With the Montreal Canadiens losing in the Stanley Cup final, we now know where they will be picking should they keep their picks. They rarely stay pat, but for the sake of this exercise, we will be using the picks they have from the moment the 2020-21 calendar year ended.
They currently own 11 picks in 2021 :
1st round – 30th overall
2nd round – 63rd & 64th overall
3rd round – 76th & 87th overall
4th round – 113th , 126th & 127th overall
5th round – 142nd overall
6th round – 191st overall
7th round – 223rd overall
30th Overall – Sasha Pastujov, LW – USNTDP (USHL)
Pastujov is the kind of player the Canadiens need to add to their pipeline. High-end skill, a strong net-driving ability and the confidence to extend plays offensively. He’s been a part of the U.S. development program since 2019 and has developed his skills well since he first laced them up.
Though he records more assists then goals, he possesses a very strong shot and owns a quick releases. He’s often found on the right half wall on the powerplay where he can be a one-timer option. On top of his shooting, his puck handling skills are good in tight and it allows him to control the puck in dangerous areas.
63rd overall – Colton Dach, LW – Saskatoon (WHL)
The younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach, Colton is a big, strong and skilled winger. Standing tall at six-foot-four and weighing 205 pounds, Dach is an imposing presence on the ice. He spends the majority of his shifts in and around the blue paint, which triggers him to his strength and power to make plays.
He was a point-per-game player for Saskatoon in the shortened season and saw him tie his goals from the previous season. In a 62-game pro-rated season, the amount of games he played last year, he would have scored 34 goals and recorded 62 points.
On top of his physical attributes, he has become one of the better shooters in this draft, a quality missing in the Canadiens pipeline. As the team graduated Cole Caufield from junior to pro, they could add another developing prospect who can score.
64th overall – William Stromgren, LW – MODO (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Stromgren is a product of the MODO development program and is a fascinating winger leading up to the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. His abilities with the puck are what distinguishes him from his peers. He’s quite the puck mover, puck handler on the ice and likes to challenge opposing defenders one-on-one, often coming out on top.
His neutral zone awareness and counter attack ability is what makes him a player to watch at all times because if he gets hold of the puck with open space ahead of him, he’s going the other way without looking back. Stromgren can play both a playmaking and sniper style of hockey and that keeps everyone on the ice alert since he can beat you in different ways.
76th overall – Aleksi Heimosalmi, RD – Assat U20 (SM-Sarja)
Aleksi is a calm, sound defenseman with a good first pass and offensive vision. He’s a quality puck mover and exits his own zone without any stress or hesitation. Even without an open lane, he can move around forecheckers and usually makes a play in the neutral zone. His puck handling is not elite, but his simple maneuvering gets him from point A to point B and lets the forwards do the rest.
At his core, he’s an offensive defenseman. Most of his plays come from the cycle and manning the point, but he does have the confidence to be a little more selfish and make high danger, individual plays in order to produce a scoring chance. On top of creating plays, he’s good at keeping pucks in the offensive zone and walking that blue line.
87th overall – Josh Doan, C – Chicago (USHL)
The son of former Coyotes captain Shane Doan, Josh is a strong 200-foot center with a knack for scoring. He possesses numerous abilities, including a strong defensive IQ, quick decision making and a quality shooting ability. Scoring centers are not in abundance in today’s NHL, but developing one can become that while being reasonable defensively is a big plus for any team.
Doan is successful due to the way he handles the puck. He’s not a dangler like Patrick Kane, nor does he stickhandle a dozen times a second. He’s efficient and calculated when he’s in possession of the puck and slows the game down to his pace. That allows his teammates to circle around and find open areas in the opponents defending and he attacks from there.
While he has all these tangible skills, he has a great hockey sense and that gives him the opportunity to see plays or read them a lot faster. He’s a student of the game, you hear that a lot in today’s hockey terminology, and with that, he gets better as the game goes on since he sees patterns and plays while learning players’ tendencies.
113th overall – Ty Gallagher, RD – U18 (USDP)
One of the U.S.’ top up-and-coming defenders is among the best value picks in the later rounds. Not overly big or fast, he excels with his instincts and that allows him to anticipate plays and be a step ahead of everyone else. A consequence of having good instincts is it allows him to use his stick to block lanes, check pucks and use it to intercept passes in his bubble. He’s very active with his stick and it allows him to conserve energy when playing at the other end.
