What does Martin Réway’s future hold?
With his North American career seemingly at an end, where could Reway end up next?
The Montreal Canadiens and Martin Réway mutually agreed to terminate the talented Slovak’s contract so that he could return to Europe in order to continue his career with less pressure and be closer to home.
So what are Réway’s options now?
Having played in the Czech Extraliga and Swiss National Liga A (NLA) previously for Sparta Prague and Fribourg-Gottéron, respectively, Réway left both clubs with a bit of drama.
He forced his way out of Sparta Prague after his playing time was non-existent even after performing very well in his rookie year. He ended up in the NLA with the Dragons from Fribourg-Gottéron after a month-long hiatus from hockey. There he outperformed almost everyone in the German Cup (a national tournament), but after a concussion he didnt make a comeback in the playoffs and left Fribourg-Gottéron wishing them well through his Instagram account.
Looking at the leagues in Europe and the statement from Réway about his inability to stand out among the players on the Laval Rocket, you have to consider the quality of the AHL compared to the leagues in Europe. It’s also true that the European ice is bigger, and while that is usually not as big of a concern as it is often made out to be, the larger dimensions can offer some protection and a bit more time for a player who thrives on holding the puck and taking a more patient approach to offence.
Slovan Bratislava holds Réway’s rights in the KHL, and sources close to the team have the impression that he will be offered at least a one-month tryout contract to give him a chance for a return to the competitive ice. It would be a smart move for Slovan who is at the bottom of the KHL standings and could use Réway’s skills on the power play and the appeal of a young national to put some fans back in the stands after a slow start.
If Slovan Bratislava doesn’t work out for any given reason, could Réway return to the Czech Extraliga? With how he left Sparta Prague, it is doubtful. He has a reputation as a troublemaker because of how he left the team. Czech clubs with money would also probably spend it on proven players, not players with a reputation and the problems lingering from last year’s illness. He might seem like too much of a risk for a club to take a gamble on.
The NLA has rules regarding foreign players and a team might be tempted by his former success in the league, when he was shadowing Auston Matthews in points per game (1.11 for Réway versus 1.28 for the Torontno Maple Leafs forward). While most teams already have all import player slots allocated, the option to use an extra import player to be used versus certain teams or in case of an injury or suspension makes Réway’s situation alluring for a team in need of his skills.
Reway could practice with the Swiss team without pressure, play fewer games a week in order to get the chance to recover and build up stamina and conditioning after his illness. The pay in the NLA is also good, so a team could probably entice him to join the league once more.
This summer he practised with HC Banska Bystrica, the Slovak league champions, and could be an interesting fit there. He would be home in Slovakia, in a league with a slightly lower standard. He would be comfortable, and be able to be monitored by his doctors and rehabilitation coaches regularly in order to be even more secure in his development and rehabilitation.
While most are sad to see him leave the Canadiens organization, it is important to remember that this is a person who has recovered from a serious illness that threatened not only his hockey career but also his life. The fact that Réway has made a return to the ice and the game should in itself be hailed as a success.
To continue his career he will have to choose carefully in order to build on success rather than continuing his international tour of professional hockey leagues.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Reway for Eyes On The Prize, and I was struck by the thoughtfulness and candid answers that he gave. I wish nothing but the best for a truly gifted player, and if he returns to the competitive game I will be cheering him on every time I get the chance.