The Minnesota Wild traded their final two selections in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, a sixth and seventh rounder, to move up to the 146th overall pick, in the fifth round. With that selection, the Wild took Pavel Novak, a right winger from the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.
Welcome to Minnesota, Pavel!#mnwild | #NHLDraft | @XcelEnergyMN pic.twitter.com/WLZvFrYw0u— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) October 7, 2020
A native of the Czech Republic, Novak is a right-shot winger for Kelowna and is listed at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. General Manager Bill Guerin and crew continue to show that height is not the biggest factor in selecting talent, as three of the Wild’s five selections are under six feet, and the other two come in at exactly six feet tall.
Novak was ranked 85th overall among all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and some expected him to come off the boards much earlier than late in the fifth round.
In the 2019-20 season playing for Kelowna, Novak scored 25 goals and 58 points in 55 total games to lead the Rockets in scoring. He also appeared in seven games that year for the Czech Republic’s U18 team and notched seven goals. For the 2020-21 season, he has been loaned to HC Stadion Litomerice of the Czech2 league.
Observers say that Novak’s skill is apparent the moment he steps onto the ice. He has good vision and playmaking ability, and that allowed him to be Kelowna’s leading scorer last season. Despite his size, he is not afraid to be physical, and he will use his body when necessary.
Novak will now join a list of other Wild prospects to put up impressive numbers in a junior league, but time will tell how his skills transition into professional hockey.