The draft is one of the most important events for any team, even if they just finished winning the Stanley Cup. This is where teams get a chance to find young up and coming talents in order to either build, retool or fill holes on their roster down the line. Even the best teams invest in this.
When it comes to Montreal, they don’t have the best record for drafting in previous years, but over the last couple of years, they have made quality picks and managed to fill up the bare cupboards the previous regimes had managed to empty. Since 2017, Marc Bergevin and his group of scouts and developers have managed to build, at worst, a top 10 prospect group where some have them in their top five. I tend to agree with the ladder.
Even with a top five prospect pool, Montreal should not stop adding high upside prospects and the upcoming NHL Entry Draft boasts a deep top 10 where they should be slotted to select. There is no indication yet of what will happen with the draft lottery or playoff season, but if I had the power to decide where Montreal should end up, I’d have them outside the playoffs into a guaranteed top 10 slot. I don’t see how a playoff spot would help them more than some of the the players available at the top of the draft.
If we keep things as is and slot them at the eighth overall selection where they are right now standings wise, they should have a plethora of quality options who would easily help them down the line, regardless of who’s name is called. Here are some of them.
Lucas Raymond: Raymond shouldn’t fall this far in my opinion, but crazier things have happened. If Montreal manages to land this offensive force, then their duo of Caufield/Raymond at wing should be a nightmare for oppositions in the future.
Alexander Holtz: Holtz is a relatively polarizing player with great pure goal scoring abilities. He is an above-average puck mover who plays a north-south game, but also drags some below average defensive play.
Marco Rossi: Rossi is a smallish gifted playmaker who is always in danger areas and a threat on the ice at any given moment. He is among the best players in the draft. While one of the smaller players, he does not shy away from the boards and protects the puck very well.
Jake Sanderson: Sanderson is a complete defensemen who shows no flash, but is effective and never out of position. He’s also a good skater and is effective when transitioning the puck. His edge work is fantastic for a player of his size and is rarely out of position. He’s also a great stick checker.
Other options: Cole Perfetti, Jack Quinn, Seth Jarvis
The Canadiens only own one first-round pick, therefore, the next time they are slotted to select is in round two where they hold three picks at 39, 40 and 61. The 40th pick belonged to Chicago, but was sent to Montreal in a deal that sent Andrew Shaw to Chicago in last year’s offseason. The 61st pick was acquired when they traded Marco Scandella to St. Louis right before the trade deadline. Here are some names who could be good picks for Montreal.
Brendan Brisson: The son of NHL agent Pat Brisson, Brendan is dual-threat center who was one of the better players in the USHL. He was one of the deadliest players on the Chicago Steel power play and contributed to the team’s strong play as the Steel only lost eight times in 49 games and were by far the best team in the league.
Thomas Bordeleau: Thomas is a very smooth skater with good puck moving abilities and has a wide range of tools that could all translate to the NHL one day. He’s committed to the University of Michigan where he can continue to play his skilled game and refine some of his raw abilities. He projects to be a multi-dimensional forward.
Jacob Perreault: Perreault is one of the better scorers in the draft and has a knack for finding shooting lanes. He owns one of the better releases and has the stats to back it up. He’s always a threat on the ice and if he’s given just a bit of room, he will find the back of the net.
He was sitting at 39 goals before the quarantine hit which stopped him from surpassing the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his junior career. He should get there with the Sting come next season.
Justin Barron: Blood clots slowed down his progression and interfered with his development last year, but Justin Barron has a wide range of abilities and skills that often give him an edge on the ice. The 6’2 defensemen from Halifax is a gifted puck mover with good offensive instincts that should be attractive for many teams.
Other options: Lukas Reichel. Lukas Cormier, Jean-Luc Foudy
What the Canadiens need to do is come out of the NHL Entry Draft, whenever it happens, with high upside players at positions of both importance and positions of need. This draft is deep at forward and especially at the winger position which bodes well for a team that needs depth there. They should also look to strike home runs and take a chance on a high risk/high reward type player because the organization lacks game changers. They have done well as of late and I expect them to do the same this year.