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2022 Draft Prospect Profile: Juraj Slafkovsky is the next great power forward

With a comparison to a Columbus legend

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Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 15 Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It’s that time of year again! We’re less than a month away from the first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, on Thursday, July 7. The Columbus Blue Jackets will be picking at #6 and #12. Next up, another top prospect:

Juraj Slafkovsky

Position: LW
Team: TPS (Liiga)
Date of Birth: March 30, 2004
Birthplace: Kosice, Slovakia
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 218 lbs
Shoots: Left

Rankings

Ranked #3 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #3 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #4 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #5 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #3 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #4 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #1 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #3 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #1 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #6 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #4 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #4 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #4 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #6 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY

2021-22 Stats

Games Played: 31
Goals: 5
Assists: 5
Points: 10
PIM: 33
Plus/Minus: +1

Slafkovsky’s stats in Liiga aren’t necessarily what you’d expect from a likely top 3 pick, though a 17 year old playing in a good professional league is a accomplishment in itself. He scored 18 points in 11 games for the club’s U20 team, which speaks to his performance against his peers.

Where Slafkovsky really gained attention this year was on the international stage. He scored seven goals in as many games as Slovakia won a surprise bronze medal. This earned Slafkovsky the MVP award for the tournament. Again, he was just 17 at the time. He followed up that point per game pace with nine points in eight games in the World Championships last month.

The Athletic’s Corey Pronman is one expert who has bucked convention and ranked Slafkovsky ahead of Shane Wright as the top prospect. He compares prospects to current NHL players, but for Slafkovsky he turned to an older one: our own Rick Nash. We saw how Nash was able to make an instant impact in the league as a teenager 20 years ago, and it seems possible that Slafkovsky can follow in his footsteps, with the same rare combination of size and skill.

Scouting Reports

Slafkovsky has all the assets you’re looking for in a top NHL forward. He’s a 6-foot-4 winger who can beat opponents with speed and skill. He possesses outstanding puck skills and can put pucks through legs and sticks at a very high rate. Slafkovsky can use finesse, or power and quickness to get around defenders. Slafkovsky can also set up and finish plays well. Physically, he won’t run over guys but his compete is good enough. He projects as a top-line winger with the potential to pop and become a true star in the NHL. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

“For me Slafkovsky seems to be one of the most NHL-ready players in this draft,” NHL Central Scouting chief European scout Janne Vuorinen said. “He’s already a very mature player on the ice and seems able to adjust very comfortably at any level he has played this season from the Hlinka Gretzky Cup to Liiga, from the Winter Olympics to World Championship. He just turned 18 [on March 30], but is one of the strongest players. He can even dominate on the men’s level at such a young age and he really seems to enjoy the challenge to compete against the best players. On the ice he’s always willing to succeed, not survive.” - NHL.com

I view Juraj Slafkovsky as one of the top prospects in this year’s class and think it would be a great move if the Devils were to select him 2nd overall. He has the size of a power forward at 6’4”, 218 lbs. with the soft hands and finesse of a dynamic top line wing that makes him a real threat. A case could be made that he’s the most projectable prospect in this year’s class and could end up being the best player to come out of it. I also think it’s worth noting that he’s shown the ability to play for one of the top teams in Liiga as a 17-year-old and hold his own against men. He’s also starred on the international stage at both the junior and men’s levels. - Brian Franken, All About the Jersey

Highlights