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Juraj Slafkovsky’s Numbers Reveal Encouraging Progress

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Juraj Slafkovsky

MONTREAL– Juraj Slafkovsky has been the subject of numerous assessments in his young NHL career, ranging from encouraging anecdotes to harsh criticism.

Darren Dreger mentioned the plan for Slafkovsky is to eventually send the first-overall pick of the 2022 Draft to the AHL, so he can be given a healthy dose of minutes with the Laval Rocket, but Kent Hughes and Co. may have a difficult decision on their hands given Slafkovsky’s steady progress.

The Numbers

Slafkovsky’s underlying numbers took a big hit in the first game of the season. Lined up with Christian Dvorak and Brendan Gallagher, Slafkovsky’s line only controlled 25 percent of the shots in the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s worth noting the line faced John Tavares, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly for the majority of the game.

Game 2 was a completely different outcome, as Gallagher, Slafkovsky and Dvorak finished with over 50% of the shot share, an encouraging sign given the majority of the team struggled versus the Detroit Red Wings.

Game 3, however, was yet another difficult outing for the Slafkovsky line, especially when you consider they did not face a high level of competition against the Capitals.

Game 4 is where things got very interesting. The headline prior to the game was Slafkovsky’s demotion to the fourth line, but the fact of the matter is the decision by Martin St-Louis yielded the best on-ice results for Slafkovsky this season.

The fourth line, which also included Mike Hoffman and Jake Evans, controlled an eye-opening 78 percent of the shots, as well as 71 percent of the high-danger shots, an impressive leap from his play in the previous three games, as evidenced by the chart below.

 

Jiri Slafkovsky Stats

 

Slafkovsky, Hoffman and Evans continued their dominant ways on Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes, controlling 62 percent of the shots as well as 60 percent of the high-danger scoring chances.

For context, anything over 50 percent in terms of shot control is considered above replacement in the NHL. Anything in the 60 percent range is considered excellent.

Of course, Slafkovsky scored his first goal of the season against the Coyotes, an immediate boost to the confidence of a player that has been playing well but had yet to find the scoresheet.

 

WATCH: Juraj Slafkovsky Scores First NHL Goal

 

St-Louis has slowly but surely increased Slafkovsky‘s ice time as well, to the point that the rookie finished with 14 minutes and 26 seconds of ice time in his last outing, the highest mark in his young career to date.

His individual heat map from the game reveals the truth about Slafkovsky’s progress, he’s becoming much more active in the offensive zone as his minutes increase.

 

Slafkovsky heat map

 

As it stands, Slafkovsky is one of only five Canadiens forwards who have controlled more than 50 percent of the shots, and due to his solid play, he’s fourth among all forwards in terms of expected goals.

Despite his encouraging progress, Slafkovsky’s play probably hasn’t changed anyone’s mind in regards to where he’ll play the majority of the season, but if he keeps putting up dominant underlying numbers as he has in the last few games, management will have no other option but to reevaluate their plans.

(All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick)

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