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Habs GM: Slafkovsky's preseason play has been 'a little underwhelming'

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Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes wants to see more out of 2022 first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky.

"I thought his two exhibition games were a little underwhelming for him, but the two rookie games in Buffalo, he was great," Hughes said on Thursday's "Ray and Dregs Podcast."

"The two scrimmages here with our team, I think he led all our players in scoring chances by a pretty decent margin. So he's been very good in parts, there's obviously some inconsistency on how that translates into exhibition games."

Slafkovsky has failed to record a point in two preseason games. In 26:31 of ice time at five-on-five with the towering Slovak on the ice, the Canadiens have been outscored 1-0 and own a 37.1% expected goals share, per Natural Stat Trick.

Hughes said it's no guarantee Slafkovsky will make the Habs out of camp.

"We've got to do what's right for him," Hughes said. "If we do what we said when we drafted him - we weren't looking for the best 18-year-old, we were looking for the best NHL player down the road - and I don't think we do that without making the best decision for him. Whether it's the popular decision or not, we're going to do what we believe is right."

Slafkovsky will likely end up in the AHL rather than head back overseas if he fails to crack the opening night lineup. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound winger spent last season in Finland's top professional league, producing five goals and five assists in 31 contests.

Montreal has five preseason games remaining before opening the 2022-23 campaign on Oct. 12 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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