Dalibor Dvorsky is something else.
There's a lot of attention surrounding the Slovakian U-18 program this year thanks to an influx of top talent for the 2022 and 2023 drafts. Forward Juraj Slafkovsky and defenseman Simon Nemec will both go early next summer and forward Filip Mesar and goaltender Rastislav Elias are both very promising prospects themselves.
And then there's Dvorsky, one of the top prospects for the 2023 selection process.
Through three games, Dvorsky has scored an incredible seven goals and 11 points to take the tournament lead over fellow 2023 phenom Matvei Michkov. So while the focus was on Slafkovsky and Nemec on the Slovakian roster, Dvorsky showed that he's ready for the spotlight.
Clearly, and unsurprisingly if you've followed his path to this date, the 2005-born Slovak center is one of the top prospects for an already top-loaded 2023 draft. Michkov, Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli are three of the top names at the moment, but Dvorsky, Quentin Musty, Brayden Yager and Theo Lindstein, among others, are all in the conversation right now. From a high-end perspective, the 2023 draft looks completely loaded, and Dvorsky is throwing his hat in the ring to be a top-three candidate behind Michkov and Bedard.
Yes, the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup hasn't been overly competitive with multiple blowouts each day, but we're still talking about an other-worldly performance from a player on a team that typically doesn't do that well internationally while playing against talent a year older than himself. He's the only player to hit double digits in points, and he did so after the second game. Ondrej Molnar (SVK) is the second-highest in points among U-17 players with six, while Mikhail Gulyayev is third with just four points.
"Talk about a kid who just knows where to be at the right time," a European scout said. "Michkov has always had it in him, but Dvorsky is nearly as good at getting the puck into a scoring position."
In domestic action, Dvorsky holds the record for the youngest player to score a goal in the top men's Slovak league, beating out former NHL star Marian Gaborik. Dvorsky was a 15th-round pick of the strong Chicago Steel of the USHL, a team that already houses Fantilli, among other top prospects. Dvorsky is set to spend the year in Sweden between AIK's U-18 and U-20 teams
"Michal Handzus said that he is the next Slovak big thing at center," Denník Šport journalist Tomáš Prokop said. "We had many years of problems with this position."
From a skill standpoint, Dvorsky is a tremendous shooter, particularly when it comes to getting off a quick release. His 6-foot-0 frame size is solid for his age, which helps him to physically stand up to older competition, something he has had to do for most of his hockey career. He's best when he's standing out front of the net, but he's good on the attack and can force mistakes. There aren't many offensive situations where you can't throw him out there, especially since the pressure never seems to get to him.
"I love his skill set and his (ability to feel out) goals," Prokop added. "On the offensive end, he was good in the men's game. He has to work on the defense, but I think he is making great progress."
The reviews have been glowing for the young scoring star, and when you watch him dominate a shift, it's clear why. There's still a long time until the 2023 NHL draft, and so much can change in an instant. But in a tournament with a ton of star power, Dvorsky has been the best. And that's a big reason why Slovakia has a chance to win gold for the first time ever on home ice, winning Group B after big wins over USA, Germany and Sweden.
It has been a miracle run for the Slovaks, and as long as Dvorsky continues to be the dominant force he has been over the past few days, the team should be in good shape.