If you’re a Canucks fan, you likely haven’t done much reading about Juraj Slafkovsky.
But on Friday morning’s 32 Thoughts Podcast, Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman spoke about a conversation they had with Slafkovsky, who is projected to be selected second overall at this year’s NHL Entry Draft in Montreal.
The 18-year-old winger, ranked 1st overall among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, told Friedman and Marek in a past conversation that a few teams he spoke with asked if the left winger had the ability to play centre. The two teams he remembered?
The New Jersey Devils – who currently hold the second overall pick – and the Vancouver Canucks, who are slated to pick first at 15th.
One of these things is not like the other.
Here’s the full transcript of the conversation between Marek and Friedman.
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Marek: An interesting note: We asked Slafkovsky about it because he’s a winger, but we asked about playing centre as well and he has played centre before in his life. He said that a few teams asked him if he would be able to play centre at this point or play centre in the NHL. He was trying to remember and the two teams he gave us were New Jersey and Vancouver as he was trying to remember which teams asked him if he would play centre as well.
Friedman: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I could be making something out of absolutely nothing here — something out of absolutely nothing. But that’s what podcasting and sports discussion is all about. You just said two teams asked Salfkovsky about playing centre.
Marek: Minimum two teams — he said there were a few teams, the ones that he could remember, he believed it was New Jersey and Vancouver.
Friedman: Okay, here’s my thing. Where’s New Jersey pick?
Marek: Second.
Friedman: Where’s Vancouver?
Marek: 15, right after the Winnipeg Jets and before the Buffalo Sabres.
Friedman: Why would the Vancouver Canucks be asking Salfkovsky if he can play centre? They’re not getting him at 15.
Marek: Unless they move up. I think you have to always do your due dilligence. Like, ‘what would it cost to get into the top three?’ I think everybody has those conversations. Just like you talked about the other day, you know, Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils making a list of ‘okay, who from which teams would we be willing to trade the second overall pick for?’ I think if you’re any team, you know, you’re the Los Angeles Kings or the Dallas Stars or the Washington Capitals or in this case, the Vancouver Canucks — I think you see what it costs, don’t you? And if you’re gonna see what it costs and if you’re fine with it, then I think you have the obligation to be as thorough with your interviews as possible.
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Now, whether this means the Canucks are trading up to second overall or not remains to be seen, and after using a phone-a-friend, we’d advise not holding your breath on that.
“Yes, just in case you trade up,” an anonymous league executive told CanucksArmy when asked if it’s normal for a team drafting in the middle of the first round to interview a second overall pick. “You usually do quick meetings with the top 20 or so and then some guys you think will be in the mix around the time of your second or third selection.
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“Meeting with a number two projection doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trading for that pick. It certainly could be that! But it could also be just normal due diligence.”
Now, the Devils have been linked to Canucks forward J.T. Miller in the past, and as Marek mentioned, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald has reportedly made a list of players and assets around the league that his club would be willing to move the second overall pick for.
If the Canucks are on that list at all, you have to assume Miller’s name is there.
That being said, it’s likely wise if you don’t get your hopes up that the 6’4 Slafkovsky will be donning a Canucks uniform any time soon.