August 13, 2022

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Van Den Bergh dethrones Wright to arrange MVG showdown

7:32 PM ET MONTREAL — Slovakian-born skaters dominated early on the 2022 NHL draft, the...

7:32 PM ET

MONTREAL — Slovakian-born skaters dominated early on the 2022 NHL draft, the place left winger Juraj Slafkovsky went No. 1 total to the Montreal Canadiens and defenseman Simon Nemec was chosen at No. 2 by the New Jersey Devils on Thursday evening.

They turned the highest-selected Slovakian gamers in historical past, surpassing Marian Gaborik, who went third total in 2000.

Slafkovsky was the shock selection at No. 1 over Shane Wright, who slid all the way in which to the Seattle Kraken at No. 4. Wright, a Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) heart, had lengthy been thought-about this draft’s prime prospect, however Slafkovsky’s stellar yr elevated his inventory sufficient to unseat Wright.

Slafkovsky mentioned he was caught off guard when Montreal common supervisor Kent Hughes introduced his title.

“I felt they have been fairly ,” he mentioned. “After I heard ‘from Slovakia’ I went, ‘Wow!’”

Logan Cooley of the U.S. nationwide crew improvement program (NTDP) went to the Arizona Coyotes with the No. Three choose, and left wing Cutter Gauthier went fifth to the Philadelphia Flyers to spherical out the highest 5.

At 18, Slafkovsky already has the scale (6-foot-4, 218 kilos) of an influence ahead to enhance his finesse as a extremely expert offensive participant. He developed his fame as a hard-nosed, aggressive skater with TPS of the Finnish League; final season he produced 5 objectives and 10 factors in 31 video games.

In contrast to a few of his friends, Slafkovsky has expertise taking part in with and towards males internationally. He was simply 17 when named to the Slovakian Olympic crew in 2022 and excelled past expectations. Slafkovsky led the Olympic discipline with seven objectives in seven video games to assist Slovakia take house bronze, the nation’s first Olympic medal in ice hockey, and earn match MVP honors.

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New Jersey held the No. 2 choose and was unlikely to pick out a middle given its depth on the place. The Devils went as a substitute with Nemec, Slafkovsky’s Olympic teammate. Nemec is a coveted right-shot blueliner with offensive upside and projected NHL readiness. He might rapidly add depth to a New Jersey backend in want of it.

“I misplaced the phrases,” Nemec mentioned of being the second choose. “We have been youngsters after we dream about NHL draft.”

The Arizona Coyotes had the chance to snag Wright at No. 3, however went with a special heart in Cooley. Though he is smaller than Wright at 5-foot-10, Cooley performs an enormous two-way recreation and has nice offensive capability, as he showcased in his 75-point efficiency by 51 video games with the NTDP final season.

When Seattle common supervisor Ron Francis stepped to the rostrum at No. 4, he did not hesitate to call Wright because the crew’s choice. Wright began final season slowly with 22 factors in 19 video games earlier than rallying to complete with 94 factors in 66 video games. He is not a generational expertise, however Wright can develop right into a No. 1 heart, and for the growth Kraken he provides a franchise cornerstone to construct round for years to come back.

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Wright mentioned would play with a chip on his shoulder and with “a little bit extra hearth” after three groups handed on him within the draft.

Gauthier, one other NTDP product, is an enormous physique (6-foot-4) with a booming shot and strong defensive upside. His ability set is much less dynamic than another prime prospects, which inserts probably the most bruising, bodily type the Flyers play with. It is a pure match.

Data from the Related Press was used on this report.