By Bob Trask – Over the past few years Canadiens fans had become familiar with Marc Bergevin’s and Trevor Timmins’ draft tendencies. The most obvious of these was the reluctance to trade up in the draft. It was rarely done. In the later years, the Habs also seemed to acquire a disproportionate number of defenseman and they were consistent in adding a goaltender in the later rounds. Every move was cloaked in secrecy.
This year there is a new sheriff in town and Habs fans are hanging on every word, trying to determine what course of action he will pursue. The first obvious difference in approaches is transparency. Kent Hughes is not afraid to tell the world what he wants to do. That brings us to the second difference. The Montreal GM has let it be known that he would like to move up in the draft – something, as we mentioned, that Bergevin was unlikely to do.
Marc Bergevin made many bold moves during his tenure as the Montreal GM and a lot of them were very successful. Very few of those bold moves, however, were made at the draft table. He did tinker a bit in the mid to later rounds but not much happened in the earlier rounds. This draft will give us a better idea of whether Kent Hughes will use a different approach. He has an advantage in that Bergevin left him with a lot of ammunition to work with.
Yesterday’s press conference yielded very little with regard to what the Canadiens value most as traits in a player. The word “character” came up but it is word that every single GM using when describing what he is looking for in a player.
Looking back on previous comments, however, might give us some clues. Hughes and Jeff Gorton have both indicated that they want an up-tempo team that lifts fans out of their seats. That would seem to indicate a premium on skating ability, puck handling and shooting over the more physical aspect of the game. Maybe that means a higher risk/higher reward player is taken over a “safe” pick.
The creation of an analytics department and the hiring of pro scouting service, Team 33 will ensure that Hughes has a mountain of information to work with. How that plays out with his drafting tendencies remains to be seen.
Bit by bit we are becoming more familiar with the manner in which Kent Hughes operates and each revelation has been refreshing. By the time our heads hit our pillows on Friday night we will have a clearer idea of how he hopes to use the amateur draft to build a hockey team.
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