP - 10 goals - 15 points
    Nikita Kucherov: 14 GP - 7 goals - 15 points
    Sam Reinhart: 14 GP - 7 goals - 16 points
    Connor McDavid: 14 GP - 4 goals - 15 points

    Of course, a strong World Junior career won't guarantee you a great NHL career -- shout-out to Minnesota Wild legend Jordan Schroeder (19 GP - 7 Goals - 27 points, tied for 3rd since 2000). But these are massive games on as big of a stage as any 20-year-old can reasonably find themselves upon, so it has to mean something.

    It also has to be a good sign that Petrovský is tied for fourth among Slovakian scorers at the World Juniors since 2000. Richard Panik and Tomas Tatar are two of the players to finish above him, who both went on to play 500-plus NHL games. Tatar has scored 468 points in 817 games and counting.

    Slovakia had a strong offensive team this season, with first-round picks like Filip Mesar (drafted No. 26 overall in 2022), Dalibor Dvorský (No. 10 overall in 2023), and Samuel Honzek (No. 16 in 2023) skating alongside Petrovský. But the unheralded sixth-rounder led the team in goals and tied Mesar for the scoring lead.

    Just like David Spacek (fifth round, 2022 Draft) in last year's tournament, it looks like the Wild might have something going in Petrovský after such a strong performance. The only potential damper on Petrovský Mania is that his big-game success in the WJC hasn't translated much to regular-season success in the OHL. 

    Petrovský has 28 points in 28 games for the Owen Sound Attack in his last season of junior eligibility. That's not bad by any means, but it also doesn't show a lot of growth from his previous OHL seasons, where he scored 109 points in 127 games. You typically want to see prospects getting more dominant as their junior careers go on. Barring a huge second half, Petrovský appears to be leveling off. 

    Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 20.58.05.png

    As of now, Hockey Prospecting gives him just a 3% chance of becoming a star (scoring 0.7 points per game over his career) and a 39% chance of playing 200 NHL games. That's not impossible odds, by any means. As you can see, David Backes and Tyler Johnson had similar trajectories and became strong, long-time top-six forwards in the NHL. Petrovský was also one of the youngest players in the 2022 draft class, meaning he might have a bit more runway.

    But even still, it's unlikely that Petrovský will take this WJC momentum and ride it to stardom. The good news is: that's OK. In fact, it's more than OK. Petrovský's performance is still great news for the Wild, and it goes beyond what he did on the scoresheet. Let's look at Mitch Brown and Lassi Alanen's microstat tracking during the tournament:

    Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 21.04.12.png

    Petrovský was one of the best trigger-men of the tournament, thanks in part to Mesar's performance as a distributor. That's encouraging enough, but what's really jaw-dropping is his defensive performance, where Petrovský ranked in the 100th percentile. In simpler terms, he was basically the tournament's best.

    In this way, he played a bit like a Baby Eriksson Ek in this tournament, crashing the net and protecting his own, leaving the skill and speed work to his faster, more talented teammates. However, his impact was no less felt for Slovakia in terms of points and beyond. He consistently turned defense into offense. 

    Most NHL forwards are top-six players as they rise up the junior ranks. But not all of them make it to the top six, so what separates a player like Jordan Schroeder from Jordan Greenway? It's adapting to a new role, one more focused on two-way play. Petrovský playing elite defense against the top players in his age group hints that he can be one of the players who will adapt as they get closer to the NHL.

    If this tournament is any indication of what Minnesota gets from Petrovský as an NHL player, this is a grand slam in the sixth round. But that doesn't need to be the bar for whether that was a successful pick. After all, the Wild took him with the 185th pick in the draft. If all Petrovský winds up as is a Connor Dewar-type, a fourth-line center who can defend and score the occasional goal, even that's a home run. Heck, if Petrovský eventually tops out as solid AHL depth, we're talking about a bloop single. 

    Wild fans hadn't had much to watch in this year's tournament. Fortunately, Petrovský stepped up and gave the State of Hockey some excitement for their team's future. It's a notable performance from an often-overlooked prospect, and Petrovský just showed that he's a dark horse to keep an eye on in Minnesota's loaded farm system. 

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    I'm suggesting we call Petro Tiger: Put the Tiger in your tank! Maybe too much Exxon?

    What I don't understand is why his game is not translating in the OHL? A quick look around shows the Owen Sound Attack in 7th out of 10 places in their division. They're 5th in scoring in their division (average). 

    Could it be that Tiger plays on a bad team? That would certainly explain the low point totals. I'm not sure how the playoff structure works in the O, but I would have to think 7th isn't a good place to be. They're 1 point out of 6th but there's a lot of separation up the ladder from there. 

    Could Tiger benefit from a jr. trade? This would be my thought since he graduates this year. I'm not sure if he can be traded to a different league, but wouldn't it be sweet if he could be traded to Heidt's team?

    Another factor to consider is we drafted Tiger at 5'9" 16x. He is now at 5'11" 174 according to Elite Prospects. He's got some bulking up to do, but, his eyes have had to readjust to his new height. Wouldn't another inch up be nice?

    One thing is for sure, his WJC experience should have him back in Owen Sound being very confident. 

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    Rasmus Kumpulainen scores the Fins second goal to put them up 2-0 over USA in semi-final and team Canada crying the blues over lack of scoring when they left the PP and overall CHL scoring leader Riley Heidt at home.

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    4 minutes ago, Sviginak said:

    Rasmus Kumpulainen scores the Fins second goal to put them up 2-0

    I was just about to report that good news as well, along with the bad news that USA is heading into the 2nd period down 2 goals to Finland. The US team has far more NHL talent on it, so hopefully they are up for the comeback.

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    Eight minutes left in second, USA getting the better of the chances by far  this period, and just scored to make it 2-1. Snuggerrud with the goal

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    5 hours ago, B1GKappa97 said:

    I'd love to know the MPH on those goals. The cam couldn't even keep up. 

    I'll trade Petro's miles per hour for an efficient miles per gallon.  heyo!! 

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    USA with a goal in the last 4 minutes and held on for the 3-2 victory. They'll face the Elite Swedes tomorrow night!

    Friday Finals game time is 12:30 Central time.

    3rd place game is at 8:00 Central, if anyone is interested in the tournament finale for Kumpulainen.

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