Moving and in need an extra hand? Call Stanislav Svozil. A ride to the airport? Svozil is your man.
OK, we’re joking a bit, but the Svozil has been one of the best helpers in junior hockey this year. The third-round draft pick of the Blue Jackets in 2021 has racked up 47 assists this season in 38 games with Regina of the Western Hockey League, placing him tied for sixth in the league in helpers.
It’s all been part of an impressive season for the defenseman, who has not only been one of the top producers from the blue line for his club team, he turned heads with his impressive showing as captain of the Czechia squad at the World Juniors that earned the country a medal at the popular tournament for the first time since 2005.
Svozil has always been a touted young player — he reached the top Czech league at age 16 and was considered by some a potential first-round pick — with a knack for showing well on both sides of the ice. This year, though, the 19-year-old has taken a major step forward and is viewed by many as someone who could be a key part of the CBJ blue line in coming seasons.
“My goals (this year) were to be better than last year,” he told Dylan Tyrer on the last episode of the Pipeline Podcast. “I think that’s pretty good so far, but there are a couple of things I can improve more which is defense. It’s better than last year, but I still can improve it. Same with my offense. I think offense is pretty good this year, but I can improve almost everything.”
A left-shot defenseman with lots of poise offensively with the puck on his stick, Svozil has signed an entry-level contract with the Jackets and could start his pro journey full-time next season.
To hear more from Svozil, including his friendship with fellow Regina standout Connor Bedard, his experience at the World Juniors, and how he’s adapted to life in North America, listen to the Pipeline Podcast.
Monsters Getting Hot
Don’t look now but things are heating up for the Cleveland Monsters.
The Jackets’ top farm team has seemingly found its groove of late, boosted by some increased health and a little more certainty in the lineup now that things have settled a bit in Columbus as well.
With last night’s 2-1 win over Rochester in the books, the Monsters have won three straight and six of the last eight, putting the team right back on the cusp of a playoff spot. Five teams make the postseason in the league’s North Division, and Cleveland’s 20-20-3-2 record puts it just two points behind Rochester for fifth place. The Monsters are also just three points behind fourth-place Laval with two games in hand, not to mention four points behind third-place Syracuse.
In other words, Cleveland has put itself in a spot to battle to the finish for the chance to return to postseason play for the first time since 2018-19.
Last night’s win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse was a bit out of character for Cleveland, as a team that has scored a lot of goals this year but struggled to keep them out of the net was able to ride its defense to the victory. Owen Sillinger scored in the first period, then Josh Dunne potted the winner early in the third, while Jet Greaves stopped 33 shots in the victory.
That continued a strong run of form for Greaves, who has stepped up with Daniil Tarasov nursing an injury. Greaves is 3-1-0 in his last four starts, allowing just eight goals in that span and posting a .932 save percentage.
Cleveland also swept visiting Belleville over the weekend at home, starting with a 6-2 victory Friday night followed by a 3-2 final Saturday. In the high-scoring opener, All-Star Jake Christiansen led the way with a goal and three assists, while the team got three-point games from Sillinger (1-2-3) and first-round pick David Jiricek (0-3-3). Dunne, Trey Fix-Wolansky, Cole Fonstad and Erik Bradford also scored. In the Saturday finale, Christiansen, Fix-Wolansky and Fonstad scored, while Justin Richards had three assists and Pavel Cajan made 21 saves.
The Monsters now hit the road for three straight games this weekend – a Friday contest at Grand Rapids before two at Chicago on Saturday and Sunday.
Dumais vs. Bedard
It’s not exactly a burning question in the hockey world, but it is a fun one to follow.
So far this season, the Canadian junior hockey ranks have been dominated in the score sheet by two players.
One of the presumed No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft in Bedard. The other is Blue Jackets draft pick Jordan Dumais, a third-rounder in the 2022 draft who has racked up points all season with Halifax of the QMJHL.
They’re on opposite sides of the country and thought of slightly differently in NHL circles — Bedard is assumed to be a generational talent while Dumais, while a tremendously talented prospect, saw 95 players picked ahead of him last summer — but it seems likely the two will battle tooth and nail down the stretch for the CHL scoring crown.
The first competition that will be settled between the two will be who will reach the century mark first, and it should happen this weekend. After consecutive three-point games over the weekend for the Mooseheads, Dumais currently has a CHL-best 98 points on 38 goals and 60 assists in 47 games. Bedard, meanwhile, has a 48-48-96 line, albeit in 39 contests.
Bedard has a slight edge in points per game, but both are filling up the stat sheet like crazy and should have a fun battle to the end. Bedard currently leads the Canadian junior ranks in goals, while Dumais is atop the chart in assists.
Both play next on Friday, and considering Dumais a couple of time zones east of Bedard, he might have the edge when it comes to getting to 100 first. Both are serious talents, though, who could be in the NHL sooner rather than later.
- Dmitri Voronkov has always played a postseason style game, and the Russian forward appears to be rounding into form as the KHL playoffs near. The CBJ 2019 fourth-round draft pick was injured early in the season for Ak Bars Kazan but has found his game as he’s found his health. In his last seven games, Voronkov has four goals and five assists for nine points, not to mention a plus-8 rating. Ak Bars currently leads its division and is fifth overall in the KHL in points.
- Staying in Russia, two weeks ago we wrote about how 2021 fifth-round pick Nikolai Makarov had carved out a full-time role with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. Then last week, the defenseman notched his first career goal at the KHL level, tallying in an overtime win over Barys Astana. Makarov, who turned 20 in January, has topped at least 10 minutes of game action in eight straight games including a career-high 17:50 last week vs. Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
- 2021 fifth-round pick James Malatesta notched his 33rd goal of the season for Quebec of the QMJHL last night, giving him four goals in five games. Malatesta currently sits ninth in the league in goals for the first-place Remparts, who are the only team in the QMJHL’s Eastern Conference ahead of Dumais’ squad in Halifax.