Piling Up On First Round Picks

By JD Lagrange – It is no secret that Canadiens’ General Manager Kent Hughes is trying to get his hands on at least one more first round pick for the upcoming NHL Draft. And who knows, maybe he is looking for another one for the 2024 Draft too? Already having their own first round pick and the Florida Panthers, getting a third might allow him to package a couple of them to move up into the Draft this summer or trade some to accelerate the rebuild, or re-whatever they call it.

Having said that, we must once again bring fans back to reality a bit, particularly those who feel like mid to late first round picks are worth established NHL players. History has clearly shown that they are not, for the most part. So you don’t empty your team to get those picks, particularly not players that you can use in the meantime.

1st round picks

So which current player(s) on the Canadiens could potentially fetch a first round pick, aside of course from the young core the team is building around? For that, we must look at the veteran players who can help a Stanley Cup playoffs’ team. For this exercise, I decided to not only provide names, but also the likeliness of them being traded. Of course, this is only one man’s opinion…

Legend of likeliness to be traded:

  • 🟢 Very likely
  • 🟠 Somewhat likely
  • 🔴 Very unlikely
🟢 Joel Edmundson

It is everywhere on the internet, via reputable NHL Insiders, teams are very interested in the 6-foot 5-inches, 221 lbs defenseman. He brings leadership, physicality and grit, defensive stability and he’s a fixture on the penalty kill while logging big minutes against top lines. When you think that less than a year ago, Ben Chiarot fetched a first round pick, Tyler Smilanic and a fourth round pick, it is not farfetched to expect at least a first for Edmundson. The fact that he has a year remaining at a team-friendly $3.5 million contract is a big plus for a team acquiring his services.

🟠 Sean Monahan

Monahan’s name would be in the green category if it weren’t for the fact that he fits in so well with the team and that the Canadiens are considering extending the veteran center. So everything hinges on the level of interest the two parties have in each other and that, we are not privy of. If I had to guess, I’d estimate the odds of Monahan being traded at 75% right now. A center for the second or third line, winning you faceoffs, defensively responsible, who can play on both special teams, a leader in the dressing room, will certainly fetch at least a first round pick. The Canadiens might have to keep some salary however.

🟠 Christian Dvorak

The only way the Canadiens will consider trading Dvorak at this point is if they decided to extend Monahan. Dvorak has one year remaining to his contract at an affordable cap hit of $4.45 million. For some teams, it can be a negative but for others, it brings cost certainty at a key position for another season. Don’t think that the Canadiens will trade both Monahan and Dvorak however. They will keep one of them.

🔴 Josh Anderson

We’ve explained it in length, Josh Anderson is very unlikely to be moved by the Canadiens. Kent Hughes is on record multiple times saying that he’s not wanting to trade him. Of course, the old “someone could make an offer the Canadiens can’t refuse” argument is possible. But a first round pick is not an overpayment for a 25-goals’ scorer with his size, physicality, speed and leadership qualities. It’s unlikely a team would come up with an offer that would make the Habs’ brass change their mind. But as we know, there are desperate GMs out there…

🔴 Jake Allen

Because of the high demand, the Canadiens could get a first round pick for Allen. But he signed his two-year contract extension with the current management. The Canadiens signed him knowing that there is no one close to being ready to step into the NHL and his extension doesn’t start until next season. Unless they get their hands on a young NHL-ready goaltender with potential to be a number one, don’t put too much money on Kent Hughes moving his veteran goaltender.

Other trades

Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman and Joel Armia are very unlikely to bring in a first round pick, but any (or all) of them could be gone by trade deadline. The first two are in the final year of their contract so they will be off the Canadiens’ books regardless by the end of this season at the latest. Hoffman and Armia have term left to their contracts, making things more difficult considering their low production.

For the second season in a row, with the Canadiens out of playoffs’ contention after a very cold December, it will be a very interesting time from now until the March 3rd NHL trade deadline as they unload salary and move pieces around to prepare for the summer months.

More reading…

Habs First Round Picks 1979-2022

By JD Lagrange – Last week, I presented you with the first round picks from 1979 to 2022 from teams in the playoffs, so picks from the 16 playoffs’ teams. I did that to show the value of a mid to late first round pick and it was an eye opener to say the least. This week, I decided to push the envelope by showing the Montreal Canadiens’ first round selections in the same time period. And just as a heads’ up, it’s not a pretty picture.

For this exercise, I have added the team’s General Manager at the time. The reason for doing this is that often times, they are the ones taking the credit or the fall for the first round selections. So you will see the likes of Irvin Grundman all the way to Kent Hughes on that list, and we will break down their work comparatively to their successors or predecessors.

So without further ado, here are all of the first round picks by your beloved Canadiens since 1979.

