It’s only preseason – and it’s still early – but Juraj Slafkovsky has yet to score in a Canadiens uniform after being the No. 1 in this year’s NHL draw.
Slafkovsky did not score in the two games he played at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. He also did not score in his first two NHL preseason games, with five shots and four hits in those games.
The 6-foot 3,238-pound left winger has not been aggressive in his two preseason games and looked very cautious at times. But Slafkovsky is only 18 and faces many adaptations in North America, including a smaller ice area.
There are five preseason games left for the Canadiens, starting Saturday in Ottawa against the Senators (19 hours, TSN5, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) so there is still time for Slafkovsky to show that he is ready to open the regular season in the NHL. The Canadiens have a 0-3 record in preseason action so far.
Canadiens GM Kent Hughes was a guest on Thursday’s Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast with Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger.
Dreger noted that Slafkovsky has raw skills and power, but wondered if he already has the game for the NHL and asked Hughes if there’s a chance he could start the season with AHL’s Laval Rocket if the Canadiens think that’s it. best for its development.
“Yeah, 1000 percent,” Hughes said. “We’ll see how he develops. I thought his two exhibition games let him down a bit. But the two rookie games in Buffalo he was great, the two scrimmages here with our team I think he led all our players at scoring chances by a pretty decent margin So he was very good at parts but there was inconsistency in the way it translates to the exhibition games.
“But we have to do what’s right for him and 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 on the road,” Hughes added. “And I don’t think we would do that without making the right decision for him. Whether it’s the popular decision or not, we’re going to do what we think is right.”
Canadiens forward Josh Anderson was asked after practice Friday if he thought Slafkovsky looked like he was ready to play in the NHL.
“It’s really hard,” Anderson said. “First encounter with an NHL training camp and it’s still quite early. I think you should give him a few more games to work on his game a bit. You see what he can do. Big body, great stick, can skate like the wind. It was a tough training camp mentally for these kids to get through, the grind of it. But I know they feel better and more conditioned every day.”
Hughes announced late Friday afternoon that the Canadiens had removed 23 players from their training camp, including 13 forwards, eight defenders and two goalkeepers, and the Rocket would open training camp on Sunday. Slafkovsky was not among the cuts.
Players under NHL contracts loaned to the Rocket included Lucas Condotta, Gianni Fairbrother, Cam Hillis, Jan Mysak and Joël Teasdale.
Players released from camp but invited to Rocket’s training camp included: Peter Abbandonato, Anthony Beauregard, Gabriel Bourque, Santino Centorame, Tory Dello, Philippe Desrosiers, Ryan Francis, Olivier Galipeau, Alex Green, Danick Martel, Émile Poirier, Brennan Saulnier, Brett Stapley and Joe Vrbetic.
Players who were taken from camp and invited to try out the Rocket were: Pierrick Dubé, John Parker-Jones, Miguel Tourigny and William Trudeau.
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