Montreal Canadiens: Juraj Slafkovsky Has Become Exactly What 22 & 14 Need

The Canadiens 2022 First overall selection has made pundit's look foolish of late.

Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens
Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Another incredible performance from the Montreal Canadiens' top line against the Anaheim Ducks and Juraj Slafkovsky put on a clinic.

Montreal Canadiens, The Athletic beat writer; Arpon Basu put it best - Slafkovsky has been successful dusting off the puck, then creating plays with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. When they get in trouble, they slide the puck his way, and he makes some magic. Slafkovsky deserves a lot of credit for his strong play, and Martin St. Louis recognizes how important the 19-year-old’s puck pursuit has been for the teams' success.

The trajectory in which he is growing and developing is incredible. In March 2023, the 2022 number-one overall selection had been written off - labelled as a bust. Kind of funny to think about how wrong pundits were. 

Now, just over a month into 2024 - amid a brilliant run - Slafkovsky has put all of his tools on full display. The tools; including elite vision, silky smooth mitts for passing and a bomb shot, come as a second fiddle to his brilliant 200-foot game. On the forecheck, his blend of speed, size and thievery have fuelled dozens of chances with each passing game.

The top line has done some heavy lifting, and the big Slovak has helped carry the load. It’s hard not to be as excited about Slafkovsky; as Slafkovsky is when scores a goal. While the offence needs help, it could be in a much different place; had the Habs not gambled on his growth potential. 

I think most are surprised by how good Slafkovsky has become. Even though we felt that he was the right pick and had immense growth potential. The way he has raised his ceiling and floor has been incredible.

The big No. 20 for the Habs has developed into exactly what Nick and Cole needed. Considering that he is only in his second season, after an injury-shortened rookie year; his play is even more impressive. The chemistry between Slafkovsky and the top line has developed at the speed of a Shea Weber slapshot. 

And he is just getting started - I try not to get ahead of myself - but Slafkovsky in another year or two is going to be wild. It’s hard to project right now because we aren’t sure just how good he can become. But an elite playmaker with perennial 30-goal production doesn’t seem far-fetched.

Like a dog on a milk bone, Slafkovsky isn’t a big fan of sharing the puck with the opposition. And the Canadiens power play has become relevant again, thanks in large part to the dog in Slafkovsky. It just so happens that Slaf is a dog - one that has sizeable fight - and he looks like makes puck retrievals in his sleep. 

If the Canadiens saw such high potential in Slafkovsky, and have brought out the best with strong development. I can’t wait to see what they do with David Reinbacher and their 2024 draft pick(s). Slafkovsky is that guy and he is just getting the ball rolling. 

We didn’t get the memo, much like Slafkovsky that he isn’t or wasn’t supposed to be this good. But here is, and he is so good. Especially for the Canadiens scouting staff’s confidence.