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Kent Hughes: “If Laval is the best place for Juraj Slafkovský, we’ll consider it”.

The management of Juraj Slafkovský’s development has been the subject of much debate since the Slovak was drafted first overall in the summer of 2022. Some (including the CH) advocate the blacksmith approach, arguing that playing in the NHL will teach Slaf to dominate in the NHL, while others think that sending him to dominate in the AHL for a few months might be a good idea to help him find his feet.

And since development isn’t an exact science, there’s no right or wrong answer at this point.

But if the youngster’s development is the talk of Montreal, it’s much the same in his native Slovakia, where he’s already a hero. After all, we want the local jewel to eventually dominate North America, and we hope the CH will put him in a position to do so.

And recently, Kent Hughes took the time to speak with Martin Toth-Vano, a journalist in Slovakia, about Slaf‘s development. And in today’s paper on this interview, we learn that the CH GM doesn’t want to close the door definitively on sending the 19-year-old back to Laval if necessary:

If we feel at some point that his confidence is shaken, we’ll consider it. We want to put him in the best possible conditions to be dominant in a few years’ time, and if Laval is the best place for him, we’ll consider it. – Kent Hughes

Obviously, Hughes is cautious in his comments… but even if he doesn’t announce that Slaf should renew his OPUS card as soon as possible, we’re still talking about a door he’s keeping ajar.

In the past, the club has been quite assertive (in the public arena, at least) about not considering the idea of sending the youngster back to Laval. Not to say that the tone has changed, but it’s rare to see the CH even raise the possibility publicly.

But clearly, all options are on the table for Slaf, whom the club still hopes to keep in Montreal. Asked about the possibility of sending the kid to the CMJ next month, Hughes again said that all options are on the table.

He says he doesn’t necessarily intend to send him to CMJ, but if he loses confidence in the next few weeks, it’s something that could be considered.

That said, with barely a month until the start of the WJC, the Tricolore will have to make up its mind pretty quickly. I don’t think the club will get to that point (unless Slaf starts playing catastrophically in the next 2-3 weeks), but you never know.

Maybe going to represent his country with his big buddies (including Filip Mesar, who should be there) could help him, but that’ll be up to the Tricolore to decide.

In bursts

– In the same interview, Kent Hughes talked about the importance of having star players on a team. His answer is interesting.

– The CH played the big base today.

– If anyone has any tips on how to get Josh Anderson back in with a modicum of luck, I think they’d take anything.

– Enjoy.

– He doesn’t seem to blame him for anything.

– One-year suspension for deliberately tackling a referee. Not strong, champ.

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