On April 28th at the completion of the draft lottery, Habs fans will learn where their team will be drafting in June. The Canadiens finished the season with the fourth lowest spot in the standings, giving them a 9.5 per cent chance of picking first overall and a 28.8 per cent chance to pick in the top three.
Montreal has a 26.1 per cent chance of picking fifth pick, a 34 per cent chance of choosing sixth and an 8.3 per cent chance of picking seventh, which is the lowest they can fall.
Here are my predictions for possible Canadiens draft scenarios. You will find draft rankings in parentheses from the fine folks at Hockey Prospects.
1. Win the lottery, draft first
This is a no-brainer. If the Canadiens win the lotto they will draft Rasmus Dahlin (1) and the fans will rejoice!
Dahlin is a 6-foot-2-inch, 183 pound Swedish defenceman, who has been compared favorably to iNicklas Lidstrom. Dahlin can skate, shoot, read the play and can play in both ends of the ice. Dahlin has been the clear number one pick all season. He could fit very nicely on the top pairing with Shea Weber.
2. Habs pick second or third
If Montreal is awarded the second spot in the NHL Entry Draft, they can choose between Filip Zadina (3), from the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) or Andrei Svechnikov (2) from the Barrie Colts (OHL). Either player is a viable option. Zadina is a 6-foot-1-inch, 196 pound winger while Svechnikov is 6-foot-2-inch, 186 pound winger. Both are highly skilled forwards and should be able to bring an offensive spark to the Habs lineup.
Choosing third means that the Canadiens get the leftover of the two wingers above. The two players are quite close in terms of talent. Drafting in this position shouldn’t be considered a loss.
It’s clear though that Montreal has an abundance of wingers particularly on the left side. That said, the Canadiens need to take the top player available.
Click the link to read what my colleague Matt Smith had to say about Andrei Svechnikov.
3. Canadiens pick fourth
Finishing fourth means that Dahlin, Zadina, and Svechnikov are already gone according to my crystal ball. While the Habs need scoring, they also need a good puck-moving defensemen. The next top defender in the draft is another Swede in Adam Boqvist (4). He’s smaller then Dahlin coming in at 5-foot-11-inches, 170 pounds, but his offensive upside more then makes up for it.
Boqvist is another speedy, skilled, puck-moving defencemen who could improve the Habs struggling blueline while providing some offensive punch. I believe that Boqvist has the potential to make an immediate impact if paired with Weber.
4. Montreal picks fifth or sixth
In this scenario, the Habs have a few choices but don’t expect to see them in opening night roster in October.
A nice fit would be winger Brady Tkachuk (5) from Boston University (NCAA). Brady is built a lot like his brother Matthew but plays with more of a chip on his shoulder. At 6-foot-3-inches, 196 pounds, Brady Tkachuk can skate hard and use his body. He isn’t afraid to go to the net.
Another option for this pick is Evan Bouchard (15) from the London Knights (OHL). It’s probably too early to take Bouchard here but I like the 6-foot-2-inches, 193 pound defender who plays a sound defensive game. Bouchard is a right-handed rearguard who is a natural leader and was the OHL’s defenseman of the month for February. He may not be as offensively skilled as Dahlin and Boqvist, but he can shoot the puck.
Click the link to read what my colleague Blain Potvin has to say about Brady Tkachuk.
5. Habs pick seventh
At this point, the draft could turn in a number of directions. Let’s look at some options for Bergevin as he tries to fix the two main problems, defense and centre.
Quinn Hughes (7) – D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
Noah Dobson (9) – D, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Oliver Wahlstrom (6) – C/RW, U.S National U18 Team (USDP)
Barrett Hayton (27) – C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Other draft day moves
The Canadiens have ten picks in this year’s draft, with four in the second round. Maybe Bergevin will find a general manager willing to trade a first round pick for a combination of later round picks.
Bergevin could use the draft to trade Habs captain Max Pacioretty, for a centre prospect and an early pick. This could give the general manager another opportunity to fill holes at centre or defence.
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