Chasing the Draft – January 27th Quick Update

By Bob Trask – With the NHL trade deadline only 36 days away a quick look at my initial draft order projections indicates that Montreal is in the #7 overall spot with their own pick and the #13 overall spot with Florida’s pick. The final order of draft, even if the clubs remained where they currently are, is still determined by the draft lottery. Two other major factors will influence how the Canadiens finish the season.

Cole Caufield’s season ending injury will have a big impact on an already anemic offense. The Habs are already the 4th worst team in xGF and subtracting a player who was on pace to score in excess of 40 goals could see them sink even further in the offensive rankings.

The trade deadline could also have a big impact. There is a chance that one veteran defenseman and two forwards could be plying their trade elsewhere in March and beyond. Teams will be looking to add productive players or highly desirable role players and if Montreal trades two or three of them it feels like the team would be weakened for the remainder of this year’s schedule.

The Habs also have the second toughest remaining schedule with only Buffalo facing stiffer competition for the remainder of the year.

One may be tempted to come to the conclusion that the Canadiens won’t put up points at the same pace as they did in the first half of the season. But other teams could similarly weaken their rosters in an effort to grab a high draft pick. When all is said and done, Montreal will have to stumble very badly to finish in the bottom 5. Anaheim, Arizona, Chicago and Columbus all look very weak. San Jose could climb in the standings if they could get some goaltending but the Vancouver situation is a mess and it remains to be seen if new coach Rick Tocchet can turn it around.

When it comes to Florida’s pick, it look less and less like it will be a top 10 choice. However, the Panthers are in a dog fight to make the playoffs and currently sit out of a wildcard spot. If they do miss the playoffs, the worst the Canadiens could do would be a #16 pick with a chance it could be better than that.

While there is always a chance in a lottery, Montreal is projected be choosing around #7 and #13.

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