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Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes
Photo credit: TSN

The Next Superstar in Montreal: Things Have Become Clearer Ahead of the Draft and We May Already Know the Identity of the New Face of the Franchise

Published March 12, 2024 at 8:12 PM
BY AARON
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With only 18 games left in the Montreal Canadiens' season, fans are already turning their attention to this summer's draft. After all, barring a miracle, the chances of Martin St-Louis's men making it to the spring dance are virtually non-existent.

Moreover, given that the Canadiens find themselves in 7th place (in reverse order), there is no doubt that Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton will be able, for the third consecutive year, to land a prospect with very promising potential.

When looking at the current standings, it's hard to see how the Habs could move up a spot as the Pittsburgh Penguins have six more points than the Montreal team, who also have one more game to play. However, looking down the standings, it becomes really interesting.

Indeed, although the Canadiens are ahead of the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, and Columbus Blue Jackets, only four points separate the four teams. So, it wouldn't be surprising if the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge could potentially secure the fourth lottery ticket if the team continues its downward spiral.


Personally, knowing that the team has nothing to gain by finishing in 23rd or 24th place, I prefer that the Canadiens continue to lose to ensure they can draft a quality forward next June. Regarding the draft, expert Corey Pronman published a very interesting text on "The Athletic" this morning, unveiling his prospect ranking for the 2024 draft class.

Here is Corey Pronman's ranking for the upcoming draft:

1. Macklin Celebrini (52 points in 34 NCAA games - Center)
2. Anton Silayev (11 points in 63 KHL games - Left Defender)
3. Sam Dickinson (66 points in 63 OHL games - Left Defender)
4. Carter Yakemchuk (63 points in 61 WHL games - Right Defender)
5. Artyom Levshunov (32 points in 34 NCAA games - Right Defender)
6. Berkly Catton (105 points in 62 WHL games - Center)
7. Ivan Demidov (60 points in 30 MHL games - Right Wing)
8. Cayden Lindstrom (46 points in 32 WHL games - Center)
9. Zayne Parekh (87 points in 61 OHL games - Right Defender)
10. Zeev Buium (43 points in 34 NCAA games - Left Defender)
11. Konsta Helenius (36 points in 50 SM-liiga games - Center)
12. Adam Jiricek (1 point in 19 Czech league games - Right Defender)
13. Cole Eiserman (70 points in 43 NTDP games - Left Wing)
14. Igor Chernyshov (4 points in 34 KHL games - Left Wing)
15. Beckett Sennecke (59 points in 58 OHL games - Right Wing)
16. Tij Iginla (78 points in 59 WHL games - Center)
17. Michael Brandsegg-Nygard (18 points in 41 SWE games - Right Wing)
18. Liam Greentree (84 points in 54 OHL games - Right Wing)
19. Michael Hage (57 points in 45 USHL games - Center)
20. Trevor Connelly (59 points in 43 USHL games - Left Wing)

To the surprise of some observers, besides Macklin Celebrini who will undoubtedly be the first overall pick, four defenders are in his top-5. This situation could greatly help the Montreal management team who, according to Pronman's predictions, will have the opportunity to add a really talented forward to their roster.

Of course, many fans want the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge to land the best player available. However, considering the dire lack of forwards in the Montreal roster, I believe Kent Hughes must absolutely select the best forward available when it's their turn at the Bridgestone Arena.

Players like Ivan Demidov, Cayden Lindstrom, Cole Eiserman, and Berkly Catton could be available at the 7th pick. They would all be major additions to Martin St-Louis's top-6 and could potentially change the dynamic of the rebuilding process begun by the organization.

Ivan Demidov is a right winger with simply exceptional hands and vision, who also has a knack for finding the back of the net. Cayden Lindstrom is a big center at 6 feet 3 inches and 210 pounds with a blistering shot, as evidenced by his 27 goals in 32 games. Cole Eiserman is arguably the best scorer in the draft, on track to break the record set by Cole Caufield with the American development program. Finally, Berkly Catton is an impressive center with electrifying skating and vision. His 49 goals and 56 assists (105 points) in 62 WHL games show how much of a game changer he can be.

If you were in Kent Hughes's shoes, which forward would you draft?

My preference? Ivan Demidov.

POLL
March 12   |   186 answers
The Next Superstar in Montreal: Things Have Become Clearer Ahead of the Draft and We May Already Know the Identity of the New Face of the Franchise

Who would you like the Habs to take?

Ivan Demidov3016.1 %
Cayden Lindstrom10657 %
Berkly Catton1910.2 %
Cole Eiseman3116.7 %
LIST OF POLL
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