Big-bodied winger with good mobility and puck skills. Gets to high-danger areas with consistency and can finish difficult chances. Has the potential to develop into a top-six producer in the NHL.
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November 2023 – It’s been a wildly interesting season for Juraj Slafkovsky. The scoresheet may read that he only has 6 points through 21 games this season, but 3 of those have come in his last 5, and he has been very clearly the Canadiens’ best player in certain games this season. He played a career-high 19:44 against San Jose this week, and the traits that made him so enticing as a prospect are starting to emerge. He’s a high-end puck protector, who can use his size to create space for his teammates. More and more, it looks like he will be developed into a unique power-playmaker, but his shooting tendencies and instincts absolutely need to change. He has earned the faith of Martin St. Louis, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving the Canadiens top-six anytime soon. Slafkovsky’s rocking a stellar 55.6% goals-for percentage, which is among the highest on the Canadiens. He’s very raw, but the future seems very bright for the first overall pick. Aaron Itovitch
June 2023 – While Slafkovsky hasn’t played since January, reports indicate that he is recovering from his injury exceptionally well, and that he has leaned out a little bit over his D+1 season. Weighing in at 238 pounds last season, the first overall pick seemed slightly lethargic in his movements. His combination of skills make him one of the most exciting prospects in the league, and if he gets back to the state he was in earlier in the year, he could have an exciting D+2 season. The ceiling is still very high for Juraj Slafkovsky. Aaron Itovitch
March 2023 – A season-ending injury was a massive blow to Slafkovsky’s momentum. While he wasn’t an immediate impact player at the NHL level, there was a lot to like in his play. While on paper, his 10 points in 39 games isn’t great, it has to be remembered that he is still 18. Being compared to players like Rafael Harvey-Pinard, who is producing well in his NHL rookie season is counteractive, considering Harvey-Pinard is five years his senior. Slafkovsky is on the trajectory to be a top-six NHL winger with great puck possession skills, and as a physical beast. He may not be a first overall pick to the likes of Connor Bedard, but Juraj Slafkovsky will be a good NHLer. Aaron Itovitch
December 2022 – Slafkovsky is only 29 games into his NHL career, and it is way too soon to determine if Montreal made the right pick at first overall in the 2022 draft. However, through these 29 games, there is reason to be optimistic about Slafkovsky’s development. With four goals and six assists for 10 points, he is on pace for a respectable rookie season. As an eighteen-year-old, he is already 6-3 and 238 pounds. He is a big presence on the ice, and he is becoming more comfortable with every game. On the other hand, there is a lot of area of Slafkovsky’s game that needs significant improvement. Do note, however, that this isn’t a critique, as he has several more years to become an elite NHLer. Slafkovsky has a very awkward stride, which can be tied directly to his size. He struggles to accelerate efficiently, and carries a very high centre of gravity. This makes him prone to lose balance, which happens several times per game. Another glaring deficiency in his game comes in his proneness to receive hits. He often skates with his face down, which worked fine for him in lesser leagues, but is being exploited in the NHL. There isn’t a single game this season where Slafkovsky has gone without receiving a huge hit. Other aspects where he needs to improve come in generating offense. He has a strong shot, but he seldom uses it. He only has 32 shots on net in 29 games, which has been a main reason for his relegation to the fourth line with Jake Evans and Michael Pezzetta. His ice time is steadily rising, and he is steadily improving, but he has a very long way to go before he becomes a serviceable top-six NHLer. Aaron Itovitch
July 2022 – In Juraj Slafkovsky, the Canadiens selected a true power-forward equal parts power and skill. He is able to throw adult opponents from his back as if they weighed nothing and he is already a borderline elite puck protector. His mobility and fluidity make his style of play effective and he uses it in combination with his hands, deception, and power to gain access to the slot and wreak havoc. While he is certainly a less safe bet than Shane Wright to become a first-line NHL player, his upside is undeniable. With targeted development focused on improving his decision-making, acceleration, and explosiveness as well as bringing more consistency to his pace of play and deception, Slafkovsky could become a first-line winger who drives tremendous possession metrics, retrieves pucks as few others can, and scores upward of 35 goals and 80 points, but a lot needs to improve for him to get to that point. Drafting him represents the Canadiens betting not only on the Slovak’s natural tools and his flashes of dominance internationally but also on their own development team as their workload is significantly heavier with Slafkovsky than it would have been with Wright. Look for Slafkovsky to split this season between Montreal and Laval. Sebastian High
July 2022 – Slafkovský has been selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the first overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Nick Richard
May 2022 – Slafkovsky finished his very strong season in Men’s Worlds with a great performance, finishing 3 goals and 6 assists in 8 games. His biggest strengths, puck control and protecting were on display and he was able to execute amazing skill moves. While Slafkovsky was already considered a high pick, this showing definitely made him a biggest challenger for Shane Wright. If you ask me, I even see Slafkovsky having a higher ceiling than Wright. Eetu Siltanen
February 2022 – Slafkovsky cemented himself as one of the top prospects available in the 2022 draft with an outstanding showing at the Olympics where he helped lead Slovakia to a bronze medal. Without NHL players participating, Slafkovsky was the star of the tournament. He scored seven goals in seven games, including a pair in the bronze medal clinching game, and was named the MVP of the tournament. The young Slovak has long been considered one of the top talents in the 2022 draft class and he only affirmed those beliefs with his Olympic performance. Nick Richard
December 2021 – Slafkovsky was a teammate of Nemec’s on the Slovak team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in the summer and played a huge part in their success, finishing in a tie for fourth in tournament scoring with nine points in five games. He has spent most of the season in Liiga playing for TPS and though he hasn’t produced much in limited ice time at the top level, he has been a force for their U20 team with 18 points through 11 games. Nick Richard
September 2021 – Juraj Slafkovsky spent the 2020-21 season playing for TPS’ U20 squad in Finlands U20 SM-sarja, putting up eight goals and five assists in 16 games as a 16-year-old. He also played in the World Juniors where he was a standout for Slovakia as a draft-1 player despite being held off the scoresheet. Slafkovsky represented his country at the Men’s World Championships as well, gaining valuable experience against high-end competition, and again at the recent Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he was a star for the Silver Medal winning Slovaks, finishing the tournament with nine points in just five games. He will look to make the leap from the U20 level to Liiga as he pushes for a regular role with TPS in his draft year.
Standing at 6-4 and weighing in at 225 pounds, Slafkovsky presents an intriguing package of size and skill. He has good mobility for a player his size, featuring a strong skating posture and a powerful stride. He uses his body to protect pucks and disrupt opposing puck carriers on the forecheck but relies more on his skating and puck skills to take pucks into dangerous scoring areas. Slafkovsky can execute skilled moves in tight and maintains control of the puck through traffic, leading to plenty of quality scoring opportunities. In front of the opposing net, he boxes out opposing defenders and routinely deflects incoming shots to cause difficulty for goaltenders. In the event he is unable to redirect the shot into the net, his quick hands allow him to retrieve rebounds or loose pucks and score from the blue paint. Slafkovsky’s offensive vision is a strength as well, and though he isn’t a high-end playmaker, he is able to distribute the puck effectively in the offensive zone. His shot is developing into a dangerous weapon as well, making him more of a threat from the outside. While there are power elements to his game, he isn’t a prototypical power forward at this point in his development. Despite his offensive flair and willingness to engage physically, the talented winger is still working to find consistency in his pace of play. If Slafkovsky can continue to blend the finesse in his game with his powerful physical tools, he could develop into a force at the NHL level. Nick Richard