Minnesota Wild prospect Pavel Novak announced Friday that he is stepping away from hockey for a time because of a cancer diagnosis.
"Unfortunately, my health condition does not allow me to prepare for next season," Novak (@pnovak111) wrote in a statement released by the Wild on Twitter. "I was diagnosed with an oncological disease a few days ago and will soon begin treatment."
The 20-year-old forward signed a three-year entry level contract in May that starts with the 2022-23 season. He had 29 goals and 43 assists in 62 games for Kelowna in the Western Hockey League last season.
A native of the Czech Republic, he was a fifth-round pick (146th overall) by the Wild in 2020.
"The coming months will not be easy for me but I firmly believe that everything will turn out well and soon I will fly again on the ice with joy and passion!" Novak wrote. "I will be back stronger! Please respect my privacy."