The Minnesota Wild had many prospects competing at the recently completed 2022 World Junior Championships (WJC), with eight players spread across five teams. Playing all positions from a wide range of draft picks, Wild fans had a fantastic view of the team’s prospect pool. With so much talent, some players will shine while others fail to live up to their expectations. However, three players, in particular, exceeded even the loftiest hopes for a strong showing at the tournament.
Brock Faber – Team USA
Defenseman Brock Faber was brought in via trade with the Los Angeles Kings with a lot to prove to Wild fans as he deepens an already impressive prospect pool. Faber’s defensive talents were on display at the 2021 WJC, where he helped his team win gold, followed by a stint at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, and most recently, was named captain for the University of Minnesota heading into next season.
Faber was also named captain of Team USA and had a strong performance through five games. He claimed the top defensive pairing beside New Jersey Devil prospect Luke Hughes and held it for the entire tournament. Averaging over 19 minutes of ice time per game against the opposition’s best offense, Faber finished the tournament with two points, a plus-10 rating, and was not on the ice for an even-strength goal against. He looks like he is well on his way to being a key shut-down defender for his home state Minnesota Wild.
Servac Petrovsky – Team Slovakia
When the Wild selected Servac Petrovsky in the sixth round of this year’s draft, he seemed like a typical late-round pick that was a long shot for an NHL career but with some good skills to build on. The undersized center was known for his shooting and puck-reading abilities after a decent season with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he managed 54 points in 65 games. Even after being named to Team Slovakia, he was not considered to be one of the Wild’s top prospects to watch.
Petrovsky apparently took that to heart and scored the best goal by any Wild prospect at the tournament only three minutes into the first game. Using his speed, he was first on the puck, stayed strong on his skates and drove to the net with leverage on the defender, and chipped the puck into the net. He continued this impressive play throughout Slovakia’s five games as he was promoted to a first-line role, named player of the game against Finland, and topped it off as a top three player of the tournament for Slovakia. As he also only turned 18 years old this month he will likely be part of the 2023 WJC in December/January, where he will have a chance to show Wild fans that he was an absolute steal as a late-round pick.
Jesper Wallstedt – Team Sweden
The heir apparent to the Wild’s net, Jesper Wallstedt came into the WJC with perhaps the highest expectations on a goalie, or any player, and somehow exceeded those expectations after being voted the top goaltender of the tournament and collecting a bronze medal for his efforts.
Wallstedt manned the net for Sweden for five games, including all three games in the medal rounds where he was beaten only once in each game. After a subpar opening performance, Wallstedt regained his form and finished the tournament with a 1.62 goals-against average (GAA) and a .940 save percentage (SV%).
His calm demeanor highlighted his positional skills in a way that made him appear to be in complete control of all situations. Wild fans are in for a treat as early as this season when Wallstedt begins his pro career in North America, playing for the Iowa Wild in the AHL.
Only Four Months Until 2023 WJC
With a strange schedule altered by COVID, the 2023 WJC is just around the corner, and Wild fans will have another strong group of prospects to watch. Faber and Wallstedt may not be around, as they will be too old to qualify, but Petrovsky will look to continue his strong play, while first-round picks Carson Lambos and Liam Ohgren will hope to have better individual performances.
Being from the east coast of Canada, I’ve grown up immersed in hockey since before I was old enough to walk. The Minnesota Wild joined the league right as I was trying to find a favourite team and I have been committed to them ever since. I like to take breaks from my day job of writing reports as a Scientist by writing articles about my hockey passion. Follow me on twitter @tysmck15 for my latest.