The Slovakia-born left-winger was a top prospect this year.
The Montreal Habs have selected this year's top international prospect in the first pick of the 2022 NHL Draft. 18-year-old Juraj Slafkovský who played left wing in the Finnish Elite League will join the team.
The Slovakia-born player was named MVP at the 2022 Beijing Olympics after helping his team win a bronze medal. He scored seven goals for his country at the Olympics, and three goals with six assists for his team at the IIHF World Championships in Finland this spring.
Though a surprise to many as top pick, Slafkovský was highly rated among those eligible for this draft, typically listed second or third in various mock drafts and player rankings.
Slafkovský was deemed the best eligible international skater by the NHL Central Scouting Services (CSS), which ranks prospective players based on how well their skills in the junior league can adapt to professional-level hockey.
The Canadiens General Manager Kent Hughes said earlier this week that Slafkovský and two other top players were highly favoured by the team.
@mtlblog The Montreal Canadiens officially draft Juraj Slafkovsky with the #1 overall pick in the 2022 #NHLDraft#mtl#mtlblog#montreal#quebec#habs#thehabs#mtlcanadiens#canadiens#draftnight#hockey#jurajslafkovsky#nhl#montrealcanadiens#514♬ original sound - mtl.blog
In the final moments before the draft opened it wasn't clear whether Montreal would pick Slafkovský or Ontario-born Shane Wright.
Known as a fast skater with keen decision-making skills, Wright ranked 8th in the Ontario Hockey League. During 63 regular-season games, he scored 94 points with 32 goals and 62 assists, and 28 power-play points with eight goals and 20 assists.
The 2022 NHL Draft is being held in-person for the first time since 2019. The past two editions were hosted virtually during the pandemic.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.