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Juraj Slafkovsky Now Has Golden Opportunity At Canadiens Camp

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Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky has a golden opportunity to make an impact at training camp and crack the roster, at least to start the season.

It’s no secret at this point: the Montreal Canadiens simply have too many forwards on their roster. The Canadiens are likely looking to remedy this, along with their current salary cap situation, by way of trade; but, in the meantime, the health status of certain forwards heading into camp could by the time, in more ways than one. With the status of Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Sean Monahan still up in the air, general manager Kent Hughes isn’t sure whether either of the three will be available to start the season, and that could be exactly the opportunity Slafkovsky needs to make an impact at training camp.

“We’re going to consistently have certain grey areas (with players) and Paul is one of those grey areas in terms of whether he’s ready to play at the start of the season or not,” said Hughes as to a timetable for the return of some of his injured forwards. “We do expect that Paul, whether it be Day 1 or a week or two weeks in, that Byron will be able to play this season.”

Hughes was also not confident that he would have either Sean Monahan or Jonathan Drouin ready by the start of the season either, as both seem close to a return early in the season, but it’s not a return he feels needs to be rushed for either player.

“When he had his hip surgery, it was supposed to be six or seven months and he came back in four months and I think he struggled with that by forcing the recovery and ending up making it a prolonged recovery,” said Hughes when asked of the health status of newly acquired Monahan. “I was very honest with him that we didn’t trade for him to play opening night. If it’s a week later it’s two weeks later, that’s fine. If it’s not opening night, I sense that it’s pretty close and I think the same thing for Jo (Drouin).”

Slafkovsky Speaks On His Goals For Camp, Summer In Montreal

Golden Opportunity For Montreal Canadiens Youngster

With Byron, Monahan and Drouin not at 100%, this opens the door for Juraj Slafkovsky to play a more important role during the Canadiens’ upcoming training camp than was initially predicted. Slafkovsky will now have a prime opportunity to prove that he is indeed NHL-ready and should start the year in Montreal, at least to start. The Canadiens’ seemingly down three NHL forwards, will now have the luxury of being able to keep Slafkovsky with the big club, at least to start, without the fear of having to place a player on waivers to get under the 23-man roster limit.

The other thing to keep into consideration is that, should neither of these players be available for opening night, the decision as to whether to keep Slafkovsky on the main roster for his nine-game trial becomes even easier. Due to being 18 years of age, Slafkovsky’s contract does not officially kick in until he plays 10 games at the NHL level. Should these forwards miss the first week or two of the regular season, the Canadiens will have the luxury of being able to keep Slafkovsky on the roster for that period of time in order to evaluate where he is in his development. If Slafkovsky can prove that he is fully ready for the NHL level, it could force the Canadiens to ultimately make a move before activating some of their injured forwards. This isn’t to say that he must make the NHL roster or it would be a dissapointment if he didn’t, but rather that the ball is now firmly in Slafkovsky’s court.

The 18-year-old now has a wide-open opportunity to crack the opening night roster if he impresses at training camp, and it should be an extra source of motivation for him going into rookie camp next week.

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Fred Harrison

Slaf should absolutely play 9 NHL games at start of the season then perhaps best to go to Laval to get grounded in North American system ..They could bring him back up after the trading deadline has passed . McTavish moved around after the draft . He is 20 , two years older than Slaf . The different deployment didn’t hurt McT one bit ….

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