2021-22 Team: TPS (Liiga)
Date of Birth: March 30, 2004
Place of Birth: Kosice, Slovakia
Ht: 6’4” Wt: 218 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 2nd (among EUR skaters)
- Future Considerations: 8th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 4th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 3rd
- Matthew Zator’s February Rankings: 6th
- SMAHT Scouting: 7th
- Bob McKenzie’s Mid-Season Rankings: 5th
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: 14th
To start the year, many had Juraj Slafkovsky somewhere in the six to 12 range in the first round. He has a high upside, but could he get it done on the big stage and do it consistently. Well, 2021-22 came with opportunity for the young Slovak who saw time with the big club in the Liiga, suiting up for TPS, as well as a chance to wear his country’s colours when he played a major role for Slovakia at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
The nearly 18-year-old scored twice in the bronze medal game as the Slovaks defeated Sweden to capture its first medal in men’s hockey at the Olympics. As for Slafkovsky, he finished with seven goals in seven games at the Olympics — an impressive run for the youngster in his draft year. Oh, and did we mention he also won the MVP award at the Olympics as well?
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
As for what he brings with his game, he’s a big kid at six-foot-four and around 220 pounds. At 18, he’s likely not done filling out. He has the potential to grow into a legitimate power forward by definition with his high-end offensive skill and his ability to engage in a big way physically. Call it a mean streak, but Slafkovsky’s size and physical edge makes him arguably one of the more dominant players in this draft — especially coming right out of the draft.
While the Olympics may have been a short tournament and we can’t solely base our analysis on those games, Slafkovsky’s maturity in his game was overwhelming not to mention it. His strength and puck-protection were well beyond his years and while there are some small areas that will progress with big-league development, Slafkovsky’s stock jumped with his play this season.
Don’t forget, prior to jumping to Finland’s Liiga with TPS, Slafkovsky was averaging 1.64 points per game with the under-20 team. While the production has dropped offensively with TPS, he still has 10 points in 31 games and is holding his own against players much older than him.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Juraj Slafkovsky – NHL Draft Projection
As mentioned, the Olympics played a role in boosting Slafkovsky’s stock as did his promotion to the Liiga. His size and strength will be a huge asset to any team that takes him and the offensive pedigree will only further develop with time. Where some have him as a top-10 pick, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Slafkovsky as a top-five — even top-three — pick in the draft. If the Olympics was any indication, he’s worth taking a waiver on.
“He’s an elite player by the boards where his puck protection ability has drawn comparisons to Jaromir Jagr.” – Western Conference Scout, Elite Prospects
“Juraj Slafkovsky has the tools to be a top six power forward at the NHL level. His reachability makes him a true threat in every puck battle and allows him to net separation to get past attackers and find passing lanes.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
“Juraj Slafkovsky is a very, very special player. Incredible hands and mobility for a guy that’s as enormous as he is. I’ll be shocked if he’s not one of the first five players picked in the 2022 draft. He’s raw now, but the best-case scenario with him is sky-high.” Derek Neumeier, Future Considerations
- Strength and size
- Strong board play
- Puck possession and protection
- Elite level shot
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Speed and skating
- Neutral zone recognition
- Offensive zone entries
The ceiling for Slafkovsky is incredibly high. With his size and strength, he has the potential to turn into an elite power forward at the NHL level and become a mainstay in an organization’s top six. There are some small holes in his game, but nothing that can’t be fixed with experience and maturity, but all the tools are there to work with.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense – 7/10
His international achievements are noteworthy. Prior to being an Olympic star, Slafkovsky won a silver medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2021-22. He went on to play for Slovakia not long after at the Olympics where he helped the team win a bronze medal while also being named the MVP of the men’s tournament as well as being named to the Olympic all-star team. He finished with the most goals in the tournament as well as the most points of any player.
Juraj Slafkovsky Statistics
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.