The Montreal Canadiens locked up first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky and beefed up their depth with one-year contracts as NHL free agency opened Wednesday.
The Canadiens announced a three-year, entry-level contract with Slafkovsky, who they selected with the top pick at last week’s 2022 NHL draft at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The 18-year-old Slovak played in 38 games for TPS Turku in the Liiga in Finland last season, scoring five goals and adding five assists.
He helped Slovakia win the bronze medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics with seven goals in seven games. He took home the most valuable player award and was named to the tournament all-star team.
The Kosice native is first Slovakian-born player to be selected first overall..
Earlier, Montreal signed forwards Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Richard and defenceman Madison Bowey to one-year, two-way contracts.
Stephens had six assists in 27 games with Detroit in 2021-22. The native of Peterborough, Ont., was a second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2015 and has three goals and 10 assists in 72 games with the Lightning and Red Wings.
Bowey spent most of the 2021-22 season with the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks, where the 27-year-old had eight goals and 20 assists in 53 games. He also appeared in two games in the NHL with Vancouver.
The Winnipeg native has five goals and 35 assists in 158 career NHL games with Washington, Detroit, Chicago and Vancouver.
Richard, a 25-year-old centre, had 17 goals and 21 assists in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch and Milwaukee Admirals this past season.
The native of Trois-Rivieres, Que., has played two career NHL games with Nashville.
The Canadiens also announced before free agency opened the signing of forwards Alex Belzile, Joel Teasdale and Nate Schnarr to one-year, two-way contract extensions.