HabsTracks – June 1st, 2022

By JD LagrangeHabsTracks is a review, retracing the recent hot topics. This week, we’re looking at the NHL Draft, Kent Hughes’ most recent press conference, Martin St-Louis’ contract extension and a Carey Price update, amongst other things. Please feel free to comment and share with your friends.

Freshly announced this morning, Martin St-Louis has (finally) signed a three-year contract extension with the Canadiens, therefore removing the interim tag from his head coaching title. This should make a few players happy as many turned their season around since the coaching change back in February.

When asked if other teams had shown interest in his services, St-Louis had fun with the media: “My son’s bantam team, they were really interested in having me back.”

After Kent Hughes hinting that young players will likely go back and forth between Montreal and Laval, St-Louis sings a similar tune: “I don’t want to focus on winning in the short term and sacrifice the development of the young guys. If I develop them, a side effect will be long term winning.”

St-Louis said that he doesn’t intent on letting go any of his assistants, but that he doesn’t close the door to adding one more in the future. It seems like the current staff was unable to improve on special teams and perhaps, adding someone with those skills should be a determining factor in the hiring process.

Kent Hughes had a Zoom press conference on Tuesday, during the second day of the NHL Combine. The team took top prospect Shane Wright out for dinner the night before to get to know him better. During combine, teams only have about 15 minutes with each player and it’s not enough time to get to know a prospect. In fact, Hughes compared the process to speed-dating. “The dinner allows to elaborate on answers”, said Hughes.

Hughes insisted that the Canadiens have not made a final decision about who they will draft at number one on July 7th. Two comments in particular, stood out:

“We want to draft the best player for the future. Not the best player for next year.” ~ Kent Hughes

“We will draft the best player available whether he’s a defenseman, center or winger. We won’t draft by need.” ~ Kent Hughes replying to a trap question wanting to know if he’ll draft a center (Wright or Cooley).

Renowned prospect guru Corey Pronman of The Athletic shocked the hockey world when he released his final prospects’ rankings. He has Juraj Slafkovsky surpassing Shane Wright as the top prospect for this year’s NHL Draft. Of course, that doesn’t sit well with the adamant Wright supporters.

There was a rumour coming out of Russia claiming that the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers would not be drafting Russian players at the upcoming Draft. Hughes was questioned about this so-called report and denied it, stating that they even had an interview with a Russian prospect in the morning.

When asked by a reporter, Hughes said that he has no intention in signing Logan Mailloux this summer. He stated that he wants to continue monitoring him on and off the ice. It is important to note that because of COVID and injuries, Mailloux has only played a total of 31 games in the past two seasons between SK Lejon in Sweden, and London in the OHL.

Some people have read into this that the Canadiens have no intention in signing the controversial first round pick. The fact is that the 6-foot 3-inches, 212 lbs defenseman has not played enough hockey and he just turned 19 about six weeks ago. Also, let’s not forget that NHL teams cannot have more than 50 contracts so signing him now would take one contract away. If their plan is for him to play one more year in junior, why sign him now?

The NHL has announced the rankings all the way through number 28 for this year’s Draft. This is relevant as the Canadiens own the Calgary Flames’ first round pick, obtained in the trade that sent Tyler Toffoli to Calgary. It turns out that in addition to the very first pick, Montreal will also pick at number 26. As they will speak first in every round, the Habs also have the 33rd pick overall.

1.Montreal Canadiens
2.New Jersey Devils
3.Arizona Coyotes
4.Seattle Kraken
5.Philadelphia Flyers
6.Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago Blackhawks)
7.Ottawa Senators
8.Detroit Red Wings
9.Buffalo Sabres
10.Anaheim Ducks
11.San Jose Sharks
12.Columbus Blue Jackets
13.New York Islanders
14.Winnipeg Jets
15.Vancouver Canucks
16.Buffalo Sabres (from Vegas Golden Knights)
17.Nashville Predators
18.Dallas Stars
19.Los Angeles Kings
20.Washington Capitals
21.Pittsburgh Penguins
22.Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)
23.St. Louis Blues
24.Minnesota Wild
25.Toronto Maple Leafs
26.Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames)
27.Arizona Coyotes (from Carolina Hurricanes via Montreal Canadiens)
28.Buffalo Sabres (from Florida Panthers)
29.Conference final losing team with fewest points
30.Conference final losing team with most points
31.Stanley Cup Final losing team
32.Stanley Cup winner

According to Kent Hughes, Carey Price has seen a specialist in Pittsburgh at the end of the year but hasn’t seen anyone else since. The next step(s) is a matter of how well his knee reacts to different treatments and Hughes anticipates knowing more by the time free agency starts on July 13th at the latest.

The Canadiens’ GM is on record saying that he wants an insurance policy by adding more veteran depth to the goaltending position in case Price can’t start the season. We have dressed a list of candidates recently.

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