As the draft gets closer, there is a lot of noise and speculation debating who should be the number 1 pick: Shane Wright or Juraj Slafkovsky. First I will do a prospect profile on both prospects, and then I will see who would be the better fit for the teams with the 1st and 2nd picks.
Related: Shane Wright
Related: Juraj Slafkovsky
As the year has gone on and the closer it gets to the draft, the more you hear about the potential of Shane Wright not being the number 1 overall pick, as several analysts have dropped him from the top spot due to his 2021-22 season, but I just want to say that if a player is able to put up 32 goals and 94 points on a bad Kingston Frontenacs teams on a “subpar year” than that player is a safe bet to be a great NHL player. Shane Wright may not be the goal scorer that he was once hailed as, but he is one of the more complete two-way centers in the draft class and has excellent hockey sense on both sides of the puck. This will go a long way in the NHL and it is important to keep in mind there is more to hockey than just scoring. While Wright appears to lack that dynamic offensive ability that other former number 1 overall picks do, he has the strong skating ability and has a great release on his shot if he has space, especially on the powerplay. Wright reminds me a lot of Jonathan Toews, in a sense that he may not be winning scoring titles or leading his team in scoring, but he plays the game with tremendous hockey sense and leadership. Shane Wright should project to be an elite two-way center in the NHL.
As the year has gone on, Juraj Slafkovsky’s stock has shot up tremendously, with many experts even having him ranked over Shane Wright. Slafkovsky was a stand-out in the U-20 SM-sarja league in the 2021-22 season, amassing 18 points, while also putting up 10 points in 31 games in Liiga with TPS. In the playoffs, Slafkovsky had 7 points in 18 games, outstanding for an 18-year-old playing against adults in a top professional league. Slafkvosky was a standout player for Slovakia, capturing a 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup Slovakian team, capturing a silver medal. The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing marked his Olympic debut while being one of the youngest players on the team at 17. He finished with Tournament MVP honors, scoring 7 goals in 7 games. Slafkovsky brings elite offensive skills in a 6’4/229 frame and has already shown he can excel against older competition. He uses his size, reach, and strength as an effective and active checker in the offensive and defensive zone and is exceptional at protecting the puck, has creative hands and a high ceiling. The potential of what Slafkovsky can be as he continues on in his development is intoxicating. A 6-foot-4 winger with physicality, high-end skill, and one of the better overall shots in this draft, it’s hard not to get excited. Juraj Slafkovsky could very well be the next Jaromir Jagr, or he could never live up to his massive potential to become a solid power forward similar to Nathan Horton if he can’t improve on his skating. Juraj Slafkovsky has the potential to be a top-line, high-scoring winger, but if he doesn’t reach that potential, he can be a solid power forward.
Who Should go #1
In order to fully answer who should go number 1 overall, we need to take a look at the needs of the teams with the first and second picks, and see which player best fits on which team. The Montreal Canadiens have the first pick in the draft, and their biggest need is a top 6 center, after Nick Suzuki, their depth is pretty weak. With that in mind, the best fit for the Montreal Canadiens would be Shane Wright because he is a natural center and could eventually become their captain. While Juraj Slafkovsky may have higher potential, he is a riskier pick because
he may have to go through an adjustment period player on a smaller rink than he is accustomed to. Shane Wright is the most NHL-ready player and could step in next season and be an impact player straight away for Montreal. With Shane Wright going first overall to Montreal, the New Jersey Devils select Juraj Slafkovsky with the 2nd pick, assuming they don’t trade the pick away. Slafkovsky is a better fit for New Jersey than for Montreal because he would be allowed to play his natural position and would play alongside Jack Hughes, forming a pretty lethal duo.
The Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky debate is something that happens every draft where experts and scouts try to convince you that player other than the consensus number 1 prospect should be the 1st overall pick. This is just to create talking points and buzz surrounding the draft, and create controversy, so you as fans are more intrigued with the draft. It’s one thing for the fans to fall for the bait, but teams and GMs cannot get caught up in the hype train or they may end up making a huge mistake that costs them for years.