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Need For Tanking – Debunked!

By JD Lagrange – Sometimes, we as human being have a pre-conceived idea about something and we’re so sure that we don’t fact check because it’s too obvious in our mind. Further, sometimes what was true a while ago simple isn’t anymore, but we remain stuck with the concept that we’ve had in the past.

They are many who feel like the Montreal Canadiens absolutely must tank and get at least one more high pick in order to compete and become a Stanley Cup contender. Failing to do so this season, according to them, would be returning to mediocrity and they are cemented in that mindset.

So I’ve decided to do some research and see the trend for the past five years of Stanley Cup finalists. I looked at their own picks, which helps determine where they selected (as few get traded) and which ones actually went to the Stanley Cup finals, and how long it took them to do so. Without further ado, here are my findings.

2021-2022

Colorado defeats runner-up Tampa Bay

NAMEYEAROVERALLNAMEYEAROVERALL
Gabriel Landeskog2011#2Alexander Killorn2007#77
Nathan MacKinnon2013#1Steven Stamkos2008#1
Mikko Rantanen2015#10Victor Hedman2009#2
Cale Makar2017#4Nikita Kucherov2011#58
Martin Kaut2018#16Ondrej Palat2011#208
Bowen Byram2019#4Andrei Vasilevskiy2012#19
Alex Newhook2019#16Brayden Point2014#79
Anthony Cirelli2015#72
Mathieu Joseph2015#120
Boris Katchouk2016#44
Taylor Raddysh2016#58
Ross Colton2016#118
Cal Foote2017#14
4TOP-52

ANALYSIS: The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup. They “tanked” 11 years prior to winning the Cup, drafting Gabriel Landeskog at number two, then MacKinnon first overall the following year. The following season (2013-14), they won their division. They suffered a couple of hiccups a couple of years apart after that. Let’s touch on the Lightning below.

2020-2021

Tampa Bay defeats runner-up Montreal

NAMEYEAROVERALLNAMEYEAROVERALL
Alexander Killorn2007#77Carey Price2005#5
Steven Stamkos2008#1Brendan Gallagher2010#147
Victor Hedman2009#2Artturi Lehkonen2013#55
Nikita Kucherov2011#58Jake Evans2014#207
Ondrej Palat2011#208Jesperi Kotkaniemi2018#3
Andrei Vasilevskiy2012#19Alexander Romanov2018#38
Brayden Point2014#79Cole Caufield2019#15
Anthony Cirelli2015#72
Mathieu Joseph2015#120
Ross Colton2016#118
2TOP-52

ANALYSIS: They only had two top-5 picks and it took Stamkos 13 long years, and Hedman 12 before winning the Cup. They came nowhere close to a top-5 pick since then. The Canadiens selected Price at number five 16 years prior to reaching the finals for the first time since then.

2019-2020

Tampa Bay defeats runner-up Dallas

NAMEYEAROVERALLNAMEYEAROVERALL
Alexander Killorn2007#77Jamie Benn2007#129
Steven Stamkos2008#1John Klingberg2010#131
Victor Hedman2009#2Jamie Oleksiak2011#14
Nikita Kucherov2011#58Radek Faksa2012#13
Ondrej Palat2011#208Esa Lindell2012#74
Andrei Vasilevskiy2012#19Jason Dickinson2013#29
Cedric Paquette2012#101Denis Gurianov2015#12
Brayden Point2014#79Roope Hintz2015#49
Anthony Cirelli2015#72Miro Heiskanen2017#3
2TOP-51

ANALYSIS: Again, only Stamkos and Hedman were top-5 picks. For the Stars, they got one top-5 pick two years earlier, selecting Heiskanen at number three, and were in the finals.

