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Montreal Canadiens’ Options For Juraj Slafkovsky

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Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky

Montreal– Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury, but that doesn’t mean his year is over.

The Montreal Canadiens’ 1st overall pick was given some bad news earlier this week after he left last Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers early with an apparent lower-body injury.

Juraj Slafkovsky is expected to miss the remainder of the NHL season with an injury; putting his rookie campaign to an end in a swift fashion.

But is his hockey year truly over?

Not quite, but it’s also not what you think.

AHL Playoffs

Many were quick to point to Slafkovsky’s return date lining up with the start of the AHL playoffs.

The resurgent Laval Rocket are back in the playoff race after a very slow start to the season, but, even if they were to squeak into the AHL’s spring dance, Slafkovsky, unfortunately, wouldn’t be able to join them.

To be eligible for the AHL playoffs, a player must be on the AHL roster prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. Most NHL teams will assign their youngsters to the AHL on the day of the Trade Deadline and then immediately recall them in a tactic commonly referred to as “papering” a prospect, as the roster move is all but paperwork.

If Slafkovsky were healthy, the Canadiens would have simply “papered” the youngster, along with other prospects like Jesse Ylönen or Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, and called them right back up to play for the Canadiens later that day against the L.A. Kings.

Unfortunately, because Juraj Slafkovsky was placed on Injury Reserve, he cannot be papered, according to the NHL.

A player that is placed on Injured Reserve needs to be healthy and activated off of IR first before being eligible to be reassigned to the minors.

Because Slafkovsky’s injury will take him to mid-April, that means the Canadiens cannot paper him, and he won’t be eligible for the AHL playoffs.

But that doesn’t mean his year is done.

Window Of Opportunity

There is another option that could present itself to the Canadiens in the form of the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland.

The tournament, which Slafkovsky participated in last year, is set to begin on May 12th, well after the youngster is set to return.

After a pretty stellar performance in last year’s tournament, where the power forward put up three goals and six assists for nine points in eight games, it could be an interesting opportunity for many reasons.

For starters, the Canadiens would likely want Slafkovsky to have a more positive end to his calendar year; allowing their youngster to go into an important summer of training with a better outlook ahead of a crucial season.

The tournament could also be used as an opportunity to measure how much Slafkovsky has progressed this season; allowing for the  juxtaposition of his on-ice performance from one year to another.

The World Championships run from May 12 to 28, which would leave Slafkovsky ample time to return home and put in a few good months of training before returning to Montreal for training camp.

 

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Tyrone

Considering that management didn’t even send him to Laval because they wanted to control his development firsthand, I’d be absolutely shocked if they allow him to go to the WC. Nevermind the risk for reinjury after coming back from rehab. It would be nice to see him have success at something this year, but I’d be stunned if the Habs let him go.

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