For the first time since January 15, Juraj Slafkovsky put on his skates and took to the ice.

He did this Monday at noon, on the practice ice in Brossard, when his teammates had already all left. He did it alone, far from the Bell Center reflectors, but he did it anyway, which is kind of a small victory for him.

Earlier, the 19-year-old forward was asked if he would be 100% fit when training camp opened in September. “110%!” “, he replied, to make it clear that he was going to be ready.

No, this first season among the greats will not have been the one he had planned, but Slafkovsky still believes that he learned things.

“Those 39 games are in my bag,” he replied. It’s not that big a number, 39 games, but I still learned a lot. I was trying to find my style of play before this injury, and during the summer I will continue to learn, although of course summer training is not a game situation. But I already have experience, I am no longer a beginner…”

For the Slovak, 2022-23 ended on a bad note on a January Sunday in New York’s Madison Square Garden with a left knee injury that had started in the previous match.

His first season in the NHL would go like this: 4 goals, 6 assists, for a total of 10 points. Not figures worthy of a first choice, perhaps, but figures which lead him to believe that the future will be better.

“It would be much better to be able to conclude the season and take part in the remaining games with the team, he added Monday in Brossard. I had to stop in the middle of the adventure. But I think it is possible to find the rhythm quickly. We had a plan for me, and we had to abandon it.

“I know what I need to work on in order to become a better player, I also know the type of player I am with my height. I just have to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. »

In the immediate future, Juraj Slafkovsky will be content to climb the steps one at a time. Above all, there is no question for him of skipping steps.

To this end, he will not put on the jersey of the Slovakia team at the next World Hockey Championships, which will begin on May 12 in Finland and Latvia.

“The last time I was on the ice was January 15th…there are so many good players from Slovakia who have played since then that it would be weird to join the roster and not have been able to play since January. Even after I get back to training on the ice, it’s going to take a little while, and I won’t be able to be the best version of myself. »

It is assumed that the management of the Canadian wishes to be able to see this version in September.