The Arizona Coyotes’ first pick at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft was always going to depend on what the New Jersey Devils did. There are a few top-tier players in this year’s draft, Montréal got theirs, the Devils got theirs, and the Coyotes got theirs with Slovakian forward Juraj Slafkovský.
The Kosice, SVK native, is a highly ranked player. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had him at number 1 in his May 31st prospect ranking, noting, “Slafkovsky has all the assets you’re looking for in a top NHL forward. He’s a 6-foot-4 winger who can beat opponents with speed and skill. He possesses outstanding puck skills and can put pucks through legs and sticks at a very high rate.”
Juraj Slafkovský already has the size and speed of an NHL player. He is listed as 6’4”, 218 pounds, and is already an established power forward. General Manager Bill Armstrong seems to prefer heavy players, and I’m sure head coach André Tourigny will love deploying Slafkovský after next season.
Slafkovský cemented his top prospect status with his play in international competitions. He had seven goals in seven games with Slovakia at the Olympics and three goals and six assists in eight games at the World Championship.
Slafkovský left the Olympics with plenty of accolades, something you want from a top prospect playing against some of the world’s top talent. He earned a gold medal and walked away as a member of the Olympics All-Star Team and the Olympic Most Valuable Player.
There are some questions about Slafkovský. He only had five goals and five assists in 31 games with TPS in Liiga, and he isn’t a consensus top-three pick. He has a lot of upsides, but he has a bit of risk.
With Slafkovský, the Coyotes have a major offensive weapon and arguably one of the best players at the draft. Fans may have wanted the team to draft Logan Cooley, but only because they didn’t expect Slafkovský to be available. Slafkovský and Guenther will be a one-two punch that teams will crave in the coming years, after a bit of time developing.
The Coyotes have two more picks, so check back later for future mock draft picks.