After trading away two of their best scoring wingers and not doing much to replace them, at least at that time, the Montreal Canadiens depth chart for elite scoring wingers isn’t as deep as it was. The lack of development of prospects and the scarcity of picks prior to 2017 has come to bare no results. However, after completing the last two drafts, it seems as if this upcoming one will add depth to a major need.
While Brendan Gallagher is coming off of a 30 goal season and has scored 5 goals in 8 games as well as the addition of blue chip prospect, Nick Suzuki has payed significant dividends (7 goals in 10 games for Owen Sound), however, the depth after those two players is not something to be proud about. I agree that Arturri Lehkonen has a great shot and could hit the 20 goal plateau and on a consistent basis but while prospects Joni Ikonen and Jesse Ylonen may prove to be good scorers, there are no pure shooters found within the organization.
Enter the 2019 NHL draft and there are some good options come mid 1st round. Everyone knows of Kakko, Dach and Lavoie who will likely be top 10 picks. At this point, it is early but chances are that the Canadiens will not pick that high unless they miss the playoffs and win the lottery. Forget about those options for now.
Here are some options that have high ceilings and pose the offensive abilities that the Habs need long term.
- Cole Caufield (RW) US NTDP :
Official records have Cole Caufield listed at 5′ 6.75″ and 155lbs by NHL Central Scouting but don’t just look at those two attributes when you’re scouting. Frequently compared to former Erie Otters forward and now Chicago Blackhawks forward Alex Debrincat for his play style, Caufield brings exactly what NHL teams are looking for in today’s modern hockey style: Speed and skill. The kid also posses a great shot which is part of his most dominant attributes.
In two years with US U17, Caufield scored 31 goals in 27 games and is now playing with the USNTDP along with consensus 1st overall pick Jack Hughes. What he lacks in size and strength should not be a problem since he’s only 17 and therefore still growing.
- Maxim Cajkovic (RW), Saint John (QMJHL) :
Maxim Cajkovic has the quickness and the skill of a modern offensive forward. He reminds me a lot of Bruins right-winger David Pastrnak. He’s a shoot first winger and is exactly what the Canadiens are searching.
He also has the hands to be able to maneuver in tight situations and going one on one vs. defensemen. He can beat you in so many ways whether it’s puck control, speed or skill. He possesses a wide range of tools. Officially listed at 5′ 10.75″ and 185lbs by NHL Central Scouting, he has the time to grow towards 6 foot tall and add about 10-15lbs.
- Arthur Kaliyev (RW), Hamilton (OHL):
Although his stock is rising as the year goes by, the NHL draft is so unpredictable that high ranked players drop out of the top 10 quite often. Listed at 6′ 1.25″ and 190lbs on the NHL Central scouting records, he has the size and skill to compete with top players in today’s game of hockey. Kaliyev is currently producing at a great pace in OHL with 13 goals, 10 assists and 23 points in 13 games.
Those are great numbers for a 17-year-old. I don’t really expect him to be available for selection, but crazier things have happened so it’s not entirely impossible. If Noah Dobson and Oliver Walhstrom can drop out of the top 10 then anything is possible come 2019.
As the 2018-2019 season has just recently begun, it is the very early and way too soon projections but this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have so many more tournaments and event coming up. The CIBC Canada-Russia series starts next month and we’re close to the World Juniors that will be in Vancouver/Victoria this year. We get to watch some good hockey with good players. This is where the fun begins!