Five X-Factors For The 2024-25 Montreal Canadiens

Kirby Dach and Kaiden Guhle would be the two honourable mentions; as they are on the cusp of being as impactful as the five players mentioned. But leaving them off the list, speaks to the make up of the Habs roster.
Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Juraj Slafkovsky

Anthony Stolarz, Juraj Slafkovsky
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

If somebody were to tell you in October 2023 that Juraj Slafkovsky would have 42 points and be on pace for nearly 20 goals, you would have laughed. But that is the case and he doesn't look the same player that skated in his rookie season last year. The confidence in his ability to protect the puck and create space, which he attacks with quick feet or a smart pass is impressive.

Slafkovsky was tested out on the first line at the start of the year, but it looked like he was thinking too much instead of playing. He was forcing passes and trying to do way too much, often leaving himself susceptible to large open-ice hits. The confidence that we are seeing now was nowhere to be found then, the X (formerly Twitter) was a cesspool littered with bust labels all over any talk of Slafkovsky.

But with hard work and Martin St. Louis's trust, Slafkovsky found his game and he did so on the top line. Playing with the Habs top players was exactly the break that he needed to show how important he is for the team's offensive attack. He has served as the retriever, challenging defenders with his footspeed and a great knowledge of how to use his physical tools to his advantage.

He is enjoying the game and realizing that his strength and skill combination are often too much to handle. When defenders figure that out, it's often too late; because Slafkovsky has improved his decision-making and the speed at which he moves the puck. Because of that he creates plays at a rapid pace and moves into a smart spot to help his linemates as an outlet or a shooting option.

Slafkovsky is an X Factor for the Canadiens' success now and going forward that won't change. He has plenty of time before he reaches his prime and it seems obvious that he is far from finished developing into the player that he will eventually become.