The Montreal Canadiens had the luxury of owning the first round of the 2022 draft of the National Hockey League (NHL) and on Thursday night at the Bell Center set their sights on Juraj Slafkovsky.
• Read also: 2022 NHL Draft: All First Round Picks
The suspense continued until the last minute, when CEO Kent Hughes and his team appeared to have hesitated for a long time between Slafkovsky and the Shane Wright and Logan Cooley centers.
Slafkovsky was one of the headliners of this amateur auction recently, when he surprised the entire hockey world at the Beijing Olympics in 2022, with seven goals in as many games for Slovakia.
The 18-year-old left winger is a true striker, boasting a 6’4 “, 229 lb frame. Many Canadiens fans have long dreamed of seeing him complete a line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.
With the Turku TPS, in the Finnish Elite League, Slafkovsky has accumulated 10 points in 31 games. He did even better in the playoffs with seven points from 18 games.
Upon arriving on the red carpet near the Bell Center, the Slovakian had been booed by some fans eager to see the Habs run for Wright. He is the fastest enlisted player from his country, beating Marian Gaborik’s third record in 2000.
We have to go back to 1980 to see the Canadian select one last time in the first round. At the time, Bleu-Blanc-Rouge chose Doug Wickenheiser, a player who broke nothing in the NHL.
Shane Wright slips
With the second choice, that of the New Jersey Devils, a second Slovak was selected. The player chosen was defender Simon Nemec, who had a good season with Nitra in his native country.
Despite Wright’s availability as a central player, another center, Logan Cooley, was chosen by the Arizona Coyotes. Wright was, however, chosen in the next round, the fourth, by the Seattle Kraken.
As usual, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was greeted with boos from the crowd. He went to a few words in French to greet the fans, being confused by the anger of the fans towards him.
Before the selection of the Canadiens, homage was paid to the memory of Bryan Marchment, a former National League defender who became a scout for the San Jose Sharks. The 53-year-old man was found dead in his hotel room in Montreal on Wednesday.
Martin Lafleur and Tanya Bossy were invited on stage along with the commissioner to commemorate the disappearance of their illustrious fathers in early April, Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy.
CH head coach Martin St-Louis meanwhile went there with an interesting wink by mentioning it was his first repechage appearance in 47 years. We recall that all the formations of the circuit had raised their noses at the auction towards the candidacy of the former Tampa Bay Lightning striker, more than 25 years ago.