Canadiens select Juraj Slafkovsky No. 1 then make two big trades

The Montreal Canadiens have electrified their fans in attendance at the Bell Centre. It began by selecting Slovakian forward Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS Turku with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

It was a bit of a surprising move with many feeling that Shane Wright of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs was considered the top pick. He actually fell to the Seattle Kraken at fourth overall.

“We went through a heck of an exhaustive preparation and review of the players, and listen, there were a lot of good hockey players,” Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes told ESPN. “We felt he was the best player for us what we are trying to accomplish.”

Canadiens select Juraj Slafkovsky, make two trades

Montreal Canadiens
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

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. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder collected just 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 31 games with TPS Turku in Liiga, Finland’s top professional men’s league.

“It’s unbelievable,” Slafkovsky said. “I still cannot believe that this actually happened. … It’s just a special moment in my life.”

The Canadiens, who finished the 2021-22 season with a league-low 55 points (22-49-11), were selecting the top overall pick of the draft for the sixth time in franchise history — and first since taking Doug Wickenheiser in 1980.

Montreal decided to top that pick by quickly making two trades announced simultaneously by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

First, they traded the rights to defenseman Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders for their 13th overall pick. This past season, he posted 13 points in 79 games. The 22 year-old was chosen by the Habs in the 2018 Draft (second round).

Finally, the Habs moved that 13th overall pick and the 66th overall selection to the Chicago Blackhawks for center Kirby Dach.

Dach, 21, was selected third overall in the 2019 Draft but struggled with the Hawks. He scored 26 points 70 games last year. For his career, he has 59 points in 152 games.

–Field Level Media contributed to this article.