Film Room: What’s behind Juraj Slafkovský's lacklustre start to the season?

Cold streaks always feel a little bit colder in Montréal, especially when you’re a first-overall pick. 

Juraj Slafkovský's inability to find the scoresheet with any regularity has made him the centre of attention in La Belle Province, and increasingly, around the NHL, too. We scrutinize his every shift and relitigate his past, present, and future time and again. We've heard pleas for new linemates or a demotion to the AHL, and even some criticism directed toward the scouting staff responsible for drafting him in the first place.

And sure, it would be easy enough to look at Slafkovský's physical build and his power forward profile and think he was over-drafted because of it. That's one of the more prevalent theories of late.

There’s no denying that Slafkovský's strength, reach, physicality, and stickhandling skills helped him score in his draft year. They earned the highest marks from our staff and they continue to be the pillars of his game. It's become clear with time, though, that Slafkovský has more to offer than just those attributes.

When looking at his pre-draft development – specifically, the improvements he made to his skating and playmaking –, his profile is more one of a late-bloomer than an early-riser. 

Slafkovský's playstyle also differed significantly from those older, more physically mature players that we often see coveted at the draft. He didn’t always stand at the net-front and snap home rebounds, try to turn the corner on defenders in space, or grind opponents on the boards; instead, he changed tempo and orchestrated passing exchanges off the rush, attracted pressure before passing, and circled up to the slot at the perfect time to one-time a feed past the goalie. This ability to rotate away from the puck, especially, earned him a lot of praise from our staff.

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NHL Montréal Canadiens NHL Juraj Slafkovský
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