By JD Lagrange – Okay, it’s not a rumour. But we decided to include this in the rumour mill regardless as we’re going on conjunctures and possibilities, coming from a NHL insider. So bear with me here. I know, I know, some people are getting hot under the collar hearing people talk about the possibility of the Canadiens trading the first overall pick at the upcoming Draft. Let’s get something clear: the odds of that happening are close to none. Happy? But it doesn’t mean that we can’t toy around the idea as to what it would take. And here, we’re going on what an insider said… So respect each other and their opinions, please.
Hughes will listen
In spite of what you think should or should not happen, or at least be entertained, Canadiens’ GM Kent Hughes will not hang up the phone if it rings and another GM wants to talk about the first overall pick. He would not be doing his job if he did and he acknowledged that himself in his post-draft lottery media interviews.
“You’re always better off listening to what people say. At the moment, I can’t tell you that it’s not something we would entertain,” said Hughes about the possibility of trading the 1st overall pick. “If we get calls for the pick we’ll listen, but it’s not in our plans to trade this pick.”
Remember that Shane Wright is NOT a generational talent like Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, or even Connor Bedard in a year from now. In fact, while most draft expert have them going number one, the gap between him and the next three or four prospects isn’t big. Some Habs’ fans seem to think that because he’s the highest ranked player, that he’s a centre, and that some say that his ceiling is comparable to Patrice Bergeron, he’s a sure thing. We shouldn’t have to remind anyone that not all first overall players pan out. It’s not unusual to have players selected later outperform the first overall pick.
The jury is still out between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin… 12 years later! If the 2011 Draft was to be redone, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, also a center, would not go first overall. In fact, no fewer than five players selected after him have more career points than him. Don’t think for a second that Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak wouldn’t be selected before number one pick Aaron Ekblad! Nico Hishier is a good player but don’t think for a second that the Devils wouldn’t pick Cale Makar instead, who was selected number four. And we’re not even talking about Doug Wickenheiser, Alexander Daigle and Nail Yakupov here.
Jeff Marek, as you know, has a podcast with Elliotte Friedman, called 32-Thoughts the podcast. He came up with a scenario that makes you think. At least, it will make people who don’t see Wright as a generational talent, think.
“If you’re the Montreal Canadiens, and I know you’re hosting the draft. If the Arizona Coyotes come to you and say ‘We will give you our No. 3 overall pick and our first-rounder next season in exchange for the 2022 first overall pick,’ what do you say?” asked Jeff Marek.
Such trade would give the Canadiens the Coyotes’ first round pick for next season, basically giving them a shot at Connor Bedard and Matvei Mitchkov. Kent Hughes would be crazy not to want to accept such an offer.
Now Friedman shut this down in a hurry, claiming that the Coyotes would never make such an offer. He’s probably right. But when we’re talking about Hughes listening to offers, this is what it’s all about… whether it displeases and even offends some people.
With the Draft in Montreal, it’s even more unlikely that the Canadiens would trade that first overall pick. It’s a fairytale scenario, with a packed Bell Centre and the anticipation of the home crowd. But the Canadiens are not in the business to entertain NHL Draft crowds, even their own fans. They’re in the business of getting the best player(s), or the best deal available. If it was Connor Bedard, it wouldn’t be on the table. But we’re not talking Bedard caliber here. So keep an open mind folks, as Hughes will, rest assured.