Are the Montreal Canadiens showing some buyer’s remorse about Juraj Slafkovsky?

Juraj Slafkovsky
Sep 28, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky (20) skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens selected 6-4, 218 pounds Slovakian forward Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS Turku with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Heading into the evening, many felt the consensus top pick was center Shane Wright. However, he fell to fourth in what turned out to be a surprising draft.

Slafkovsky, 18, was named Most Valuable Player at the 2022 Beijing Olympics after scoring a tournament-high seven goals in seven games while representing Slovakia. He collected just 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 31 games with TPS in Liiga (Finland’s top league).

Editor’s Note (10/1): Since the Kent Hughes interview conducted by Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger made its way across news streams, they wanted it clarified that Hughes comments were not given proper context. That’s why we posed this article as a question, Are the Montreal Canadiens showing some buyer’s remorse about Juraj Slafkovsky? Taking into account Hughes’ full comments and also the response by TSN’s Craig Button it was noted that such a notion is ridiculous.

Juraj Slafkovsky has been underwhelming

Montreal Canadiens Juraj Slafkovsky
Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; Juraj Slafkovsky after being selected as the number one overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

General manager Ken Hughes recently appeared on the Ray and Dregs Podcast, hosted by Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger, and told them that Slafkovsky’s play has been “underwhelming.”

Coming into training camp, the Habs top pick did very well at rookie camp but has struggled to adjust against NHL pros.

“We’ve got to do what’s right for him,” Hughes said. “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 down the road – and I don’t think we do that without making the best decision for him. Whether it’s the popular decision or not, we’re going to do what we believe is right.”

via The Score

It’s not all negative as Hughes noted that Slafkovsky looks good in scrimmages but that hasn’t translated to exhibition games.

So far in 34:22 of total ice time in two games, he’s failed to register a point with a -1 rating. He’s amassed 5 shots on goal.

Is Montreal feeling buyer’s remorse

shane wright
Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; Shane Wright after being selected as the number four overall pick to the Seattle Kraken in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Wright was whom everyone in Montreal thought would go first overall and he’s putting on a solid showing for the Seattle Kraken early on.

In his debut against the Flames, he played over 13:34 and posted 3 shots on goal with no points. The 18 year-old followed that up with an assist in his second game, where he played a little over 19 minutes.

“First experience was a lot of fun,” he said after the game. “Definitely a pretty cool experience and something I’ve been looking forward to for basically my entire life. It took a little adjustment at first… I’m really happy with the overall result.”

Seattle Sports 710AM

In fairness to the Habs, they weren’t the only ones to pass on Wright. The New Jersey Devils selected Simon Nemec and the Arizona Coyotes took Logan Cooley after that. Neither of them are expected to play in the NHL this season.

So are the Canadiens feeling some buyer’s remorse? I think it’s way too soon for that and TSN’s Craig Button, a prospect guru agrees.

“Kent Hughes knows he has to give Juraj Slafkovsky room to grow and develop,” Button said. “Given the Canadiens situation I’d would put him back to Finland and let him develop his offensive game. And as disappointed as Hughes appeared to be, I don’t think there’s real disappointment there.”

At the end of the day, passing judgment on an 18 year-old pick after two preseason games is beyond ridiculous. There’s always an extra weight that comes with being the first overall selection and that pressure could be getting to the kid.

Montreal needs to give him time and they will. There’s no need to rush Slafkovsky if they feel another season in Finland would be best.