On June 26th, the NHL will hold it’s 53rd annual entry draft, in Sunrise, Florida.
For the Montreal Canadiens, a team that prides itself on building through the draft and depending on the brilliance of head scout Trevor Timmins, they’ll make their way to the podium as the holders of the 26th overall pick.
The fun and games amidst pundits regarding who the Canadiens will select in their position has already started, as people flock to social media and take part in mock draft games on hockey message boards. With 2015 being one of the best draft years in a long time, the possibilities to have several names on board by the time the Habs select has left fans of the bleu-blanc-rouge salivating.
At the late-20s, Montreal could fulfil a need at any position. Their glaring hole is at centre, where beyond Alex Galchenyuk — who currently does not play in that position — Lars Eller and a graduating Jacob De La Rose, all of whom spend equal time on the wing as they do centre, there’s not much depth. In the prospect pool, Joonas Nattinen (yes the Habs retain his rights), Daniel Audette and Jeremy Gregoire all fail to scream big, top-6 centre, while Gabriel Dumont projects to nothing more than a depth player at the NHL level. Michael McCarron has spent a lot of time at centre this season, but he ultimately may be a winger in the pro game. Last Word On Sports has Jansen Harkins listed at #30. Jack Roslovic could be a reach, currently listed at #34. Then there’s players who would need to fall, such as Joel Eriksson-Ek, listed at #20, and Colin White, listed at #22.
Brock Boeser, who plays right wing and is listed at #26, is a big, scoring winger that is compared in style to the New York Islanders’ Kyle Okposo. Certainly a scoring winger would be another need for the Montreal Canadiens, who continue to struggle with putting pucks into nets.
On the blue line, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn could all be fighting for a full-time graduation, leaving some space in the defensive end of the pool. Options like Brandon Carlo, listed at #29, and the Swedish-native Jacob Larsson, listed at #25, could be two players to consider.
Beyond the players available this year, there is another option at hand – trading down. We’ve seen teams trade away their first rounders to acquire a player. Recently, the New Jersey Devils sent their 9th overall selection in 2013 to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for starting goaltender Corey Schneider. That player turned out to be Bo Horvat.
The Canadiens are no strangers to this strategy either, as they acquired Alex Tanguay from the Calgary Flames, along with a 5th round pick (Maxim Trunev) in exchange for their 2008 first round pick (Greg Nemisz) and their 2009 second round pick (Stefan Elliott). A move that secured a scoring winger for the Canadiens up until his shoulder injury took him out of play, reducing him to a career-low 50 game season.
But in this case, the option of trading down would not be to obtain the services of a player but rather receive two second round picks in return, which the Montreal Canadiens currently do not have as a result of the Jeff Petry trade. A number of teams have two picks in the second round, and two have the gift of drafting three times in that round. As of right now:
Columbus Blue Jackets select – 34th, 38th and 60th
Calgary Flames select – 45th, 52nd and 53rd
Buffalo Sabres select – 31st and 51st
Edmonton Oilers select – 33rd and 57th
Arizona Coyotes select – 32nd and 59th
New Jersey Devils select – 36th and 41st
Ottawa Senators select – 42nd and 48th
If Bergevin can sway another general manager’s hand and land a couple of second round selections for the 26th pick, given all of the options are gone by the time they get called to the podium, the Canadiens have the chance of landing two prospects in the top 60, possibly even one that belongs in the first round but slipped through the cracks.
In the last ten years, this type of deal has been made numerous of times.
