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 Smith||May 17/05||6’0||172||C||R||5||10|
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 Hrabal||Jan 20/05||6’6||209||G||L||28||75|
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 Pekarcik||Sep 12/05||6’2||183||LW/C||L||40||102|
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 Kumpulainen||Aug 8/05||6’2||196||LW||L||55||97|
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 Sidorov||Jun 18/04||6’0||176||LW/RW||L||115||122|
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 Fisher||Mar 27/05||6’2||187||C/LW||L||77||130|
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 Romani||Jul 12/05||6’0||179||C/RW||R||147||159|
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 Ishimnikov||Apr 21/05||6’3||196||D||R||148||148|
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 Hammell||Mar 12/05||6’2||181||D||R||143||143|
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 Uchacz||Jun 24/03||6’1||192||C||R||91||172|
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 Matejicek||Aug 5/05||6’2||205||D||L||215||215|
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.