An announcement involving Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield is causing a stir and raising serious questions

Elias Edmonson
January 21, 2024  (1:40 PM)

Photo of Cole Caufield, Suzuki and Slafkovsky celebrating a goal
Photo credit: Tsn

As usual, following the World Junior Championships, the excellent Corey Pronman from The Athletic updated his evaluations of the best players from NHL organizations aged 22 or under. This resulted in a ranking of 169 young players who will have a great career in the NHL.

Pronman thus ranked the young players, who had to be under 22 years old as of January 1, 2024, in eight tiers. It's no surprise that Connor Bedard is found in the first tier, alone in his generational player category.
The top 5 are as follows:
2 - Jack Hughes
3 - Tim Stützle
4 - Adam Fantilli
5 - Leo Carlsson
Twelve players from the Canadiens are in this ranking, none in the top 16, so in the fourth level or lower:
20 - Juraj Slafkovsky
25 - Cole Caufield
47 - David Reinbacher
49 - Kirby Dach
82 - Kaiden Guhle
88 - Lane Hutson
91 - Alex Newhook
115 - Justin Barron
122 - Joshua Roy
141 - Owen Beck
148 - Logan Mailloux
165 - Sean Farrell
Several things are striking about this ranking, especially regarding the CH. Let's try to see the surprises and what's wrong with all this.

Juraj Slafkovsky over Cole Caufield?

First, Pronman seems, for now, to favor Slaf over Caufield. The recent performances of the first overall pick of 2022 and the lack of success of Caufield seem to have played a part. But, as mentioned earlier, this ranking aims to look at the future of the players, not to rank them according to who would help their team win a game tomorrow. This could therefore change in the coming years.
The biggest surprise, in my opinion, is not at the level of Slafkovsky and Caufield but rather regarding Kaiden Guhle. In addition to being 35 ranks behind Reinbacher, the journalist ranks him 82nd. This is behind Jake Sanderson (18th), Jamie Drysdale (48th), Shakir Mukhamadullin (81st) to name a few. Seeing how the CH's defender is playing these days, it makes you wonder what more he should do to climb the rankings...
If we look further into Pronman's ranking, we can also question the placement of Logan Mailloux compared to that of Justin Barron. Is it really realistic? Only the future will tell us.
Interestingly, no goalie is positioned before the 56th rank while Jesper Wallstedt of the Minnesota Wild occupies this rank. He is followed by Yaroslav Askarov (57th) and Spencer Knight (80th) in terms of goalies.
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An announcement involving Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield is causing a stir and raising serious questions

Which player is currently the best, in your opinion?

Slafkovsky24230.1 %
Caufield56269.9 %
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