There were a lot of people at mass to witness Juraj Slafkovsky’s first strides in Brossard as a member of the team.
Posted yesterday at 8:56 p.m.
There were crowds around the bay windows, the Habs returning to development camp after two years of cancellation.
But there was also a crowd on the ice rink. Not so much the players, even that it was dropping like flies at a certain point. Rather, it was the number of coaches that caught the eye. They were 13 (!), from Marie-Philip Poulin to Vincent Lecavalier via Adam Douglas, a guy who always looks like he’s drunk three Monsters when you see him giving orders on the ice rink.
Thirteen coaches, “it was quite interesting,” said forward Sean Farrell modestly.
Most people there were seeing Slafkovsky in action, in person, for the very first time, but not Farrell. The small striker has not only seen Slafkovsky in the flesh before, he even faced him. It was February 16, at the Beijing Games, a duel between Slovakia and the United States during which the European scored a goal.
“Everyone on the team was impressed,” Farrell recalled in a scrum after Monday’s practice. He plays with a grid because he’s 17 and he was probably their best player. »
He’s big, powerful, he can do anything.
Sean Farrell on Juraj Slafkovsky
What was he doing so well? “His way of controlling the puck. We had several pros on our team and he stole the puck from them quite easily. »
Understand by this that Farrell did not fall backwards when the Habs drafted Slafkovsky in first place, five months later.
It was with this Slafkovsky that Farrell reconnected on Monday. The two players, possibly the Canadian’s two best offensive hopefuls, even did a few three-on-three drills together. One of those drills ended with a goal from Slafkovsky, after Farrell was in possession for a long time.
Despite this goal, the great Slovak was not entirely satisfied with his day. “I was a bit tired and I had new equipment. But these are not excuses. I have to be better,” he ruled.
A contract, but no tournament?
The camp will continue until Wednesday. Slafkovsky intends to land a contract there. “I have the right to sign a contract from July 15, so I still have four days,” he stressed. (Note: in fact, he’s eligible as of July 13.)
This contract should be a formality. Before Owen Power, who left to play a year in college, the first four overall picks who preceded him (Alexis Lafrenière, Jack Hughes, Rasmus Dahlin and Nico Hischier) signed their contracts an average of 16 days after the draft .
Despite this allusion to the contract, Slafkovsky does not look like a guy who thinks he is guaranteed a job. Take this response from issue 60 about Cole Caufield, who he texted with. Many already see them forming a trio with Nick Suzuki in the fall. “He’s already gone, but I have to fight for my place. So we’ll see”, to launch the charismatic Slovak.
Since the canceled 2004-05 season, all first overall picks have made the jump directly to the NHL except for Erik Johnson (2006) and Owen Power (2021).
But before thinking about next season, there is the World Juniors, which will take place exceptionally in August. Except that listening to him announce his summer schedule, he didn’t sound like a guy who had this event on his agenda. We guess that the Habs will have a say in the decision.
While the spotlight will be on Slafkovsky, Farrell will continue his development in the tranquility of Harvard University.
This 124e pick in 2020 continues to progress at an unexpected pace, having amassed 28 points in 24 games last season. Had he not missed a third of the games due to the Olympics and injury, he would have finished the year as the team’s top scorer at age 20.
Like Slafkovsky, Farrell also has his goals, but they are more distant: “to lead our team to the league championship, to the Beanpot [un tournoi à Boston] and fight for the national championship,” he listed.
If he stays healthy, he could also be aiming for a selection for the Hobey-Baker Trophy (most NCAA player).
“That would be awesome,” he admitted. I will be surrounded by very good players at Harvard and if we have a good season, this kind of thing will work itself out. »
Lots of injuries!
The return to the rink was painful for some! The Habs have announced that Jayden Struble will miss the rest of development camp with a lower-body injury suffered Monday. During the session, another defender, Gianni Fairbrother, also appeared to hurt his lower body. It is without forgetting the attacker Luke Tuch, hit in the face or near the throat, who returned to the bench in pain.