Events inseparable from sports on the other side of the Atlantic, drafts (or drafts) are the drivers of the perpetual renewal of the major North American sports leagues. A twist, a twist of fate, disappointments, questions… Drafts are essential elements of sports culture in North America. While some NHL franchises are focused on the playoffs, others are beginning to scrutinize the best talent for the 2022 draft. The event is scheduled for July 7. The CCS is mobilizing to present you with the best prospects available. Young talents who can perhaps change the fate of a franchise, see League…
Juraj Slafkovsky 🇨🇿
Date of Birth : March 30, 2004
Origin : GST (Liiga 🇫🇮 ) – 2021/2022 balance sheet: 29 -22-6
Position : Wingman (#60)
Cut : 192cm – Weight : 102kg – Shot : Left
Statistics (Via Elite Prospects)
Overview of his journey
Juraj Slafkovsky is rightfully considered the best european hope for this 2022 draft of the National League. Even more, the 17-year-old giant child embodies the emergence ofa golden generation in Slovakia. Proof being, Slafkovsky is expected to be the highest-scoring Slovak since sniper Marian Gaborikdrafted in third position in 2000. Slovakia, cradle of big names in world hockey, had to find a creative dynamic of talent, Slafkovsky is the illustration.
From Košice to TPS in Finland
Born in Košice, the flagship city of Slovak hockey in the east of the country, Juraj Slafkovsky made his debut in the youth teams of HC Košice where he is quickly upgraded. At only 14 years old during the 2017-18 season, he registered 30 goals in 54 games with the U16s of his club. Sent to the U18s that same year, he was 15 at the time, Slafkovsky scored 14 points in 18 games. The following season, 2018-19, the Slovak quickly passed through the Red Bull Hockey Academy U18 in Austria before disgusting the Czech U16 championship, registering 42 points including 19 goals in 22 games.
But, you will guess it very quickly, it is at international level that Juraj Slafkovsky has made a name for himself. With his teammates, also expected in the first round of this year’s repechage, Filip Mesar and Simon Nemec, Slafkovsky will make Slovakia a powerful nation on the international scene. During the year 2018-19, with the U16 selection, Slafkovsky played 13 games and scored 11 points including 5 goals. During the summer of 2019, he joined Finnish TPS club at the age of 16 years. Once again too strong for the U16s, he quickly joined the club’s U18s to register 52 points in 39 games during the 2019-20 season. The following year, 2020-21, is difficult for all prospects, hampered by a pandemic which makes the holding of the various championships uncertain. Slafksovky joins all the same TPS U20 team where he scored 13 points in 16 games.
2021-22 season: shy in Finland, brilliant internationally
Here we are now in the 2021-22 season, the year of the explosion for the young Slovak. Since last June, Slafkovsky does not seem to have left the rinks. He first joins Slovakia senior national team for the 2021 World Championships where he played 6 matches but did not score any points. A difficult but formative experience for him which will strengthen his character. Slafkovsky then joins the U18s for the Hlinka–Gretzky Cup where he writes 9 points including 3 goals in 5 games to give money to his country. A few weeks later, he participated in Slovakia’s qualification for the Winter Olympics in Beijing, delivering one assist in 3 games.
With TPS in Finland, Slafkovsky split the regular season between the under-20s in SM-Sarja (6 goals, 12 assists in 18 games) and the first team in Liiga. To put Slafkovsky’s adult season into context, it should be pointed out that TPS is a club contender for the title every year, playing one of the best defensive hockey in the country. The Slovak played 31 games, scored 10 points including 5 goals. In the U20s, Slafkovsky plays on the first line centered by Kasper Koskinen. Among seniors, ice time is harder to find. He started the season on the second line before dropping to the back two lines as title hopes emerged for TPS. So Slafkovsky played on average, less than 13 minutes per meeting. Key elements to explain the production of the young Slovak, despite the fact that he managed to create danger.
Slafkovsky on the roof of Olympus
Slovakia arrives at the Beijing Olympics with the label of the outsider carried by its youth but certainly not a contender for the medal. And yet, surprise after surprise, the Slovaks of a Juraj Slafkovsky on fire advances to semi-finals of the tournament after a victory against the United States. They fail against Finland, future winner, but surpass the Swedes to afford a first Olympic medal, it is bronze. Slafkovsky more than lives up to expectations, he is Slovakia’s No. 1 weapon. At only 17 years old, he scored 7 goals in 7 games including 2 in the match for bronze. He was named to the competition’s star-studded roster and the tournament’s best player.
