By Bob Trask – When Marc Bergevin took over as GM of the Montreal Canadiens the prospect cupboard was virtually empty. There was little quality or quantity in the pipeline. After a slow start, primarily due to lack of draft picks, Bergevin gradually built up the prospect pool culminating in the eleven draft picks the Canadiens made this year. Both the quality and quantity of players in the feeder system improved.
Our top 26 list is filled with the names of hopefuls even while leaving out names like Cayden Primeau, Jesse Ylönen and Gianni Fairbrother who all played well in Laval last year. Other players like Daniel Sobolev of the Windsor Spitfires didn’t make the top 26 list either but that doesn’t mean they aren’t prospects.
In other words, the cupboard is well stocked with names and the Canadiens no longer need to add quantity. The road to improvement is the one that gradually increases the quality of the prospects.
Social media is filled with ideas that advocate trading Jake Allen or Josh Anderson for a “B” prospect or a mid-round pick. When you look at the current situation of the Canadiens organization that course of action makes no sense.
There is a limit to the number of prospects an organization can sign or manage and the Canadiens are already close to that limit. Any talent acquired must have better potential than at least one or two of the names already in the prospect pool. If not, a trade for one of those players becomes an exercise in shuffling deck chairs and hoping for the best.
A more logical course of action would be trading a couple of lower ranked prospects for a higher ranked prospect or including a lower ranked prospect in a trade along with an NHL player for a higher ranked prospect or a higher round pick – 1st or 2nd round.
The Canadiens are at an inflection point where the shift goes from quantity to quality. We’ve already seen evidence of that with Montreal trading a couple of draft picks in the Kirby Dach deal. I expect to see more of those kinds of transactions going forward. Sweeteners could be added to deals with teams who are thin on prospects and/or draft picks.
The actions of Kent Hughes will give us a better idea of what to expect as he builds a team and organization designed for long term success.