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Juraj Slafkovský: potential unlike Kirby Dach’s

When the Habs drafted Juraj Slafkovský first overall last year, they did so because they felt the Slovakian’s ceiling was very high. More easily than a Shane Wright, obviously, the Tricolore thought they could take Slaf to one of the highest levels in the NHL.

Will he make it? Only time will tell.

That said, even if he had a difficult first season at times, we clearly saw the potential in the young power forward. It’ll take some work, since he’s a project, but it’s not impossible to see him become the elite power forward we hoped to select when we drafted him.

And clearly, some people really believe in his potential. A recently published ranking places Slafkovský among the league’s young U23 players with elite potential, a group that includes Tim Stützle, Matty Beniers, Dylan Cozens and Moritz Seider.

That’s a long way ahead of a certain Kirby Dach, who is seen as a guy who will be “borderline” at the top of the line-up. Note that players who have never played in the NHL don’t seem to be included.

When you consider the current situation in Montreal, it’s all a bit surprising. I’m willing to believe that the rankings are thinking big for Slafkovský, but right now, he’s pretty far behind Dach in the CH hierarchy.

Let’s just say I’d be a lot more surprised to see Slaf on the first line than I would be to see Dach next October.

On the other hand, the opposite could be true in a few years’ time if Slaf progresses enormously (which the CH hopes he will) and Dach stagnates a bit (which the CH doesn’t hope he will). I still think Dach’s potential is slightly underestimated on the list, but hey.

It’s not the first time this summer that a ranking has placed Slaf in a much more advantageous position than his team-mates. A Swiss site also placed him among the elite of all drafted U23 players, well ahead of Dach and Cole Caufield.

Today’s ranking is much more favorable for Caufield, seen as a future All-Star.

As for Kaiden Guhle, also included in today’s ranking, we see him among the players with the potential to be at the top of a line-up. When you think back to what he did last year in a big role, it does seem realistic.

But clearly, Slafkovský is a guy whose potential continues to attract attention. He seems to have what it takes to become a truly elite player, but unlike the other three CH youngsters on the list, his development really isn’t at such an advanced stage.

It’s all going to come down to this, clearly, because even if you have all the potential in the world, you’ve got to reach it in the end.

The next few years will be decisive for Slaf, and according to his Slovakian compatriot Jaroslav Halak, he could blossom (partially, at least) as early as this coming season. We certainly hope so.

In gusts

– Too bad.

– One last column for Réjean Tremblay at JdeM. [JdeM]

– Hostile bids were affected by the salary cap. [TSLH]

– Logical.

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