Rookie Midterms: The unrealized promise of Juraj Slafkovský's first season, and what comes next
Juraj Slafkovský's quiet confidence, physical strength, and experience against men in his draft year made him better equipped to take on an NHL role than anyone else in the 2022 draft class. It's part of why the Montréal Canadiens took him with the first-overall pick.
His first season with the team reminded us, though, that isn't a league for 18-year-olds. Even the best of them. Like many first-overall selections who preceded him, the Slovak faced more than his fair share of challenges.
Slafkovský's lower ice time and infrequent power play appearances made it hard for him to put much of a dent into the scoresheet. He picked up 10 points in 39 games before the Canadiens announced that their prized prospect would miss the balance of the season after sustaining a lower-body injury.
Despite this disappointing and sudden conclusion to his rookie season, it wasn't a lost year for Slafkovský. He still showed that his play could translate to the NHL, even if it was in a depth capacity, and built a new foundation of abilities and habits that will only make him that much better upon his return.
What follows in Slafkovský's Rookie Midterm is an examination of what he brought to the table this season, and what we can expect from him in the years that follow. Is the Slovak winger still on track to be the top-six power forward that the team envisioned when they called his name at the Centre Bell? Read on to find out.
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