The Montreal Canadiens needed a shootout to defeat the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. And if they want to continue the momentum, they’ll have to do it without first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky.
The Canadiens rookie received a match penalty in the game in Detroit after hitting Red Wings forward Matt Luff face-first into the boards. On Wednesday, the NHL suspended the top pick from July’s draft for the next two games.
Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde confirmed to reporters that Luff would miss the next 10-12 weeks due to the hit. “That’s the exact play we try to avoid, and that’s why,” Lalonde said. “A player got seriously injured.”
The 25-year-old Luff scored his first goal as a Red Wing on Sunday against his hometown New York Rangers. Lalonde called the hit “unfortunate” given Luff’s recent performances.
“He’s been great for us. You feel for him, because those guys on that bubble of being an everyday NHLer, he gets an extended look, he does really good in it,” the Red Wings coach said.
Slafkovsky made the Canadiens roster out of training camp. The Canadiens made him the highest-selected Slovakian player in NHL history in July.
The 18-year-old Canadiens rookie has three goals in 10 games thus far. As a result of this suspension, he will forfeit $10,270 of his salary.
The first game of Slafkovsky’s suspension came Wednesday night. The Canadiens defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Montreal’s 18-year-old rookie will miss Saturday’s clash with the Pittsburgh Penguins as well.
Slafkovsky will return to the Canadiens lineup on Tuesday against the surging New Jersey Devils. Detroit and Montreal next meet on January 26 in Montreal.