Slafkovsky embraced a leadership role with Slovakia

Juraj Slafkovsky was drafted for many different reasons, but his character stood out right at the top of the list.
Canada v Slovakia - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia
Canada v Slovakia - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

Montreal Canadien hulking winger Juraj Slafkovsky represented his home Slovakia with pride at the World Hockey Championships.

The Slovaks ultimately bowed out at the hands of Kaiden Guhle and Team Canada. But Slafkovsky played big minutes through each game and was relied on because of his two-way prowess. He was questioned about whether the leadership role was too much for him and his response was exactly what you would expect it to be.

Skill and talent were things Habs management was banking on translating for Slafkovsky. However, his high level of character was an impeccable fit with the direction the team is planning to go.  So it’s no surprise that he relished the role and the pressure it brings. 

Throughout his growing pains, one thing has remained a constant for Slafkovsky and that is his passion for the game. Regardless of the situation he does it with a smile and a relentless work ethic. He truly plays for the crest on the front of his sweater and not the name on the back. 

Each time he loses, while he shows his maturity during interviews, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. You can tell that every bone in his body is competitive and he hates to lose. But as competitive as he is, he is even-keeled and doesn’t run hot-headed. 

Slafkovsky shows all the signs of a true leader and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he wore a letter on his sweater one day. He is young and hungry, and sometimes it seems he has a chip on his shoulder as well; that pushes him to prove anybody who doubted him wrong. Kent Hughes knew the type of player that he was drafting, but I’m not so sure that he knew that the player would arrive in the fashion that he did, especially after his struggles out of the gate.

Expectations for the 2024-25 season are much higher than they were for the 2023-24 season, which says a lot, considering the expectations were already pretty high. But given the growth that he underwent while being mentored by Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki and an immense amount of teaching from Martin St. Louis, it's not all that surprising. Slafkovsky understands the position that he is in and he doesn't fold under the pressure, but rather elevates his game and relishes in the fact that he gets to do his part in pushing through it.