The Montreal Canadiens kicked off their rookie tournament against the Buffalo Sabres last night in Western New York. Though they fell 4-3 to the Buffalo young guns, there were some highlights, and some encouraging performances from some of the Habs hopefuls. I figured now is as good a time as any to bring back the Bottom Six Minutes for some observations and highlights from that game.
The first? Juraj Slafkovsky is built different.
He was all over the first period of the game, and put on an incredible short-handed forechecking display to set up Filip Mesar for the team’s second goal. He did so with cartoonish acceleration, showing that his reported weight gain has had zero negative impact on his skating.
I had to go back again, because FFS Slafkovsky was several steps behind and look how quick he closed the distance... pic.twitter.com/cgsW6DMC28— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 15, 2022
On several occasions, he saw some open ice and just decided to try and go one-on-five. It didn’t work out, but the confidence, speed, physicality, and puck skills impressed nonetheless.
And the aforementioned weight gain definitely helped him be incredibly difficult to knock down, at the very least.
One simply does not knock Juraj Slafkovsky down. pic.twitter.com/FkbDS1P9c5— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 16, 2022
Of course, cutting into the middle of the ice in that manner isn’t always the best idea, but it made for a heck of a highlight the way his would-be checker bounced right off him. He’s incredibly strong on his feet, and as his awareness improves, that should continue to be a major asset for him.
The second player to really stand out for me was Owen Beck. He was predictably great defensively, and managed to flash some additional offensive upside as well. He is a player that has potential for an offensive breakout in the OHL this season, and if it comes, he could very well be looked back at as a steal at 33rd-overall.
There were more interesting performances that I’ll note as well, so click the play button below to listen to my full thoughts on the game.