DRAFT
YEAR
GM# TEAMSNAME# OVERALLGPGAPTS
1979Irving Grundman21No 1st rd picks-----
1980Doug Wickenheiser1556111165276
1981Mark Hunter7628213171364
Gilbert Delorme185413192123
Jan Ingman190000
1982Alain Héroux190000
1983Serge SavardAlfie Turcotte17112172946
1984Petr Svoboda5102858341399
Shayne Corson81156273420693
1985José Charbonneau127191322
Tom Chorske16596115122237
1986Mark Pederson15169355085
1987Andrew Cassels171015204528732
1988Eric Charron20130279
1989Lindsay Vallis131000
1990Turner Stevenson1264475115190
199122Brent Bilodeau170000
199224David Wilkie20167102636
199326Saku Koivu211124255577832
1994Brad Brown1833022729
1995Terry Ryan88000
1996Réjean HouleMatt Higgins1857123
1997Jason Ward11336364581
199827Éric Chouinard1690111122
199928No 1st rd picks-----
2000André Savard30Ron Hainsey13113259252311
Marcel Hossa16237313061
2001Mike Komisarek7551146781
Alexander Perezhogin25128151934
2002Chris Higgins14711165168333
2003Bob GaineyAndrei Kostitsyn10398103119222
2004Kyle Chipchura184823173104
2005Carey Price57122.51 GAA.917 Sv%49 SO
2006David Fisher200000
2007Ryan McDonagh1280671272343
Max Pacioretty22850323319642
2008No 1st rd picks-----
2009Louis Leblanc18505510
2010Pierre GauthierJarred Tinordi2213041418
2011Nathan Beaulieu17435128597
2012Marc BergevinAlex Galchenyuk3647146208354
2013Michael McCarron25141101424
2014Nikita Scherbak2637628
2015Noah Juulsen26582810
201631Mikhail Sergachev938941158199
2017Ryan Poehling25111171229
2018Jesperi Kotkaniemi3264376097
2019Cole Caufield15104433073
2020Kaiden Guhle162711011
202132Logan Mailloux31----
2022Kent HughesJuraj Slafkovsky122448
Filip Mesar26----

☞ The Canadiens have spoken 47 times in the first round in those 43 years.

☞ It is important to note that during that time span, the Canadiens only won the Stanley Cup twice, in 1986 and 1993.

☞ Three times, in 1979, 1999 and 2008, have they not had a first round pick.

☞ They had three first round picks in 1981.

☞ Six times, they’ve had two first round picks: 1984, 1985, 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2022.

☞ Twice (1980 and 2022) they had the first overall pick and only six times in 43 years have they spoken in the top-5 of any Draft. They are:

  • 1st overall: Doug Wickenheiser (1980), Juraj Slafkovsky (2022)
  • 2nd overall: None
  • 3rd overall: Alex Galchenyuk (2012), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (2018)
  • 4th overall: None
  • 5th overall: Petr Svoboda (1984), Carey Price (2005)

Compare that to the Buffalo Sabres, who have picked top-5 in 8 occasions in the same time span, including 3 first overall and 2 second overall. Then to the Edmonton Oilers, who picked top-5 in 7 occasions since 1979, 4 times first overall including three years in a row from 2010 to 2012. Or even to the Ottawa Senators whom, since 1992, have had 7 top-5 picks, 3 of which were first overall.

By General Manager

Now, to make things more interesting, let’s break it down by General Managers. The reason why I have included the average number of goals is for continuity from the article from last week, when we specifically targeted the odds of getting a 20-plus goals’ scorer in the bottom-16 picks of the first round. In this case however, it includes all first round picks, not just the bottom-16.

GM# of DRAFTS# 1st Rd PICKSAVG PICK #AVG GP AVG GOALS
GRUNDMAN451334571
S. SAVARD13151543770
HOULE431516116
A. SAVARD351555257
GAINEY7715471*89
GAUTHIER22202838
BERGEVIN10101819834
HUGHES1214224
* includes Carey Price, not counted in AVG GOALS

Notice that I’ve placed a partition between Gainey and Gauthier. That’s because from Gauthier onwards, there are active players so those results will change. Although in Gauthier’s case, it won’t change much as his two players are Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.

☞ A couple of notes on Marc Bergevin’s picks:

  1. Alex Galchenyuk, Michael McCarron (who just entered the NHL and NHLPA assistance program) and Nikita Scherbak are pretty much where they will end up in games played and goals.
  2. Logan Mailloux is still in the junior ranks but has a very promising future.

☞ Because I know it’s important to some people, know that Trevor Timmins was in charge of Amateur Scouting (in different titles) since the 2003 Draft when he was hired by Bob Gainey. He served until 2021 as he was fired at the same time Bergevin was, last season.

Conclusion

I’ve decided to let you draw your own conclusion, particularly when it comes to the breakdown by GM. What I will tell you, however, is that this picture as an organization is not pretty, particularly that we’re not talking about a team that has had a lot of success in those 43 years. With that being said, if we did the same exercise, I fully suspect that the picture would be similar for just about every other NHL organization. Drafting is not a pure science and trying to determine the future of an 18 year-old teenager is almost impossible.

Fans should be encouraged by the more progressive approach take by the Canadiens since the hiring of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes. Not that they are better at drafting, as that’s an aspect that remains to be seen. But the high level of emphasis put towards player development, both from the prospects’ point of view and the continuation with players who have reached the NHL, is very promising. Time will tell if it pays off in the long run.

More reading…