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As long as starting in 1st place, the CH was aiming for home runs

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For the moons, the teams of the NHL groped to weigh the value of the offensive production of the best prospects based on the different leagues in which they play.

For example, 18 Ontario Junior League forwards were selected in the top five of the league table NHL between 2005 and 2016. Once you arrive in NHLthe most talented strikers of this youth league offered a corresponding average production, more or lesstwo thirds of the total goals scored in the draft year.

Also by way of example, since his arrival in the big league, Connor McDavid has generated on average, for 82 games, 71.8% of the points and 66% of the goals scored in the last year as a junior. And here we are talking about the best player in the world. Mitch Marner, another exceptional, scored 69.8% of the points and 61.3% of the goals accumulated among the youth teams.

Again, we are talking about exceptional strikers. For players who don’t fully own the Marker’s Core, production often drops by 50% or even more once in the NHL. That’s what happened to players like Ryan Strome (44.3%) and Sam Bennett (37.4%).

They shake hands in blue suits in the stands of the Bell Center.

Juraj Slafkovsky receives congratulations from Shane Wright.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Graham Hughes

With 32 goals and 62 assists in Kingston, in an optimistic scenario, Shane Wright was really in danger of becoming a 16-20 goalscorer. He only scored 32 goals in OHL even though his hockey IQ is extremely high, he executed many details perfectly and made all the players who accompanied him on the ice look good.

He didn’t drop to fourth place for nothing. When choosing early in the draft, you need to look for the player who is most likely to give you the rarest commodity. You have to aim for the home run.

That said, it hurt to read the disappointment on Wright’s face when his name was named by the Seattle Kraken. This draft should normally have been the happiest day of his life. But as Hockey Canada and the Ontario Junior League decided to award him exceptional player status at the age of 15, expectations were created and he experienced this selection as a failure.

Why are we putting this kind of pressure on our young athletes? Let him recover.

***

That said, the two players with the most offensive potential in this draft were Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley.

He smiles at the camera in the Coyotes cap.

Logan Cooley

Photo: The Canadian Press / Graham Hughes

Cooley’s potential is immense. Talent comes out of his ears. But as electrifying as he is, he hasn’t produced to the rhythm of the big offensive stars coming out of the American development program this season. Furthermore, doubts remained, due to his small size, about Cooley’s ability to make a career at the center of NHL. This is by far the most physically demanding position.

The US national curriculum is also the development system that Kent Hughes, Jeff Gorton, and Martin St-Louis are most familiar with. They know everyone there. If they’ve decided to ignore Cooley, they should have the benefit of the doubt.

***

Now let’s talk about Juraj Slafkovsky.

Since the 2018 draft (when Jesperi Kotkaniemi was preferred over Brady Tkachuk), Canadian coaches have often complained to each other that the team’s recruiting department could have slipped away an impactful player like Tkachuk. The latter is a 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) 95 kg (211 lb) train that has scored an average of 27 goals since he arrived in NHL and which constantly makes its presence felt on the track.

In the NHL, you can’t make omelettes without breaking the eggs. These players are worth their weight in gold.

Well, that mistake was corrected on Thursday night. Slafkovsky (1.93m and 99kg) is a Brady Tkachuk who skates much better and has better hands than the Senators forward.

Will Slafkovsky score with the same consistency and physical involvement as Tkachuk? We will see it very soon.

One thing is certain: last winter no other 17-year-old player could have finished first to score at the Beijing Olympics, in an excessively defensive environment and with the colors of a very normal national team. Then, in the spring, at the World Cup, we continue to look for the identity of the promising candidate suitable for this repechage who could have finished 13th in the top scorer ranking facing a high percentage of players from the NHL.

In the end, the weight of those two offensive successes by Slafkovsky far outweighed those of Wright and Cooley.

Between us, the 5 goals and 5 assists Slafkovsky has racked up during his season in the Finnish league raise many more questions about his time in use than his talent. Someone slept on gas.

He smiles.

Juraj Slafkovsky (center)

Photo: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

There is nothing certain in life and even less in repechage. As I wrote recently, during the first 19 drafts of the 2000s, the first player selected was clearly the best of his cohort only 42.1% of the time.

This year’s harvest worried team leaders to the point that, on Thursday, at least four of the seven organizations that held picks two to eight (NJ, ARI, PHI and OTT) tried to pass them on to others. other CEOs in order to get their hands on safer values.

In this context, the Habs have at least left for the fence. We can’t wait to see what Slafkovsky will do in the NHL.

***

When introduced to the media and the public on his appointment last winter, Kent Hughes announced that the new management would build his squad based on clear values, with the kind of player we wanted in blue, white and red.

Immediately after Slafkovsky’s selection, Hughes clearly showed his colors by acquiring Kirby Dach, a 21-year-old 1.93m center that had been the third pick in 2019.

During the reign of Trevor Timmins, CH was the organization that recruited the largest number of small players. The first two moves of the new administration seemed like a nice break with the past.

Injured most of the time, Dach has been unlucky in recent years. In 2020, then captain of Junior Team Canada, he broke his wrist just before the start of the World Championships.

Dach is a complete center that already has 152 games of experience in the NHL. He will produce at a respectable pace, nothing more, just like Shane Wright, and will likely make the team more difficult to play against.

Fans were immediately silent when they learned that the Canadiens had to sacrifice Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders to get their hands on the 13th selection the Blackhawks wanted in exchange for Kirby Dach.

The former CH defender warms up before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final.

Aleksandr Romanov

Photo: Reuters / Eric Bolte

Romanov did not develop as believed in NHL. He was a sort of quarterback of the Russian youth team and we expected some kind of Andrei Markov in Montreal. Rather, the young full-back is becoming something of Alexei Emelin.

This exchange means management is preparing to welcome Kaiden Guhle through the front door next season. This is not bad news. Many people predict that this giant back (the theme of the day) will wear a letter on its tricolor sweater in a few years’ time.

The evening would have been perfect if the team had used their 26th selection to bet on Drummondville Voltigeurs defender Maveric Lamoureux. At 2.01m (6ft 7in), with a true professional attitude and impressive mobility for his size, Lamoureux would have been a very high quality catch. Perhaps it was felt that the young defenders bank was sufficiently stocked at this stage.

It was the Arizona Coyotes, holders of the 29th choice, to claim it in the end.

We wish the CH that Filip Mesar, a 1.78m and 76kg (5ft 10in / 167lb) Slovakian wing, has a superior course. He was listed 20th among European skaters by Central Recruitment.

As for the rest, until proven otherwise, you have to trust those who saw him play.

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