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Lecavalier Discusses Slafkovsky’s Development With Canadiens

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Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky

Vincent Lecavalier has been a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization for a little less than a year, but he’s quickly found a new appreciation for his job as Special Advisor to Hockey Operations.

Lecavalier recently joined Mario Langlois for an interview on 98.5 which took place in French, focusing mostly on the development of the Canadiens’ first-overall pick, Juraj Slafkovsky.

“I’m loving it,” said Lecavalier. “I’ve been watching the Canadiens a lot, watching guys like Slafkovsky closely. And I’ve also been keeping a close eye on the top 50 or 60 guys for the upcoming draft.”

The 42-year-old admits he found scouting a little difficult at first but started to get a grip on what to look for when evaluating players rather quickly.

“I like to watch them 8 or 10 times,” said Lecavalier. “The most difficult thing is evaluating their potential development. At 17 years old they’re kids, at 24 they’re men, there’s a significant difference.”

Langlois took the opportunity to discuss the Canadiens’ process when originally scouting Slafkovsky last year.

“I watched Slafkovsky in Europe with Kent for 4 or 5 games,” said Lecavalier.” He looked very good on video too, at the Olympics and other tournaments. But when I watched him in Europe I saw he had leadership, he was communicating a lot, that’s stuff I can’t see on video, so it was worth the trip.”

Lecavalier, who had 12 goals and 13 assists his rookie season, was quick to throw his support behind Slafkovsky, pointing to the difficulties involved in adapting to a new league.

“It’s not easy to play at 18 years old,” said Lecavalier. “I had 13 or so goals my first year. It’s not an easy league, but he’s doing well. He’s big, he’s strong, he skates and has a great shot. Guys like Martin St-Louis, Adam Nicholas, Kent and myself are watching his games and trying to help him adapt to the North American style of play.

“You’re seeing he’s starting to drive the net, create chances and use his frame, which is what we want to see.”

When pressed about the apparent lack of confidence in Slafkovsky’s game, Lecavalier reminded Langlois that every player goes through some growing pains.

“It’s not just him,” said Lecavalier. “Caufield, Suzuki, it’s everyone. I only found my consistency at about 26 or 27. You learn how to manage a season in 5-game segments. I received help from a sports psychologist while with Team Canada. It helped with visualization, setting small, short-term goals.”

As for the lack of consistency in Slafkovsky’s game, he is confident the 18-year-old rookie is better off playing for the Canadiens in the NHL for the time being.

“I think he’s in the right place. He has the size. Sometimes you see 18-year-olds that aren’t quite there, but he has the frame. It takes a while to build confidence. He has to work on that and to do that he needs to find success, but that takes time. I like what he’s brought in his last 10 games. He has good intensity, he’s driving the net and he’s using his size.”

He also made a point of dismissing the idea that Slafkovsky was not receiving enough ice time, praising Martin St-Louis’ approach to his usage.

“I was playing roughly as much as Slafkovsky has,” said Lecavalier. “I was playing 12 or 13 minutes at 18. It’s difficult to produce with that ice time, but you also improve with 12 or 13 minutes of ice time as an 18-year-old. I think Martin (St-Louis) is giving him good opportunities with good players, and that’ll help his confidence.”


To hear the entire interview (French), click here

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habbernack

I’m imagining an Arber, Logan pairing

James

I think the rookie doing so great need more years do his greatness

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