"Everyone will love him. He is a future superstar," said the Montreal Gazette daily after the NHL draft. The Canadian newspaper was referring to Slovak ice hockey player Juraj Slafkovský.
In the draft he ended up being the number 1 pick, surpassing all the other hockey talent.News digest: Ice-hockey player Juraj Slafkovský makes NHL draft history Read more
Three Slovaks in the first round
"You could see that he was able to establish himself very well at the Olympics, at the World Championships, and also in the Liiga, the top hockey league in Finland, that is more defensive. The vast majority of players in this year's draft are not ready for the NHL. Slafkovský has a lot of experience from the past season," opined ice hockey expert Craig Button in an interview with the official NHL website.
"Not only did he play a lot, but he also achieved significant achievements. I would be surprised if he was not in the starting line-up of the Montreal Canadiens in the opening game of the season," added Button.
The expert had predicted that Canadian centre Shane Wright would be the number one pick in the draft. On the other hand, Button's assumption that Šimon Nemec would be the highest drafted defenseman this year played out. He was second to be chosen, by the New Jersey Devils.
In the first round of the draft, three Slovaks were chosen. After Slafkovský and Nemec, forward Filip Mešár was chosen by Montreal Canadiens as well. Juraj Slafkovský was happy because they are friends.Historic success for Slovak ice hockey: national team wins bronze Olympic medal Read more
The best place in the world
Juraj Slafkovský caused quite a stir in the Canadian city. His debut at a Canadiens training practice attracted hundreds of people to the club stadium.
"I do not remember ever seeing so many fans at the Canadiens training arena. And we are just talking about the evaluation camp of a team with the worst results in the NHL last season," noted Stu Cowan, a reporter for The Montreal Gazette, as quoted by TASR newswire.
After the training session, Slafkovský expressed joy at being in Montreal.
"It was really beautiful that [the fans] were here. It is a hockey town, I really enjoy it. I always wanted to play somewhere where people love hockey. I am probably in the best place in the world," he said.