There was one rather important player missing from the Montreal Canadiens 2023 development camp roster: 2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky.
Slafkovsky, 19, is coming off a rather frustrating rookie season in the NHL, though you’d be hard-pressed to argue Slafkovsky was at fault for the inconsistency in his usage. There was simply not enough ice time to go around given the overabundance of veteran forwards in the lineup, which led to very few legitimate opportunities for Slafkovsky.
For the most part, he was used on the fourth line alongside teammates with limited talent.
And while many of the aspects of his rookie campaign were beyond his control, it was quite apparent that Slafkovsky could stand to improve some of his on-ice skills ahead of his sophomore year.
Rather than attending the development camp, Slafkovsky is currently practicing in Recany, a small town in central Czechia. He’s focused on improving his core strength as well as his breathing techniques with strength and conditioning coach Michal Bretenar.
One of the biggest shock factors for young players in the NHL is the elite level of conditioning veteran players tend to display. The lengthy NHL schedule is also very difficult to adjust to, usually taking several years before the body fully acclimatizes to the NHL.
Juraj Slafkovsky is currently training in Říčany in the Czech Republic with strength and conditioning coach Michal Bretenar who specializes in "changing the breathing rhythm and removing ineffective breathing stereotypes" using integrated physiological training (IFT). pic.twitter.com/BsSjsMGOzD
— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) July 2, 2023
As for the glasses Slafkovsky is wearing during his on-ice drills, they use strobe training to improve an athlete’s hand-eye coordination, balance, focus, and timing, which are aspects of his game that have significant room for growth.
“The world is moving forward in this direction and it’s necessary to try any new convenience,” said Slafkovsky to Isport. “If something like this helps you become a better player, you should take advantage of it.”
We’ll have to wait to see if the strobe training pays off for the Montreal Canadiens prospect, but it’s always encouraging to see young athletes attempt to improve their value by trying new approaches and delving into technological advances.