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Montreal Canadiens’ Plan For Juraj Slafkovsky



Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky

In the most recent edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Darren Dreger opined the Montreal Canadiens will probably end up assigning rookie Juraj Slafkovsky to the AHL.

“It’s believed, it’s likely Juraj Slafkovsky will be sent to the American Hockey League,” explained Dreger.

That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, seeing as the Canadiens have been open about their intentions when it comes to their first-overall pick.

“We’ve got to do what’s right for him,” said general manager Kent Hughes earlier this month. “If we do what we said when we drafted him, we weren’t looking for the best 18-year-old, we were looking for the best NHL player down the road, and I don’t think we do that without making the best decision for him, whether it’s the popular decision or not, we’re going to do what we believe is right.”

Slafkovsky has received roughly 10 minutes and 40 seconds of average ice time through his first four games of the season and currently finds himself slotted on the fourth line, alongside centre Jake Evans.

But before he’s assigned to the Laval Rocket, Dreger claims the Canadiens are looking for Slafkovsky to establish a professional identity, one that will eventually bring him success in the NHL.

“They want him to develop an NHL identity,” said Dreger. “They want to see him play more north-south. To use that big body. To be physical. They want him to have a better awareness of what he does when he’s away from the puck. Those are the qualities they’re trying to instill at this point. Don’t be surprised if they put him in the press box for a game or two, to let him watch. He’ll get sent down eventually.”

Slafkovsky hasn’t exactly emerged as a dominant physical presence, but he has shown he can use his wingspan to shut down scoring chances and passing lanes in the defensive zone.

He’s also done a fairly good job using his body to protect the puck in the offensive zone.

However, the comment regarding his awareness away from the puck definitely rings true. When Slafkovsky has the puck, he knows exactly where to go and what to do. When away from the puck, he’s often caught watching and out of position, creating chaos for his linemates.

But even with an accelerated NHL apprenticeship, it’s worth mentioning that Slafkovsky is one of the few Montreal Canadiens wingers that has posted positive underlying numbers.

Among left wings, Slafkovsky is first overall in the team when it comes to shot control, posting a 52 percent share of the shots during his shifts.

He’s also one of four Montreal Canadiens players that currently has a positive expected goals share (xGF%).

The numbers suggest that while he hasn’t yet scored a point, Slafkovsky is playing well above expectations given his age and experience.

(Statistics via NaturalStatTrick)

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IMO they should use the same mindset as they did with Mesar


Send him to Kitchener.

Marco D'Amico

Slafkovsky is more than ready to play in the AHL.


Mesar is starting his first game in the OHL on Friday.
Slafkovsky could benefit the same training as Mesar in the OHL with a strong team like Kitchener Rangers.

Marco D'Amico

The Rangers are 1-5-0. I wouldn’t say they’re strong.

Top line usage in Laval > Top line usage in the OHL.

The Canadiens would send him back to Finland before considering the OHL.

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