The Montreal Canadiens are hoping Juraj Slafkovsky can be an impactful player in the NHL this year after the 2022 first-overall draft pick failed to impress in the 39 games he played last season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign early.
OMAR: I really started thinking about Logan Cooley recently, and this is not a shot-- This is not a shot. But Habs fans are upset-- Have you guys seen this?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, yeah, very upset. Canadiens fans have been upset all summer. They've been pissed.
OMAR: Habs fan are watching Juraj, and they're like, mm, maybe we fumbled.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Canadiens fans--
OMAR: And I'm like, man, I don't know. Like--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I don't know. It's too soon to tell. I think, depending on who you talk to--
OMAR: I think it's too soon too, yeah.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --with Montreal Canadiens fans, they might have a more favorable look on Juraj Slafkovsky, who they took first overall in that draft. The one thing that I laughed about with Canadiens fans, Canadiens fans were more concerned about Matvei Michkov's usage in the KHL than Philadelphia Flyers fans, you know, the team that actually got to draft him. That made me laugh.
OMAR: Yeah. But Reinbacher is not, like, bad. Like, I don't know, like, I think he looked good in camp. I think he'll look good in the preseason, and, like, he'll become a good NHL defenseman. But, like, the Juraj draft, you know, like, you look at that top five, and it's just like, I forgot who else was in that draft. You know who else was in that draft?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Shane Wright was in that draft.
OMAR: Mr. Logan Cooley.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Logan Cooley was in that draft.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Yes, he was.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Simon Nemec was in that draft. I mean, the Canadians, they did come away with a center from that draft. They got Kirby Dach. He's gotten better. I don't know! To your point, Canadiens fans are very upset, because, right now, they've accumulated all these good prospects and players, but the same problem that has eluded them for so long remains there. They do not have enough elite-level talent.
OMAR: You know when I knew it was bad?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: When?
OMAR: When they started genuinely, like, no sarcasm at all, they genuinely were saying that Leafs prospects looked better. When I saw that, I was like, damn--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Did you see that tweet from that HabsFanTV account?
OMAR: Yeah, I saw that, and I was, like--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: He was like, oh, the Canadiens don't have a player like Matthew Knies.
OMAR: I was like, yo!
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I was like, what the hell is going?
OMAR: They are upset! I'm like-- And the comments, like, oh, I hate to admit it, I'm like, damn!
JULIAN MCKENZIE: What the hell's going on?
OMAR: (LAUGHING) What has happened? I was shocked. So when I saw it, I was like, man, the Juraj, I don't know, negativity is, like, growing. But I don't know, maybe they rushed him. Who knows? I don't know.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I mean, I don't know. Like, I mean, who was the last first-- I'm sure it's happened. Who's the last first overall pick You could think of who, instead of him being rushed to the lineup right away, they let him just cook in the AHL, or some other league, and then brought him in.
OMAR: Owen Power didn't play right away.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I guess Owen Power would probably be it, but even then, that's not something that happens all that often.
OMAR: Yeah, exactly.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: And I guess the Canadians, ultimately, they saw a player with the size and ability. They saw a player that they felt had a higher, like, ceiling, and they were like, OK, they need to take advantage of that, because, again, they need that elite-level talent. It might take time for them to get there, but if it does not work with Juraj Slafkovsky, man, it's going to be painful for that organization, same one that, at the beginning, it looked good. They were rebuilding.
Remember, "rebuild" was a very nasty word in the parts of Montreal, but now, now a lot of people are-- I don't want to say they're starting to get overwhelmingly impatient, but they're starting to look out into the distance, and wondering where that end is. When can they start getting excited about their team?