Juraj Slafkovsky's rookie season appears to be over after the Montreal Canadiens announced the number one overall pick in the 2022 draft will miss three months due to a lower-body injury sustained in Sunday's game at the New York Rangers.
The 18-year-old Slovakian forward has four goals and six assists in 39 games this season for the Canadiens, who are in 15th place in the 16-team Eastern Conference and are unlikely to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Prior to getting injured, Slafkovsky was mired in a 15-game point drought and had not scored a goal in 21 straight contests.
"We believe his development will happen in stages," Montreal general manager Kent Hughes said on Wednesday. "It's not, 'hey, we've got 10 things [for you to do]; go figure them out'.
"Because I think when you do that, [the player] is on the ice thinking and not reacting. And I think sometimes this year we've seen him think on the ice and other times we've seen him react.
"But we're not worried about the production side of it. We're really worried about seeing the areas that we want him to improve on.
"Do we see progress in those areas? Because we know, or we certainly believe, that long term, if he makes [certain] changes to his game, it's going to allow him to adapt to the North American style and be the most successful player he can be.
"He's going to be a different style hockey player than another guy."