With a physique like Juraj Slafkovsky’s, skating could be a tough gap to fill. And yet, this Slovak giant is far from being ridiculous with his skates. Admittedly, this is not his main strength but Slafkovsky knows how make the difference without the puck. Its speed is generally average, it will probably not be able to guide the counter-attacks. On the other hand the power he exudes in his lower body allows him to perform violent accelerations which can create separation. They are perhaps still too rare, but they have the merit of existing.
Slafkovksy excels on traveling in small spaces : very mobile, skates go fast, almost perfect balance, excellent braking in both directions. The Slovak is really capable of making aggressive and efficient movements in small areas which often allow him to obtain a preferential position for a shot or even to put pressure in the front zone. He loves to use his immense wingspan to get around defenders and get a little ahead in overtaking. With a long and massive body At just 18, Slafkovsky still needs to build stamina and muscle, but overall, his skating is of good quality.
⚔️ Offensive play
If some only discovered Slafkovsky at the last Winter Olympics, you easily think that the Slovak is a sniper. It’s true, but not only. Yes, Slafkovsky is a formidable goalscorer, extremely versatile. He knows how to create his own shot, land backhands up close, use a (very) powerful slap shot from difficult angles. A complete arsenal for such a young player. Slafkovsky mostly played on either wing since the beginning of his career. But his imposing physique and his sense of placement also allow him tohave playtime at the center, especially in numerical superiority. The Slovak knows how to hinder an opposing goalkeeper and has useful reflexes to deflect the puck or follow rebounds.
Slafkovsky is a goalscorer, from almost every position, but also a smuggler. The Slovak displays a combination of brilliant trajectory reading and breathtaking skill. His are great, his sense of hockey too: the precision and speed of execution of his short passes impress, you can entrust him with leading the attack at the entrance to the zone without any problem. The perfect partner to conclude a breakaway on the power play, Slafkovsky also has a quality that is difficult to develop even for experienced hockey players: the art of hiding one’s intentions. A quality that makes the speed of its movements in small spaces even more efficient.
🛡️ defensive play
Unlike a large majority of prospects, Juraj Slafkovsky does not lack power. And he knows how to use it effectively. Already, the Slovak is elite in puck protection. Control, keep, preserve, with his stature and his build, it is difficult to get him the puck on the stick. This scale, Slafkovsky also uses it very well to disrupt opposing crosses. Always in the effort, he does not hesitate to come to the aid of its defenders or simply stand back to play the second curtain.
The young Slovak love the physical challenge (easy when you are 192cm/100kg!), and always at the limit of the rules. His stick work is aggressive, his checks are rough but correct. Obviously, Slafkovsky excels in clearing in front of the net where his physique is a major asset for his team. One cannot yet consider Slafkovsky as a real penalty killeron the other hand, he has the potential : retention of the puck, developed forecheck, aggressive but within the rules, interferes with transmissions. If the Slovak knows how to play the spectacular side in attack he is disciplined in defense.
- Power of the shot.
- Creator of danger.
- Creator for him and for others.
- Conservation of the puck.
- Danger in numerical superiority.
- Master many shots.
- Hockey IQ.
- Deft hands.
- Top speed.
- Shooting from afar.
Minimum: Winger Top 6 // Maximum : Excellence player in special unit
2021 NHL Draft Projection: Top 5
Juraj Slafkovsky has risen in most scouting reports since his incredible Olympic campaign. Now projected in the Top 5, see podium, of the next repechage, the Slovak will be able to bring his physical power and his quality of finisher from his first year. He can legitimately apply for a place on the first two lines of a National League team. His maximum potential will depend on his defensive development. Today, Slafkovsky wouldn’t be dead weight in defense, far from it, but he still needs to progress to become a regular two-way threat.
Ideal deductible: Choice 4 / round 1 / Seattle Kraken
The NHL lottery has delivered its verdict! As often, we are looking for the best place in the best place for our recruits. Slafkovsky looks like a sure winner for the podium this year, but the Devils’ rise to second place may reshuffle the cards. In terms of environment and especially needs, the Seattle Kraken could see the Slovak slip off the podium. In its project, the 32nd franchise of the NHL must take the best talent available, in this case Slafkovsky. Yes the Kraken should seek defense, but not with a talent like him still available. Mostly, the association with Matty Beniers would be absolutely salivating: complementary, close to the exceptional in both directions of the ice and above all, in special team.