Rumor: Juraj Slafkovsky facing an early demotion to start the season.
Montreal Canadiens/X  

Rumor: Juraj Slafkovsky facing an early demotion to start the season.

The first overall pick at the 2022 draft may be headed for a rough start to the season.

Jonathan Larivee

Montreal Canadiens first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky may be headed for an early demotion to start the 2023-24 National Hockey League regular season. In a recent article published in Le Journal de Quebec, a French language publication, Jonathan Bernier detailed his belief that the Habs number one prospect could very well be headed for a start in the American Hockey League this season.

Bernier cites the fact that, with 12 forwards signed to NHL contracts, there will be relatively little room for Slafkovsky in the lineup should everyone prove to be healthy coming out of training camp. Any way you slice it this would prove to be a significant demotion for the 19 year old forward that appeared in 39 games for the Canadiens last year, scoring 4 goals and adding 6 assists for a total of 10 points prior to missing the latter half of the season due to injury.

Bernier however argues that this could be a better opportunity for Slafkovsky to develop, with the forward being limited to an average of just 12 minutes and 13 seconds per game last season. While it is true that Habs head coach Martin St. Louis did deploy Slafkovsky sparingly last season, that doesn't mean he necessarily intends to do so once again.

That being said, Bernier's argument is that if St. Louis' plans for Slafkovsky are similar to those he had last season, it could be more beneficial for the youngster to gain more experience with more ice time at the AHL level. It would be a tough sell to fans however as there have been huge expectations placed on the shoulders of the first overall pick, expectations that are only amplified by the Canadiens rabid fan base.