NHL Draft: Canadian picks 26th overall, with his 2nd pick in the 1st round

MONTREAL — Even after the Canadian had reserved some surprise for his supporters by picking Juraj Slafkovsky in the front row, his compatriot Filip Mesar’s selection could also surprise.

To see more clearly, we exchanged messages with four recruiters, including one European, covering Slovakia and the Czech Republic. But before we get to the sporting side, we need to address the human component, which was nice to look at.

Learning that the Canadian had just fished one of his best friends, Slafkovsky hurriedly left the lodge he had been in to join his family. The two friends were able to exchange a hug and an unforgettable moment. They now hope to live several in the Habs’ uniform.

“It’s wonderful, it’s quite a crazy night for Slovakia. That will make it easier for me to settle in, everything went well,” Mesar explained with the smile of a dream come true.

Slafkovsky, Mesar and Simon Nemec (2e Choice of the Night) grew up together and couldn’t believe what had just happened in the Montreal Amphitheater.

As the season progressed, Mesar began to suspect a connection with the Habs was developing.

“We spoke virtually a few times and on combined (in Buffalo) we had a long meeting of about 30 minutes. It’s really exciting for me,” he noted.

In 2021-22, Mesar didn’t lead the Slovak league with eight goals and eight assists in 37 games. He also wants to play at another circuit.

“I’m open to all scenarios. We will undoubtedly make plans (with the Canadians) for next season. But I don’t want to stay in the same place. I want to go to North America or try another European professional league like Sweden or Finland,” he said.

If he chooses to continue his career in the Canadian junior ranks it would be with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Junior League as they picked him in the 9the Relay in the CHL European Draft in 2021.

When Mesar’s name was spoken by Martin Lapointe, we confirmed what we believed: his ranking varied from 15e at 60e Rank according to various lists.

Luckily, the recruiters agreed to share their verdict with us. It’s not that common, but their conclusion is unanimous: Mesar was ranked right near where the Canadian picked him.

“He had a very good year in the Slovak League. He’s a winger with very good skills and he can play in the middle. He’s been used a lot on the power play and his skating is worthy of the NHL,” said the consulted European recruiter.

“Despite his unassuming physique, he’s not afraid to play within face-off points. His potential could make him a good second-line player,” he continued.

An eastern club scout who has watched Mesar many times agreed.

“He’s a good playmaker who can score goals. He’s pretty solid for a smaller player,” he said.

Mesar sounds like a youngster who is very aware of his strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m a very creative and fast player with great skills. But I need to improve my physical side and my defensive zone play. My greatest strengths are the power play and creative moves,” said the 1.75 meter tall right-hander.

In the Black Book of Hockey Prospect, the summary indicates that it would be difficult to find a player this year who exemplifies a style of modern hockey better than he does. That’s music to the ears of Martin St-Louis, who did an excellent job addressing the crowd before the start of the first lap.

“It took me 47 years to participate in my first draft and it was worth the wait,” he joked deliciously.

As for Mesar, if he fulfills his potential, he could become a good second-line player.

Among the flats emitted around it, this one popped up a few times.

“He’s been one of the hardest players to assess this season as he’s looked like a top 15 player at times. But a few minutes later you thought he didn’t belong in the first round,” said a Hockey Prospect scout.

Mesar will want to show that he is more in line with the first impression, the positive one. The motivation to continue developing with his amazing friend will certainly not hurt his development.

Therefore, it was impossible to let Mesar go without asking him why he believed Slafkovsky deserved to be the first choice.

“He’s the most ready player for the NHL. He’s big and strong, he has a very good throw and a good feeling for hockey. He needs to improve his first steps, but I think he’s the best player in this draft,” concluded Mesar, who was delighted with the 26th draft.e Rung.

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