With Wednesday representing the first day of the new league year, players picked in last week’s draft are now eligible to sign contracts. The Canadiens wasted little time getting their top selection signed, announcing they’ve inked Juraj Slafkovsky to a three-year, entry-level deal.
Slafkovsky was the first-overall selection by the Habs back on Thursday in a move that came as a surprise to some with the team passing on Shane Wright. The big winger had a quiet season in Finland, putting up five goals and five assists in 31 games with TPS Turku while logging over 14 minutes a game. Those numbers are strong for a draft-eligible player but usually not enough to make him the top pick.
However, the 18-year-old was much more noticeable on the international scene, leading the Olympics in goals with seven in as many games while picking up more than a point per game for Slovakia at the World Championship back in May. It’s those performances there that convinced Montreal that the 6’3 winger has the upside to be a top-line power winger in the NHL.
While Slafkovsky has another year left on his deal in Finland, this contract supersedes that one. That means that the Canadiens have full control on where he starts next season. Since he isn’t subject to the CHL-NHL rule that stops junior-aged players from playing in the minors, Slafkovsky is allowed to go play in Laval.
Generally speaking, first-overall selections almost always make the jump to the NHL right away with Owen Power in Buffalo being a rare exception last year. At the moment, it seems likely that Slafkovsky will follow the usual trend but if the Canadiens aren’t able to clear their logjam on the wings, the fact he can be shuffled down to Laval will give GM Kent Hughes some extra flexibility.
Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but first-overall picks typically receive maximums in all categories. For 2022 draft picks, that would be:
NHL salary: $855,000
Signing bonus: $95,000
‘A’ bonuses: $1 million
‘B’ bonuses: $2.5 million
That would make the AAV if everything was reached at $4.45 million.