Juraj Slafkovsky had several reasons to smile on Thursday. One of them: He and one of his best friends are now teammates.
Updated at 12:45 p.m
That friend is Filip Mesar, CH’s other first-round pick in this repechage. The Habs claimed this forward at 26e Rank.
This year, the two Slovakian accomplices even vacationed together in Turkey. “We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Mesar said. It’s amazing to experience that with him. It’s really crazy being with one of my best friends. Customization becomes easier. »
After his press conference, the two new Swiss hopefuls met in a corridor of the Bell Center. Their handshake was practically a repeat of that between Carl Weathers and Arnold in predatorless obscene language.
Slafkovsky was delighted. “He’s underestimated. He’ll be very good,” he said of Mesar.
Kent Hughes, meanwhile, hinted that the team is well aware of the friendship. “But it didn’t affect our decision. It has nothing to do. We picked him because he was the best player available, but friendship is a nice bonus. »
In North America ?
Mesar describes himself as “talented, fast, but [qui doit] to enhance [s]in physical play and in the defensive zone. He was a center for a long time, but has been playing mainly on the wing for the last two years and sees himself there with the pros.
Unlike Slafkovsky, who played at a higher level, Mesar spent last season at HK Poprad in Slovakia, scoring eight goals and eight assists in 37 games. But it looks like the experiment is coming to an end as he revealed North America, Finland and Sweden as his main options for next season.
If he plays Canadian junior hockey, he must report to the Kitchener Rangers, who own his rights, who drafted him eighth overall in the 2021 European Draft.
Great Slovak Day
The others who smiled were the Slovak journalists who are in Montreal to cover this draft!
Slovakia literally had a historic day, with the selection of Slafkovsky on the front row and Devils defender Simon Nemec in second place. So there are three players from this country who were challenged in the first round.
Ahead of Slafkovsky and Nemec, the earliest Slovak draft was Marian Gaborik (third overall by The Wild in 2000).
“Today is a big day for Slovakia! ‘ Mesar started. The word is weak.