By JD Lagrange – Well, there it is. Juraj Slafkovsky has played his ninth game of the season last night against the Vegas Golden Knights. And he took the opportunity to score his third goal of the season. Along with Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach, he was one of the bright spots for Canadiens in that game.
Yet, he finished the night with 11:34 of ice time, with no power play time once again. He had three shots on goal, one blocked shot and one takeaway in the game. But more than that, the young Slovak was very effective on the forecheck and generated scoring chances for his line.
Slafkovsky’s three goals are tied for third best on the Canadiens this season with Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak (who scored them all in the same game including an empty net goal). Only Anderson has more hits than him amongst forwards.
You have a bunch of expansive dead wood getting ice time, time on the ice that is not deserved and that would be more beneficial to the development of the first overall pick at the last NHL Draft. Evgenii Dadonov is “injured” but was extremely ineffective. Mike Hoffman and Jonathan Drouin are just as ineffective, although we can see a bit of effort from the later. Last night, Hoffman was particularly horrific, with bad decisions and poor execution and that, coming back from being a healthy scratch. Can you believe that he even played a minute short-handed against Vegas?!?
But let’s return to Slafkovsky. It seems like there are some Canadiens’ fans who feel like the team’s brass should concern themselves with “losing a year” eligibility by keeping him in the NHL. You see, Kent Hughes has the option of having a year “slide” if he sends the young prospect to the American Hockey League (AHL). They feel like that is what’s best for the young man’s development. It is debatable, but certainly defendable.
However, the Canadiens are NOT concerned about losing a year. Whether he’s sent down to Laval prior to the next game or not, Slafkovsky will play too many games in the NHL this season. Even if they send him to the AHL, he will most certainly be called up from time to time. So folks, let’s allow management to deal with the situation. They have a plan and they will follow it.
In my personal opinion, the issue is his ice time and Hughes’ focus must be to unload some dead wood from the wings’ position. We have learned that the Canadiens have had discussions with the Capitals, amongst other teams. But nothing is apparently imminent. Even more so now that the Caps have picked up Nicolas Aubé-Kubel off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Something has to give and the sooner, the better both for the development of Slafkovsky, but also for team spirit as the atmosphere cannot be at its best in the dressing room with those three players being unhappy. More than what’s happening on the ice, this cannot be an easy situation for young captain Suzuki.