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Giving Juraj Slafkovsky more playing time won’t be easy
Last year, Juraj Slafkovsky played 39 games in the NHL. It was a learning curve for the man who collected ten points, including four goals, at the age of 18 in the Bettman circuit.

Over a full season, he would have scored around twenty points according to the good old rule of three.

Obviously, everyone at the Habs hopes he can do better. No one’s asking him to single-handedly take the CH to the playoffs, of course, but it would be interesting to see him improve.

I’m not one of those who think Slaf will be able to have a 55-point season this year. He’ll get there in the medium term (and he’ll do much better in the long term), but in the short term, it’s a lot.

Despite a summer of work where he overhauled his training methods, I think he’ll need time to adapt to the pace of the NHL. That’s not unusual for an 18-year-old European arriving in the NHL.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

All this to say that if the player wants to progress, he’ll need playing time. He’ll need teammates who can help him get to the next level on the ice.

But right now, I don’t know if the CH can offer him that.

If Slaf wants to play in the top-6, he’ll have to be one of the Habs’ top-six forwards. And as it is, it’s already safe to say that he won’t be starting the season, barring a camp surprise, on the first line.

I don’t know who will play with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, but in the short term, it would be surprising if it were Slaf.

Sean Monahan, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook are three center players who could fight for time on the top-6. Add to that Josh Anderson, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher and we have a good fight on our hands. I don’t think Armia and Gally will make the top-6, but hey.

There are guys in there who are more likely to produce in October and secure their place in the sun quickly.

The problem for Slaf is that expectations are changing in Montreal. The club wants to win a few more games, and he’ll really have to earn his quality minutes to get good playing time.

And if he starts on the third line and doesn’t break it down, climbing could become difficult.

I’m not saying it would be impossible, because the CH has every advantage in developing him and injuries can change everything, but I’m just saying that he won’t become a monster overnight.

So let’s wait and see before we think he’ll get the big minutes.

In a gust

– I can’t wait for tonight.

– Oh?

– Small contract in Seattle.

– Makes sense.

– Indeed.

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