Another day, another lopsided Montreal Canadiens loss, this time at the hands of the Nashville Predators. This string of ugly losses has been good for the projected draft lottery odds, but has made for frustrating times among the fan base. Losses were expected this year, but we’re left with more questions than answers from a development standpoint.
For instance, did the Habs really draft Juraj Slafkovsky first-overall to be a fourth line grinder?
If the answer to that question is no, then it is confusing to an infuriating degree that this is how he’s being used. Playing just over 11 minutes, only five at even-strength, while stapled to the likes of Jake Evans and Michael Pezzetta doesn’t seem like a spot you’d reserve for a first-overall pick. I truly don’t believe this is the role they want him to fill in the future, so why is he playing in that position on a nightly basis?
I can understand if the coaching staff and greater organization don’t feel he’s ready for top-six minutes, but then it makes less than zero sense that they held him out of the World Junior Hockey Championship. Canada just played a wildly entertaining game with Slovakia the night prior, and one of the big narratives around that game was what could have happened if Slafkovsky was in the lineup for the Slovaks. We’ll never know, because apparently him playing fourth line minutes for Montreal was more important than finding out.
If holding him out of that tournament was truly necessary, then give him some real minutes. With the team losing badly every night anyways, what do you really have to lose?
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We will return when the Habs are back in Montreal, as they’ll host the New York Rangers this Thursday night at the Bell Centre.