Hypothetical Draft – Canadiens

By Bob Trask – The Canadiens are flush with draft picks this year and there are several ways in which they could take advantage of that situation. This represents one of those potential approaches and in this hypothetical situation, I have Kent Hughes trading the first round pick he acquired from Florida in the Ben Chiarot trade and adding a second round pick through a draft day trade.

While it is unlikely to happen this way, it illustrates the kinds of choices that could be made at the draft table. With each player, the highest ranking and the lowest ranking that I was able to find for each has been listed.

Round One – Pick 5

Not much more can be said about Will Smith that hasn’t already been written by someone. I’ll leave it at that.

Will SmithMay 17/056’0172CR510

Round One – Pick 31 or 32

This pick is relinquished in a hypothetical draft day trade

Round Two – Pick 37

The Canadiens are almost certainly going to choose a goaltender early in the draft. It seems to be a strong draft in that regard and Michael Hrabal is one of the leading candidates.

Michael HrabalJan 20/056’6209GL2875

Round Two – Pick 50 to 60

This pick is acquired in a hypothetical draft day trade. Juraj Pekarcik is one of the youngest players in the draft and like many European players, he suited up for 6 different teams this year. He had a strong 16 game stint in the Slovakia U20 league and a very strong U18 international tournament.

Juraj PekarcikSep 12/056’2183LW/CL40102

Round Three – Pick 69

Like Peckarcik, Rasmus Kumpulainen is one of the younger players in the draft. He is a big body LW and had a solid season both in the Finnish U20 league and in U18 international play.

Rasmus KumpulainenAug 8/056’2196LWL5597

Round Four – Pick 101

Yegor Sidorov was passed over in last year’s draft, the winger from Belarus put up solid offensive numbers with the Saskatoon Blades this year, scoring 40 goals in only 53 regular season games and having a solid playoff run with 19 points in 16 games.

Yegor SidorovJun 18/046’0176LW/RWL115122

Round 4 – Pick 110

Jake Fisher played most of the season at the high school level and also had a short 12 game stint in the USHL. Fisher dominated at the high school level, amassing 34 goals and 63 points in 29 games for Cretin-Durham Hall. He has committed to Denver in the NCAA next season, a college that always seems to have strong teams and turns out good players.

Jake FisherMar 27/056’2187C/LWL77130

Round 4 – Pick 127

Anthony Romani is the first Canadian player in this list. Despite being one of the younger players in the draft, Romani has completed two full seasons in the OHL, putting up 43 points in 66 games for the North Bay Battalion this year.

Anthony RomaniJul 12/056’0179C/RWR147159

Round 5 – Pick 133

Nikita Ishimnikov is the first Russian player in this list. He is a big body RD who played primarily in the Russian Junior League (MHL) last year amassing 13 goals in 48 games.

Nikita IshimnikovApr 21/056’3196DR148148

Round 5 – Pick 145

Kaden Hammell would represent another addition to the Canadiens’ stable of RD prospects. He played 67 games in the WHL last year, splitting time between Kamloops and Everett. Between the two teams he managed to put up 26 points while taking 35 minutes in penalties.

Kaden HammellMar 12/056’2181DR143143

Round 6 – Pick 165

Late round picks can be used to take a flyer on a overlooked prospect. The Canadiens did it in 2021 with Xavier Simoneau, they could do it again with Kai Uchacz who was passed over in his first two years of draft eligibility. The Red Deer Rebel right winger had a breakout season after playing sporadically because of Covid shut-downs. He had 50 goals in 68 regular season games and followed that up with another 9 goals in 12 playoff games.

Kai UchaczJun 24/036’1192CR91172

Round 7 – Pick 197

As with Kai Uchacz in the 6th round, the 7th round pick can be used to choose someone flying under the radar. In this case, it is Martin Matejicek. The big defenseman had a solid season in the Czech U20 league and played a short stint in the Czech Division 2 league. He also represented is country internationally in the U18 age group. Matejicek is one of the younger players in the draft.

Martin MatejicekAug 5/056’2205DL215215


The ages of the players here range from those who are barely old enough to qualify for the 2023 draft to a couple who have already been overlooked in previous drafts. Because some of the youngest players chosen are not from the CHL, the Canadiens would have a long window to monitor their development without making a commitment.

There is no focus on one position among the choices other than the Canadiens will almost certainly select a goaltender at some point. In this list, the choice is made with a second round pick.

While it is unlikely that the Canadiens will select any of these players, this hypothetical list is designed to give you a flavor of how a draft can unfold. Most of us focus on the first two rounds of the draft but gems can sometimes be found in the later rounds. It will be interesting to see how the draft develops for the Canadiens and what kinds of choices Kent Hughes will make.

Building A Winner

By JD Lagrange – Have you ever noticed how fans (and teams, to a point) often look at the last Stanley Cup winners to determine what it takes to build a winning team? It’s not a concept that’s recent, as it’s been a regular cycle for decades now.

In the 70’s, the Big Bad Bruins and the Broadstreet Bullies were terrorizing their opposition. That’s until the Flying Frenchmen came about, beating them with speed and making those teams pay for getting into the penalty box.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, the days of Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek, everyone claimed that you could not win without a top notch goaltender. Then came the mid-90’s Detroit Red Wings who won with Chris Osgood in net. So much for that theory.

