Why the Blues, Dalibor Dvorsky’s agent decided to move him to OHL Sudbury — to the delight of his new GM

A week before the Blues made Dalibor Dvorsky the No. 10 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Slovakian center made it official that he was changing clubs in Europe for the 2023-24 season.

After playing two seasons with AIK in Sweden’s second-highest hockey league (Allsvenskan), Dvorsky signed a two-year contract with IK Oskarshamn in the country’s top league (Swedish Hockey League).

“There were teams interested, so he had to choose between Allsvenskan and the SHL,” J.P. Barry of CAA Hockey, Dvorsky’s agent, told The Athletic on Wednesday. “Eventually, the SHL club made a big case that they would develop him, and by mid-year, he should be able to play in a top-six (forward) role.”

However, the situation did not play out as planned, and on Wednesday, Oskarshamn announced that the sides had mutually agreed to terminate Dvorsky’s contract. The Blues later confirmed that he was being re-assigned to the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

“After evaluating Dalibor’s situations in Sweden, and talking with him and his representatives, we jointly decided that the opportunity to play regular minutes at Sudbury against his peer group in the OHL would be the best thing for his development,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement. “We look forward to watching his continued growth as a player.”

The situation in Sweden has been playing out for the past month or so and became an issue that needed to be addressed in the past couple of weeks.

Dvorsky, 18, wasn’t progressing toward a top-six role with Oskarshamn — and in fact didn’t have much of a role at all. The club was in last place (14th) in the SHL standings with a record of 2-8. Dvorsky didn’t have any points, and his ice time had been limited to just 1 minute, 35 seconds and 44 seconds in the past two games, respectively.

Dvorsky’s game log

Game Points Plus-Minus Time on Ice









































Barry and the Blues were monitoring the situation closely.

“We saw the ice time he was getting in the early going,” Barry said. “Then the team struggled and I thought it would start getting better, but it got worse. They started losing, and the pressure over there, you’re thinking they’re going to get relegated and the whole business part sets in. It’s not a good environment for an 18-year-old player who really needs to play every day.”

Dvorsky was the Blues’ best player at their prospect camp in July and figured to have a chance to make the team out of training camp next September, or if not, a year later. But whether he was one year away or two, it wasn’t going to happen with the lack of development opportunity in Sweden, and so after several conversations between Barry, Armstrong and Blues director of player personnel Tim Taylor, they were ready to take action.

“Doug and I felt, it’s time to go to the OHL,” Barry said. “If we really want to maximize his role and his minutes, that’s the right place versus going to another team (in Europe) in a pro league over there.”

In 2022, Sudbury selected Dvorsky No. 68 overall in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) import draft, where CHL teams claim the rights of eligible players who don’t have residency in Canada or the U.S.

The Wolves thus had Dvorky’s rights. If he goes straight from Europe to the NHL, they never see him. But if there’s ever a decision to play in the CHL, he’s their property.

So imagine the elation of Sudbury GM Rob Papineau, who was part of the management group that took a chance on Dvorsky.

“It’s a good day!” Papineau told The Athletic on Wednesday, calling it a “calculated risk” to take a player who may never show up in your city.

“No one is 100 percent certain of the direct path and how it’s going to go,” Papineau said. “We knew that he was lined up in Sweden. But if you don’t make that selection in the (import) draft, then you never have the ability to be part of the conversation.

“We had good communication with Dalibor right from the start. He’s been nothing but first-class, and he just carries himself like a pro. The conversations have always been extremely positive, and we felt if there were ever a time on the development side that the CHL was going to be a good option for him, we wanted to be the team to have him come to us.”

Sudbury (4-3) is in third place in the OHL’s Central Division and has a couple of other NHL prospects on its roster in winger Quentin Musty (San Jose Sharks) and center David Goyotte (Seattle Kraken).

“Dalibor is walking into a great situation,” Papineau said. “We’re bringing him in to be a top-line guy. That’s where he fits in our plans right now. The one area we have been struggling early on is our power play, and that’s sort of an area that he specializes in as well. He’s going to get a lot of opportunity to develop in all situations.

“Our goal is to win the Memorial Cup here in Sudbury, and on an individual level for him, help him get to St. Louis as quickly as possible. Everybody wants the same thing for this guy. We all want him to succeed and become a great St. Louis Blue.”

Barry is happy with the fit.

“Sudbury’s got a good team and he’s going to play a big role,” he said. “He’s going to play against other top picks that he can compare himself to. I think it’s going to be a nice change.

“I think, more than anything, he’s a young kid that wants to play a lot. Now that he’s made the decision, he’s excited. It was a tough couple weeks when you’re not playing at that age.”

To get Dvorsky on the ice, the Wolves first have to get him eligible with the IIHF, which requires a transfer process from Sweden to the Canadian Hockey Federation.

“It doesn’t take that long,” Papineau said. “As soon as that piece of paper is stamped, he’ll be wearing a Wolves jersey. We’re hoping to get him in the lineup as soon as possible.”

It could be as soon as Saturday’s game against the Barrie Colts.

“We’re going to try to fly him over here and see if we can get him playing this weekend,” Barry said.

In hindsight, Barry acknowledged that having Dvorsky play in Allsvenskan this season might have been a better decision. But now that that’s done, things might’ve worked out for the best.

“Yeah, in hindsight, probably stay with Allsvenskan because it’s a really good developmental league, or come to junior rather than the SHL,” Barry said. “The SHL, it can work, but you just have to have the right situation. But you want to play in the highest level possible if you’re him, and I think the intentions were good on both sides.”

(Photo: Dale Preston / Getty Images)

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