His instincts serve him well when defending, but they also help him offensively. Some defenders would let the opposing forward retrieve loose pucks first and would then proceed to attack them but Gallagher almost always engages on loose puck battles to gain an advantage. It often works and then creates a counter attack where he confidently joins. He likes be a part of every play when he’s on the ice.
126th overall – Justin Janicke, LW – U18 (USDP)
Another product of the U.S. development program, Janicke is a tenacious winger who is always in motion. His aggressive playing style makes him an effective forechecker and a loose puck retriever. He’s involved in and around danger areas, often clearing the space of any danger.
He’s also a low maintenance player out there and knows what his assignments are on the ice. The puck almost seems to follow him as you often see him in the picture with it. Janicke is almost like a black hole when it comes to defending and targets players with his physicality, often separating them from the puck and allowing his teammates to retrieve it.
Outside of his defensive strengths, Janicke get involved offensively. He’s never a bystander on the ice, always moving around giving the puck handler some options to pass. His offensive abilities are underrated and possesses a balanced toolkit.
127th overall – Sean Tschigerl, LW – Calgary (WHL)
The pride of Whitecourt, Alberta is a speedy and skilled winger who can play anywhere in a team’s lineup. He does not dominate at anything, but does a lot of things well, a swiss-army for every team he’s played for.
In a 21 game season for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, Tschigerl was a point-per-game player, scoring 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points. A lot of them came off of rushes and net drives, which have become a main part of his game. This all comes with a six-foot, 189 pound frame.
Tschigerl reminds me of 2019 fifth-round pick Rhett Pitlick, who the Canadiens drafted in the later rounds and value him a lot, as he can play any style of hockey. Both players have the same skillset and are valuable pieces to a team.
142nd overall – Eetu Liukas, RW – TPS (Liiga)
The six-foot-two, 205 pound winger from Kaarina, Finland plays a heavy gamer. He’s been developing a strong, power game with TPS for many years now and comes in as a possible late round gem pick in this mock draft.
Liukas is a big body on the ice and he uses it well. He’s still young and developing both on the ice and in the gym, but he’s already left a mark playing against men at just 18-years-old. He’s physical, he’s tough and he’s got a good net driving ability. All these traits make him dangerous when driving the play up the ice and a threat to drive to the net.
Adding to his power game, he’s also not afraid to shoot the puck. He owns a good release and gets the puck on net with some weight to his shots. He can shoot off the rush, standing pat and everywhere in between.
191st overall – Simon Groch, D – HC Olomouc (Czech U20)
The six-foot-one Slovakian defenseman is among the more physically involved defensemen in the later rounds. His game revolves around his personal strength and he uses it in many different areas, but primarily on the back check, in and around the net and during the cycle. He’s not one to take lightly on the ice.
He has not developed his offensive game as much as he’d like, but he does make a quality first pass and does get involved as the extra man in rushes or cycles. He plays a similar game to Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson; hard to play against, solid defensively and a physical presence in front of the net when defending.
223rd overall – Charles-Alexis Legault, D – Lincoln (USHL)
Legault is a sleeper pick this late in the draft. This is where you look for players who have a raw, unrefined playing style and hope to mold them into a specific type of player. He is a player in full development who could grow into a good reactionary defenseman if he gets the right surrounding, teaching and training.
His raw skills allow him to show spurts and flashes of good anticipation, strong checking and quick decision making. His play on the ice is a little sporadic, but he’d clearly slate as an offensive defenseman on a team. He’s more of a shooter and distributor than a puck mover and rusher. He has a respectable transition game, but he’s most noticeable when he joins the rush.
Outside of his offensive flares, he likes to make plays with his body. He doesn’t shy away from hitting high level players. If you’re coming down his way, you’re open to getting checked by him.
The Canadiens have been adding depth at every position for years and have built a deep prospect pool. They need to start adding skill and a little more punch and it could start as early as their first pick. Those big swings should come this year while they currently own 11 selections in 2021. The high risk, high reward picks should be a little more common this year and should add to an already impressive prospect pool.