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  • 2022 NHL Draft: Juraj Slafkovsky’s stock is rising


    Welcome to Hockey Wilderness’ coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft. We will not act like experts, nor will we act like we have watched hours of footage of these players. So instead, we have opted to rely on the opinion of people who have, and have compiled plenty of information from different publications regarding these prospects. Note: This is not a ranking, but just going down a list of interesting draft-eligible dudes without any order in mind.

    Juraj Slafkovsky has played a lot of hockey since August 2021, and in a lot of different situations, and pretty consistently improved with each challenge set to him. Since August, we have seen him dominate at the Ivan Hlinki Under-18 tournament, 11 games with the TPS Turku junior team in Finland, he was named MVP of the Olympic tournament where he represented Slovakia, he played 31 regular season games for TPS in Liiga, 18 playoff games, and 4 championship games. In most draft projects last fall, he was often projected as a top 10 pick, but I think it’s fair to say his stock has only risen in the past year.

    He’s played against his peers where he was able to largely body other players, due to his size at 17 years old (now 18), but he’s also played against European men where he had to learn how to protect the puck with skill rather than relying only on his size. He’s skilled and big, there’s hardly a team out there that isn’t looking for that.

    Most lists I’ve seen in the last few months have seen him between 3 and 10, but Corey Pronman dropped his own personal top 127 prospects ranking today and put Slafkovsky at #1, and it’s safe to assume we’ll see a few more scouts as high on him in the weeks leading up to the draft, they’re betting on his upside. The question mark around Slafkovsky is whether he’ll maximize all his assets at the NHL level. Draft prospects like Shane Wright have a very high floor, but Slafkovsky has moments of dynamism that are a thrill to watch and he could turn into a star.

    Pre-Draft Rankings

    #1 (EU skaters) by NHL Central Scouting

    #5 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)

    #4 by Dobber Prospects (April)

    #8 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)

    #5 by EliteProspects

    What Scouts Are Saying

    Would They Fit In With The Wild?

    I mean, yeah? The Minnesota Wild certainly have got some wingers that won’t be here forever (Fiala, Zuccarello, even Greenway a few years down the line, etc. I know, I don’t want to think about it either.) And there aren’t many teams in the league that would turn their noses up at a skilled player with his size. 

    Could The Wild Get Them?

    Lol, the answer will likely be no for a bit. There will be some trade magic for Kevin Fiala that may or may not include a higher-ish draft pick – high enough to get any of the guys we’ll mention in the next few days? I wouldn’t bet on it.

    A Minnesota Relation

    Am I crazy to say the Big Rig? Slafkovsky is trending towards being a more skilled/more mobile player than Jordan Greenway, but there was certainly a long while that Greenway had that vision for himself. I would argue it wasn’t until more recently that we’ve seen him settle comfortably into his role on the Wild’s third-line. (Make no mistake about that though, I am not underselling the importance of the GREEF line, it is potentially the best checking line in the NHL right now, I’m just not sure if that would be where Slafkovsky would slot in. Comps are tricky.)

    2022 NHL Draft Board

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