Slafkovsky takes center stage at Development Camp

BROSSARD – By a conservative estimate, hundreds of Canadians fans adorned the glass surrounding the ice surfaces at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday.

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They were there to watch prospects take part in Development Camp, but more accurately, they were eager to see Juraj Slafkovsky in action.

Slafkovsky didn’t disappoint, immediately showing off his scoring prowess, his strength with the puck, and his ability to drive the play from any area of ​​the ice.

Tweet from @MarcPDumont: SLAFGOALSKY pic.twitter.com/H4pOiQbMkU

And though the hulking Slovak was far from satisfied with his performance, he was clearly impressed with the scores of fans in attendance closely following his every move.

“It’s really nice,” said Slafkovsky. “It’s a hockey city, everyone loves hockey, and I enjoy that. I always wanted to play somewhere they love hockey, and I’m in the best spot in the world for that. It feels nice. I like to take photos and sign autographs, I enjoy it.”

Tweet from @MarcPDumont: I wonder if Habs fans are excited to see Slafkovsky…#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/YZtafX8rae

Fans have already gravitated towards this year’s first-overall pick, not only because of his potential, but his ability to toe the line between confidence and arrogance as well.

When asked about possibly playing on a line with Cole Caufieldwho quickly texted his new teammate following the Draft, Slafkovsky wisely poured some cold water on the topic.

“He’s already there and I have to fight for it,” he said. “We’ll see. I just want to show myself in the best way and fight for a contract.”

As for the reaction to his selection back home, there’s no doubt a certain Canadiens-mania is taking over the Slovak hockey landscape, especially when you consider his close friend, Filip Mesar, was also drafted by the Habs in the first round.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Our #NHLDraft livestream on Twitch caught the moment when Juraj Slafkovsky found out his best bud was joining him in Montreal.#GoHabsGo | @FordCanada pic.twitter.com/h0CgSCUNoO

“It’s just great that this happened, that we’re both on the same team,” said Slafkovsky. “I was telling the other guys before the Draft that it would be nice. I’m happy that I’m here with him.”

The pair has a very long history together. Saying their parents are tight-knit would be an understatement given both families vacation in the same areas whenever possible.

“It’s very special,” said Mesar. “I’m very happy there are two Slovak guys here. It makes it easier for me to adapt. We’ve known each other very well since we were kids.”

Their friendship will help both players feel increasingly comfortable as they embark on their journey to the NHL, but in Slafkovsky’s case, his immediate and honest immersion in the history of the Canadiens was quite evident.

And it will go a long way toward endearing him to the bevy of fans that are hanging on his every word.

“I’m still enjoying that I’m part of the organization,” he said. “But, I just want to focus on my game and do everything as best I can so I can fit with Montreal and win games. It’s great to be a Canadian, and it’s the best thing that could happen to me. I just need to work hard, to prove it.”

The Canadians’ development camp, which runs until Wednesday, will give Slafkovsky ample opportunities to prove his worth, though judging by his performance on the exercise bike in Brossard, structural reinforcements are in order.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: π˜‰π˜Œπ˜ˆπ˜šπ˜› π˜”π˜–π˜‹π˜Œ πŸ”‹#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/kGHr1E1QMB

When asked whether he damaged the bike, he responded with a wry smile.

“For sure, I am going to damage everything in here,” he said.

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