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Juraj Slafkovsky Selected No. 1 Overall by Canadiens in 2022 NHL Draft

Erin WalshJuly 7, 2022

Xavier Laine/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens surprisingly passed on Shane Wright with the first pick in the 2022 NHL draft and instead selected Slovakian forward Juraj Slafkovsky on Thursday at Bell Centre.

B/R Open Ice @BR_OpenIce

WELCOME TO MONTREAL ⚜️<br><br>The Montreal Canadiens select Juraj Slafkovsky with the first overall pick! <a href="https://t.co/OyCpMa6Qpu">pic.twitter.com/OyCpMa6Qpu</a>

Slafkovsky was widely expected to be taken second overall behind Wright, but the Canadiens must have felt the left wing fits their needs more.

He made a name for himself at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, helping lead Slovakia to a historic bronze medal, which was the country's first-ever Olympic medal in men's ice hockey.

The 18-year-old tallied seven goals in seven contests at the Beijing Games, including two goals in the bronze-medal game. His seven goals led the tournament, and he also tied with three other players for the most points with seven.

Slafkovsky also represented Slovakia under-18s at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, finishing with three goals and six assists in five games en route to a silver medal. The left-shot winger played his domestic hockey in the Finnish Liiga for TPS Turku, tallying five goals and five assists in 31 games mostly against older players.

The 6'4", 218-pound forward has the big frame to succeed in the NHL and uses his size and skill to his advantage. He has great puck possession skills and is good on the forecheck.

He could use some work on his skating, decision-making, awareness and positioning, though the Canadiens will surely help him develop those aspects early in his career.

Slafkovsky could enter Montreal's lineup immediately. The team struggled to a 22-49-11 record during the 2021-22 season for the worst finish in the league and could use a player of Slafkovsky's caliber.

Cole Caufield and Jonathan Drouin figure to be Montreal's top two left wingers during the 2022-23 season, so look for Slafkovsky to potentially slot in on the third line alongside Brendan Gallagher and Jake Evans.

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