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.
Colorado defeats runner-up Tampa Bay
|Gabriel Landeskog||2011||#2||Alexander Killorn||2007||#77|
|Nathan MacKinnon||2013||#1||Steven Stamkos||2008||#1|
|Mikko Rantanen||2015||#10||Victor Hedman||2009||#2|
|Cale Makar||2017||#4||Nikita Kucherov||2011||#58|
|Martin Kaut||2018||#16||Ondrej Palat||2011||#208|
|Bowen Byram||2019||#4||Andrei Vasilevskiy||2012||#19|
|Alex Newhook||2019||#16||Brayden Point||2014||#79|
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.
Tampa Bay defeats runner-up Montreal
|Alexander Killorn||2007||#77||Carey Price||2005||#5|
|Steven Stamkos||2008||#1||Brendan Gallagher||2010||#147|
|Victor Hedman||2009||#2||Artturi Lehkonen||2013||#55|
|Nikita Kucherov||2011||#58||Jake Evans||2014||#207|
|Ondrej Palat||2011||#208||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||2018||#3|
|Andrei Vasilevskiy||2012||#19||Alexander Romanov||2018||#38|
|Brayden Point||2014||#79||Cole Caufield||2019||#15|
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.
Tampa Bay defeats runner-up Dallas
|Alexander Killorn||2007||#77||Jamie Benn||2007||#129|
|Steven Stamkos||2008||#1||John Klingberg||2010||#131|
|Victor Hedman||2009||#2||Jamie Oleksiak||2011||#14|
|Nikita Kucherov||2011||#58||Radek Faksa||2012||#13|
|Ondrej Palat||2011||#208||Esa Lindell||2012||#74|
|Andrei Vasilevskiy||2012||#19||Jason Dickinson||2013||#29|
|Cedric Paquette||2012||#101||Denis Gurianov||2015||#12|
|Brayden Point||2014||#79||Roope Hintz||2015||#49|
|Anthony Cirelli||2015||#72||Miro Heiskanen||2017||#3|
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.
St. Louis defeats runner-up Boston
|David Perron||2007||#26||Patrice Bergeron||2003||#45|
|Alex Pietrangelo||2008||#4||David Krejci||2004||#63|
|Jake Allen||2008||#34||Brad Marchand||2006||#71|
|Jaden Schwartz||2010||#14||Matt Grzelcyk||2012||#85|
|Vladimir Tarasenko||2010||#16||David Pastrkak||2014||#25|
|Joel Edmundson||2011||#46||Danton Heinen||2014||#116|
|Jordan Binnington||2011||#88||Jake DeBrusk||2015||#14|
|Colton Parayko||2012||#86||Brandon Carlo||2015||#37|
|Robby Fabbri||2014||#21||Charlie McAvoy||2016||#14|
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.
Washington defeats runner-up Las Vegas
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?
Here is the draft selection on the current Canadiens, trades included:
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.