Slafkovsky One Point Shy Of Passing Petr Svoboda For Third Most Points By A Habs Teenager

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Montreal Canadiens fans were split heading into the 2023-24 campaign about their thoughts on Juraj Slafkovsky.

He didn't necessarily have a great rookie season, especially if you consider that he was a first overall selection. The game seemed a bit too fast at times for the 2021 Olympic's Bronze Medalist and MVP. And when he was hitting his stride, he succumb to injury which shortened his season to 39 games.

To start the '23-'24 season, it appeared to be more of the same, he showed flashes of his potential, but his awareness was a little behind. Then he turned a corner, and alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, he exploded. The points have been impressive (14-21-35) and his playmaking, poise and vision have been brilliant.

With 66 games of action under his belt, ahead of a matchup against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, Slafkovsky is one point shy of a milestone. Maybe it's not exactly a milestone if he is close to pencilling himself as number one. But with a point on Saturday night, he will become the third-highest-scoring teenage point producer in Canadiens history with 46 surpassing Petr Svoboda's 45.

It's incredible to think that it didn't seem possible that he would score 10 goals and 10 assists this season, at the start. But now, he could very seriously hit the 20-goal mark and 30-35 assists wouldn't be unthinkable. Even if he doesn't reach those feats, he is certainly on the right track, and he doesn't turn 20 years old for another 14 days.

His awareness in the offensive zone has reached a completely new level that has displayed the things that earned him his Olympic MVP nod and the NHL Draft first overall selection. Defensively though, is where he has been most impressive, the points are great and all, but he doesn't quit on the backcheck. I would put my name in the cap in favour of him becoming an option on the penalty kill at some point, he is a very toolsy player, and I think it would work.

It would have been easy for Martin St Louis to suggest sending Slafkovsky down to Laval to develop and let him find his confidence. But Slafkovsky showed something to make the NHL Hall of Famer believe that he could pull out of the funk. Slafkovsky bet on himself, and St Louis showed why he is the man for perhaps one of the toughest coaching gigs in the entire NHL.

I mentioned before in an article that I believe Slafkovsky will be a great mentor for David Reinbacher because he has dealt with adversity and turned it into something positive. With 16 games to play, he is 15 shy of the 50-point mark, but this season was about so much more than points. Slafkovsky has displayed maturity, intelligence and poise beyond his years, three things that will help him heading into year three.