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Canadiens’ Juraj Slafkovsky Makes History With Recent Award Win

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Montreal Canadiens’ forward Juraj Slafkovsky had one of the most impressive years of international performances in recent memory for a draft-eligible player, and he was rewarded for it earlier this week.

During a sporting awards ceremony in Slovakia, Slafkovsky was named the Slovak Hockey Player of the Year, the youngest ever to do so, according to Slovak hockey insider Tomáš Prokop. He added a few more awards to his haul by also being named the top forward (hockey) and the best U-20 player (hockey) as well.

In a year that saw Slafkovsky rise through the ranks from top-10 prospect to the eventual 1st overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the 18-year-old was at his best when representing his home country. Slafkovsky put himself in the conversation for the top-5 of the 2022 NHL Draft right off the bat with an impressive showing for Slovakia at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in August of 2021. On a line with fellow Canadiens prospect Filip Mesar and 2023 eligible prospect Dalibor Dvorsky, Slafkovsky was a force in the tournament, putting up three goals and six assists for nine points in just five games. The impressive top-line powered Slovakia to a silver medal finish, the highest finish for Slovakia in the 20-year history of the tournament.

Slafkovsky would once again be called to represent his home country, this time for the Olympics. Immediately being placed in Slovakia’s top-six by head coach Craig Ramsay, Slafkovsky’s combination of size and speed stood out on the smaller ice surface; making an immediate impact against men. He led the tournament in scoring with seven goals in seven games and helped power Slovakia to an historic bronze-medal finish at the Olympics.  His offensive contributions earned him the MVP honours, making him the youngest player to ever receive the title of MVP at the Olympics.

To follow up his historic performance at the Olympics, Slafkovsky was once again called to represent his country, this time at the IIHF World Championships. Reuniting with Slovakia’s head coach Ramsay, Slafkovsky picked up right where he left off at the Olympics. He was the most used forward during every game and put up another good offensive showing with three goals and six assists for nine points in eight games. Unfortunately for Slafkovsky, Slovakia could not bring home another medal at this tournament, as host Finland eliminated them in the quarter-finals.

Juraj Slafkovsky isn’t going to spend much time basking in all this glory; however, as Prokop confirms that Slafkovsky will be in Montreal next week to begin preparation for camp to crack the Montreal Canadiens’ roster right away. It will be interesting to see how training camp plays out for the power forward, but he certainly won’t be lacking confidence in showing what he could do.

 

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