Then the story line became Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer… and the same people claimed that you couldn’t win without a true dominant defenseman able to play 30 minutes a game. And then came Sidney Crosby.

At that point (still somewhat holding true today), you needed a two-headed monster at the center position, like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Every team tried to load up on centers, good quality top-end centers.

But since the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept in four games by the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, a hard-working, grinding team, the Bolts added grit to their line-up and went on their winning way. I’ve been stating for a long time that the Toronto Maple Leafs were lacking grit, particularly their top players, and they can’t take the next step because of it even today.

So today, teams need gritty players who will pay the price and up their game for the playoffs. What will it be tomorrow?

Here’s the only true fact: there is no single solution to winning in the NHL. You can win with a top-end goalie. You can win with a top-end defenseman. You can win with quality centers and you can win with grit in your line-up. What it takes is a good team, good balance, good coaching but mostly, a group of players who believe they can win and are willing to do what it takes, to put themselves second, in order to achieve a team goal.


It is blatantly painful to read on social media how difficult it is to some to give credit (any credit) to Marc Bergevin during his time in Montreal. At times, the attack on the man are so personal that it feels like the guy slept with their wife or mother! Yet, what he and his right-hand man Trevor Timmins started with their Reset of 2018 is starting to pay off. And this new management group, led by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, has acknowledged that in more than one occasion. They are simply continuing what previous management has started, with a better focus on developing those young prospects better.

No matter whom you want to give credit to doesn’t change the fact that this Montreal Canadiens’ team has some great pieces to build around in order to become contenders in a not too far future. While some fans will mistakenly read too much in player comparisons, the intent when doing so isn’t to say that player A will become player B, but to give an idea of the style of a young player. Player A will be his own version of player A. Clear?

So here are some of the core players and prospects, and whom they remind me of.

NICK SUZUKI – Philip Danault was the first one to make the correlation with the Bruins’ player but to me, Suzuki is a mix between Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly. A great two-way center, a leader, the team captain who has learned that aspect of the game from one of the greatest leaders, Shea Weber, with whom he still consults from time to time. You win with guys like that.

COLE CAUFIELD – Don’t look too far for this one as to me, he is almost a spitting image of his current coach, Martin St-Louis. And the comparison goes beyond his smallish stature. He’s intelligent, has good speed, and he knows where the net is on the ice at all times. Better, he relates and understand his coach, and unlike Jesperi Kotkaniemi who thought he had it all figured out, Caufield is keen and willing to learn more each day.

JURAJ SLAFKOVSKY – When the Canadiens made him the very first pick at last year’s NHL Draft, it surprised fans and media members. But when you ask NHL executives, it wasn’t a shocker. Kent Hughes has said from day one that the big Slovak is a project and will need time to reach his full potential so they won’t get discouraged by one season. When I look at Slafkovsky, I think that he will be in the mold of Chris Kreider and in spite of the history with Habs’ fans (the Carey Price injury), who wouldn’t want a Kreider in their line-up?

KIRBY DACH – Dach has taken a big step last season with the Habs but what I like most about him, is his reply to a question at the end of the season. When asked if he had broken through, he acknowledged having taken a step forward but said that no, he hasn’t broken through yet. This tells me that he knows he can be better and will work towards it. Skills-wise, I see a potential to become like Mark Scheifele (with a better head on his shoulders).

KAIDEN GUHLE – I’ve said it when he was junior, I’ve said it since. I’ve watched a young Shea Weber play for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL and I’ve seen a few games of Guhle, also in the same league and the similarities are astonishing. Guhle doesn’t have the shot or the physical toughness of Man Mountain, but he’s a better skater and stick handler than the Canadiens’ former captain. He is the type of guy you win with.

LOGAN MAILLOUX – Watching this kid play this year has been more than a pleasant surprise. Considering that the young man had only managed to play 31 games in the past two seasons combined, for him to be this dominant this past season is not only remarkable, it speaks of his immense talent. And doing this while being under everyone’s scrutiny makes it that much more impressive. From his size, skills’ set and style of play, he reminds me a lot of Brent Burns.

LANE HUTSON – Much has been written and said about Hutson since the Canadiens selected him at last year’s NHL Draft. He’s had an incredible season at all levels and the future is bright for the young man. He still has some maturing and developing to do n the NCAA next season but his skating abilities, his vision on the ice and his play in general has opened the eyes of many in the hockey world. Living in BC, I can see a lot of Quinn Hughes in him.

I haven’t watched enough of the follow players to be able to have an educated assessment of the following players, but they are showing great things:

  • Riley Kidney
  • Joshua Roy
  • Owen Beck
  • Sean Farrell
  • Filip Mesar
  • Adam Engstrom
  • Emil Heineman
  • Petteri Nurmi

So that’s who the Canadiens are building their team around. A mix of speed, character, talent, skating… With a coach like Martin St-Louis, who has so far done well in bringing up young talent, the future is indeed very bright for the Habs. And watch Hughes go at this year’s NHL Draft. Not only who he picks at number 5, but the trade(s) he will likely complete. He doesn’t want to wait another 2-3-4 years before becoming competitive. Something tells me that he will pull another Kirby Dach out of his hat…