Chasing the Draft – Mid-season Edition

By Bob Trask – The NHL schedule has reached its approximate mid-way point for the 2022-23 season and it’s good time to check the progress of various teams as it relates to the draft.

Throughout this project, I have constantly tinkered with how I arrive at my rankings and they now include overall record, recent performance, actual goal differential, expected goal differential, goaltending save percentage and strength of remaining schedule.

One stat that I have not used in my calculations but maybe should is high danger shots against. As per Money Puck, the Canadiens have given up 17% more high danger shots against than the next closest team. It is no wonder that Martin St-Louis stated that the team needs to play more responsible defensively. It’s probably a contributing factor in why the Canadiens have the second worst save percentage in the league.

As a corollary to that, the Canadiens have the third worst high danger shots for among the 32 NHL teams. These kinds of stats are not the recipe for success on the ice but may pave the way for a high draft pick.

Using the team’s first half performance to predict the second half of the season has some major flaws. The biggest of these is that the roster is going to change. If not soon then at least before the trade deadline at the latest. Some teams will purposely try to weaken themselves in the short term in order to build for the long term while for others, it will be the opposite. So take these projections with a huge grain of salt.

Based on my projected draft order and because they hold two top ten picks in that draft order, the Canadiens have a better than 13% chance of winning the top pick and a better than 14% of winning the second overall pick in the draft lottery.

Joel Armia

After a busy weekend of play, I now have Montreal ranked #5 in the preliminary draft order and Florida ranked #9. Montreal has the toughest remaining schedule according to Tankathon while the Panthers have the fifth toughest. That puts the Canadiens in a position of having at least one high draft pick in the first round… and maybe even two.

The last couple of games have also seen some interesting developments. Players like Joel Armia, Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Drouin seem to have flickered to life. Does that up their trade value or does it result in Montreal climbing up in the standings, impacting their draft chances in a negative way. General manager Kent Hughes has been walking this fine line all season and I expect it to continue in the hope that he can maximize the trade potential of one or two veterans

Given the Canadiens ongoing search for top two centers (will Kirby Dach ever fill that role?) there seems to be good chance the team will use its first pick to draft a center. Names floating around in the top ten include centers Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Brayden Yager, Dalibor Dvorsky, Calum Ritchie, Will Smith and, of course… Connor Bedard.

As the second half of the season unfolds we can keep an eye on the standings and watch for any pre-deadline trades that could impact the Canadiens draft order as well as the number of picks they could hold in their hands on draft day. Canadiens’ fans should expect a lot movement over the next two months.

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4 thoughts on “Chasing the Draft – Mid-season Edition

  1. So, what do you think of Montreal icing 5 rooks on D core to me this is massive mistake and the Tampa game showed exactly why it was MEN vs boys

    I get injuries but rushing these kids in too soon could be counter intuitive and snake bite them.

    Also, where do you see Josh Anderson ending up, I see Calgary and Vancouver ideal fits. Canucks lack tremendous grit and sandpaper. Anderson would slide in nicely with Kadri on the 2nd line for the flames.


    1. Hi Alex,
      Dressing 4-5 rookie defensemen is far from ideal. It’s not best for the goalies, for the team or for the young players themselves. In my humble opinion, rookie defensemen develop better (and quicker) when paired with a quality veteran by their side, as we’ve seen with Guhle playing with Savard. Weber’s injury and Petry demanding a trade really screwed up Bergevin, then Hughes and the Canadiens. The loss of Price is also much bigger than we want to believe too. Not only for his goaltending abilities (he would cover many rookie mistakes), but with his puck-handling. That would have helped the rookies immensely.

      As for Anderson, I do not believe that he will be traded. Yes, many teams would be interested but there’s a reason for that: guys like him don’t come around often. When a team has one, they don’t trade them. Columbus traded him because of his shoulder injury and they thought they were getting the 72-points Domi. Instead, they got the Domi from Arizona, turning into another steal by Bergevin.

      Of course, this is just one man’s opinion. πŸ™‚

      1. Interesting the Reason I see Anderson being traded is he carries 5.5 cap for another 3 years.

        I see Price is done don’t think he will be coming back and yes he made up for a lot of their mistakes much like Markstrom did for the Canucks getting shell shocked every night same with Demko. When teams lack offensive skill and talent goalies make them look better than what they are.

        I also see that Juraj should be sent down to Laval sooner than later, so it doesn’t hinder his development.

        Thoughts πŸ’­

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