MONTREAL – A user’s comment was legitimate. “Because all journalists write about Shane Wright and never about Juraj Slafkovsky’s flaws.” So here is a more complete portrayal of the menacing Slovakian outsider via reports from some explorers.
To get to the sources, we contacted a European scout from a National Hockey League team who spied on Slafkovsky on many occasions both with his SM-liiga team in Finland and on the international stage.
The criticism that follows Slafkovsky everywhere concerns the huge gap between his timid performance (5 goals and 5 assists in 31 games) with TPS Turku and that with the Slovak national team (7 goals in 7 games at the Olympic Games and 9 points in 8 games at the World Cup).
“It’s a bit difficult to explain. But the first thing to understand is that it’s not easy to play in the Finnish league. The hockey that is played is very closed with systems that use trap door shapes. In short, it’s a great challenge to produce there at a high pace and especially for a young athlete. “First, put this source, who has been an NHL scout for more than 10 years into perspective.
“Furthermore, if I moved the best Canadian hopes of this season of repechage to Liiga, I am convinced that it would be very difficult for them too,” he added.
In addition to this reasonable questioning, it is good to look for blame left and right for the sake of the operation, the search is painful.
Given that Slafkovsky had a skyrocketing rise this year, the Scouts were unable to spot several flaws in him.
“His creativity in making games is good, but not great. But how many players are five feet tall, run into goal with such balance and also have exceptional creativity? Few players have all the credentials like Mario Lemieux “, explained this scout who struggles to find negative aspects.
“He must make sure to play coherently with the intensity that characterizes him and relentlessness. When he does, as with the national team, he clears all doubts “, he added.
Because, despite everything, Slafkovsky did not convince all observers. In some lists, he comes out of the top-5 of the draft. Our interlocutor was convinced during the year.
“I admit that my opinion of him has had ups and downs due to his play in Liiga. I had doubts for this reason. But, thanks to his second half of the year and his international brilliance, I have no doubts anymore. “summed up the one who played as a winger in his youth.
This gap between his international brilliance and his performances in Finland could have cooled some NHL clubs. The interviewed recruiter does not agree with this hypothesis.
“I see him more positively, in the sense that with his stats accumulated on the international stage, I’m not afraid of his potential for the NHL. After all, the NHL game suits him better than Liiga’s game and his particular style. Having seen him excel in the Olympic Games and the World Cup, I am convinced that he will become a good player in the NHL, a very good player too “, deduced our interlocutor who liked to see him trust his instincts in the game. Slovak uniform.
Choose Wright anyway?
Everything therefore suggests that this recruiter would select the hopeful European if he were in the shoes of the Canadian’s top management. However, the verdict is not that simple.
“Personally, even if I haven’t seen Wright play a lot of times, I’d get a cross on a winger. It’s still very difficult to find good midfielders. Position players still have a greater impact on games than winger,” recalled Lo. scout.
But, of course, it all depends on what the team is looking for. Slafkovsky is not a central player and he is not the extremely dynamic forward on the net. He is first and foremost a powerful striker, “he continued.
A conclusion that reveals the enigma that undoubtedly animated the meetings of the Canadian hockey staff.
The other element to consider remains Slafkovsky’s confident, even arrogant and laid back personality.
“I love it, it takes confidence to shine in the NHL. It is not easy to win for the more timid players ”, concluded the scout united in Europe.
Access to more scout reports
To add more voices to this preview of Slafkovksy, we dove into the Black bookthe small Bible from the famous Hockey Prospect company.
The Slovakian six feet four and 229 pounds tall appears first on the final list. But the most interesting thing remains to read the comments of a panoply of recruiters on the debate relating to the first choice of the 2022 vintage.
– “People outside the hockey community have no idea the pressure on the Canadiens to enlist Wright. And especially with a novice general manager, I tell myself that it is impossible that Wright is not their choice. Hence, the CH leaders will be shattered when he is not the best player in his draft ”an NHL scout in May.
– “I know of several recruiters who have ranked Wright outside of their top-3. On my list, I put Slafkovsky first in March, “said Mark Edwards, scout leader at Hockey Prospect.
– “He has had zero production in his league in Finland, but his team is a real disaster,” said an NHL club recruiter in January 2022.
– “Obviously he was impressive in the Olympics, but his numbers in Finland are appalling. On my list, Joakim Kemell was ahead of him until recently, ”clarified one recruiter in March 2022.
– “Normally I lean in the middle in front of a winger, but sometimes the winger is just a better player. I have Slafkovsky ahead of Wright, “said another NHL scout team.
– “In general I will always prefer the center on the outside. But the leaders must be careful not to aim too much for the center and evade the best player who is a winger. (In 2015) I ranked Mitch Marner (who was a winger) ahead of Dylan Strome (who was a center) and it was a very easy decision for me. But it is often difficult to rank a winger in front of a center, ”revealed Edwards, of Hockey Prospect, when Strome was chosen third behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel while Marner was fourth.
– “I’m sure more than 10 teams consider Slafkovsky the first choice from the world championship,” an NHL scout said in June.
– “His end-of-season game allows Montreal to choose the player preferred by the leaders. They have less pressure to choose Wright as the public now knows what we have known for months, “a troop scout at the Bettman Circuit said in June.