Shane Wright dined with the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL's pre-draft combine. Slafkovsk sizzled.
The two top-ranked prospects don't lack self-confidence.
Competitive. Always first. Wright told Canada's TSN earlier this week that he "deserved to be the No. 1 pick."
NHL Central Scouting ranks the 18-year-old centre from Burlington, Ontario, first among North American skaters. He had dinner with the Canadiens, who control the first pick.
Wright: "I was going to order and noted that the steak was $60 or so." "They said, 'Alright, have it.'" So I checked before.”
Top-ranked international skater Slafkovsk was unfazed.
Wright's sentiments were echoed by Slafkovsk. "I think differently."
Slafkovsk, from Slovakia, said, "I didn't have dinner, but I think the talk tasted better."
The Canadiens are hosting the NHL draught July 7-8 and aren't revealing which player they favour.
Wright, the Ontario Junior League star who has long been considered the favourite, and Slafkovsk, a forward who helped Slovakia earn a bronze medal at the Beijing Winter Games, are reducing the distance.
Don't count out Logan Cooley. Cooley is 5-foot-10 and 174 pounds. He led USA Hockey's Under-18 development squad in averaging 1.47 points per game by scoring 27 goals and 75 points in 51 games.
Dan Marr deemed Wright and Slafkovsk the two most NHL-ready prospects before mentioning Cooley.
The first three teams to pick could receive the top player. Marr said it's tight. "It depends on the team's drafting strategy and goals."New Jersey Devils second, Arizona, Seattle, Philadelphia.
6-feet, 191-pound Wright finished eighth in the OHL with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 games. He was the OHL and CHL rookie of the year in 2019-20 and the OHL's fifth player to play junior at 15.
He led his nation to a gold medal in 2021 by scoring a Hockey Canada Under-18 record nine goals in five games.
Wright has been compared to Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron and has "the potential to be a star in the NHL"
In the previous 13 months, Slafkovsky has represented Slovakia at the Olympics, two world championships, and Finland's Elite League.
Slafkovsk scored seven goals at the Olympics after failing to score at the 2021 worlds. Last month at the world championships in Finland, he had three goals and nine points.
Slafkovsk is a 6-foot-4, 218-pound stick-handling monster who can also set up teammates.
Slafkovsky stated his rise in production was due to confidence because he believed he could play hockey but hadn't shown it. "My Olympic confidence was high, so I needed to trust myself."
His confidence has grown to believe he has the upper hand.
"Last season, more men played junior than men. Slafkovsk stated it's better preparedness.