2018-2019

St. Louis defeats runner-up Boston

NAMEYEAROVERALLNAMEYEAROVERALL
David Perron2007#26Patrice Bergeron2003#45
Alex Pietrangelo2008#4David Krejci2004#63
Jake Allen2008#34Brad Marchand2006#71
Jaden Schwartz2010#14Matt Grzelcyk2012#85
Vladimir Tarasenko2010#16David Pastrkak2014#25
Joel Edmundson2011#46Danton Heinen2014#116
Jordan Binnington2011#88Jake DeBrusk2015#14
Colton Parayko2012#86Brandon Carlo2015#37
Robby Fabbri2014#21Charlie McAvoy2016#14
Ivan Barbashev2014#33
Sammy Blais2014#176
Vince Dunn2015#56
Robert Thomas2017#20
1TOP-50

ANALYSIS: It took Pietrangelo, a fourth overall pick, 11 years after being drafted before winning his first Stanley Cup. That was the only time St. Louis picked in the top-5. The Bruins’ best overall pick was in the middle of the pack at number 14, twice.

2017-2018

Washington defeats runner-up Las Vegas

NAMEYEAROVERALLNAMEYEAROVERALL
Alex Ovechkin2004#1
Nicklas Backstrom2006#4
John Carlson2008#27
Braden Holtby2008#93
Dmitri Orlov2009#55
Evgeny Kuznetsov2010#26
Philipp Grubauer2010#112
Tom Wilson2012#16
Chandler Stephenson2012#77
Christian Djoos2012#195
Andre Burakovsky2013#23
Jakub Vrana2014#13
2TOP-50

ANALYSIS: It took 14 years to Ovechkin and 12 to Backstrom to reach the Stanley Cup finals. They never came close to a top-5 after them. I don’t think I need to explain Vegas, right?

Current Canadiens

Here is the draft selection on the current Canadiens, trades included:

NAMEYEAROVERALLTEAM
Evgenii Dadonov200771FLA
Jake Allen200834STL
David Savard200994CBJ
Chris Wideman2009100OTT
Mike Hoffman2009130OTT
Brendan Gallagher2010147MTL
Joel Armia201116BUF
Joel Edmundson201146STL
Mike Matheson201223FLA
Josh Anderson201295CBJ
Jonathan Drouin20133TBL
Sean Monahan20136CGY
Christian Dvorak201458ARI
Jake Evans2014207MTL
Sam Montembeault201577FLA
Michael Pezzetta2016160MTL
Nick Suzuki201713VEG
Johnathan Kovacevic201774WIN
Jesse Ylönen201835MTL
Jordan Harris201871MTL
Kirby Dach20193CHI
Cole Caufield201915MTL
Kaiden Guhle202016MTL
Justin Barron202025COL
Juraj Slafkovsky20221MTL
Arber XhekajN/AN/AN/A
TOP-5: 3

Conclusion

People in favour of tanking keep bringing up Tampa (which we’ve debunked here), Pittsburgh, Chicago as examples to try to support their claim that a team MUST tank for several years in order to win a Stanley Cup. The NHL is not the same as it was before. Teams can turn things around in a hurry today, unlike the past trends.

Of course, I won’t come here telling you that adding another top-5 pick would hurt the Canadiens. But there’s a fine balance between instating a winning culture and tanking. Further, the clear conclusion here is that those claiming that the Canadiens absolutely MUST tank and get another top-5 pick are clearly out of touch with the latest trend in the NHL. Even those selected in the top-5 take years before reaching their goals, as proven above.

Dahlin, Svechnikov, Kotkaniemi, Tkachuk, Hischier, Patrick, Pettersson, Matthews, Laine, Dubois, Puljujarvi, McDavid, Eichel, Strome, Marner, Ekblad, Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bennett, Barkov, Jones, Yakupov, Murray, Galchenyuk, Reinhart, Rielly, Nugent-Hopkins, Huberdeau, Larsson, Hall, Seguin, Johansen… they were all top-5 picks in recent years and never have they raised the Stanley Cup over their head as winners. 

So let’s stop with the narrative. It would be nice if the Canadiens get another high pick. But to claim that it’s a MUST is a smoke screen at best. If our beloved Habs don’t select in the top-5 this year, it’s not the end of the world folks. They are on the right track regardless of the “tank nation” is falsely claiming.

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