– Washington trades the 47th (Tom Fritsche) and 52nd (Chris Durand) picks to Colorado in exchange for the 27th pick (Joe Finley)
– Florida trades the 29th pick(Steve Downie) in 2005 as well as the 41st pick (Cory Emmerton) in 2006 to Philadelphia in exchange for the 20th pick (Kenndal McArdle)
– San Jose trades the 20th (David Fischer) and 53rd (Mathieu Carle) picks to Montreal in exchange for the 16th pick (Ty Wishart)
-Arizona trades the 41st (Cory Emmerton, again) and 47th (Shawn Matthias) picks to Detroit in exchange for the 29th pick (Chris Summers) as well as the 152nd pick (Jordan Bendfeld)
– St. Louis trades the 30th (Matthew Corrente) and 77th (Vladimir Zharkov) picks to New Jersey in exchange for the 25th pick (Patrik Berglund)
– San Jose trades the 13th (Lars Eller) and 44th (Aaron Palushaj) picks, as well as the 87th pick in 2008 (Ian Schultz) to St. Louis in exchange for the 9th pick (Logan Couture)
– St. Louis trades the 24th (Mikael Backlund) and 70th (John Negrin) picks to Calgary in exchange for the 18th pick (Ian Cole)
– Minnesota trades the 19th (Logan MacMillan) and 42nd (Eric Tangradi) picks to Anaheim in exchange for the 16th pick (Colton Gillies)
– Edmonton trades the 30th (Nick Ross) and 36th (Joel Gistedt) picks to Arizona in exchange for the 21st pick (Riley Nash)
– San Jose trades the 41st pick (Kevin Marshall) in 2007 as well as the 57th pick (Eric Mestery) in 2008 to Washington in exchange for the 28th pick (Nick Petrecki)
– Toronto trades the 7th (Colin Wilson) and 68th (Shawn Lalonde) picks as well as the 37th pick (Mat Clark) in 2009 to the Islanders in exchange for the 5th pick (Luke Schenn)
– Nashville trades the 9th (Josh Bailey) and 40th (Aaron Ness) picks to the Islanders in exchange for the 7th pick (Colin Wilson)
– Los Angeles trades the 17th (Jake Gardiner) and 28th (Viktor Tikhonov) picks to Anaheim in exchange for the 12th pick (Tyler Myers)
– Buffalo trades the 13th pick (Colten Teubert) in 2008 as well as the 74th pick (Ryan Howse) in 2009 to Los Angeles in exchange for the 12th pick (Tyler Myers)
– Ottawa trades the 18th pick (Chet Pickard) as well as the 70th pick (Taylor Beck) in 2009 to Nashville in exchange for the 15th pick (Erik Karlsson)
– Washington trades the 23rd (Tyler Cuma) and 54th (Patrice Cormier) picks to New Jersey in exchange for the 21st pick (Anton Gustafsson)
– Minnesota trades the 24th pick (Mattias Tedenby) as well as the 73rd pick (Alexander Urbom) in 2009 to New Jersey in exchange for the 23rd pick (Tyler Cuma)
– Arizona trades the 35th (Nicolas Deschamps) and 39th (Eric O’Dell) picks to Anaheim in exchange for the 28th pick (Viktor Tikhonov)
– Columbus trades the 16th (Nick Leddy) and 77th (Matthew Hackett) picks to the Islanders in exchange for the 26th (Kyle Palmieri), 37th (Mat Clark), 62nd (Anders Nilsson) and 92nd (Casey Cizikas) picks
– Islanders trade the 16th (Nick Leddy) and 77th (Matthew Hackett) picks to Minnesota in exchange for the 12th pick (Calvin de Haan)
– Columbus trades the 26th (Kyle Palmieri) and 37th (Mat Clark) picks to Anaheim in exchange for the 21st pick (John Moore)
– Tampa Bay trades the 32nd (Landon Ferrero) and 75th (Andrej Nestrasil) picks to Detroit in exchange for the 29th pick (Carter Ashton)
– Los Angeles trades the 19th (Nick Bjugstad) and 59th (Jason Zucker) picks to Florida in exchange for the 15th pick (Derek Forbort)
– Montreal trades the 25th (Mark Visentin) and 57th (Oscar Lindberg) picks to Arizona in exchange for the 22nd (Jarred Tinordi) and 113th (Mark MacMillan) picks
– Islanders trade the 35th (Ludvig Rensfeldt) and 58th (Kent Simpson) picks to Chicago in exchange for the 30th pick (Brock Nelson)
– Toronto trades the 30th (Rickard Rakell) and 39th (John Gibson) picks to Anaheim in exchange for the 22nd pick (Tyler Biggs)
– Ottawa trades the 35th (Tomas Jurco) and 38th (Xavier Ouellet) picks to Detroit in exchange for the 24th pick (Matt Puempel)
– Buffalo trades the 21st (Mark Jankowski) and 42nd (Patrick Sieloff) to Calgary in exchange for the 14th pick (Zemgus Girgensons)
– San Jose trades the 20th (Anthony Mantha) and 58th (Tyler Bertuzzi) picks to Detroit in exchange for the 18th pick (Mirco Mueller)
– Chicago trades the 27th (Nikolay Goldobin) and 62nd (Justin Kirkland) picks to San Jose in exchange for the 20th (Nick Schmaltz) and 179th (Ivan Nalimov) picks
– Islanders trade the 35th (Dominik Masin) and 57th (Jonathan MacLeod) picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for the 28th pick (Joshua Ho-Sang)
What should Montreal do?
After taking a glance at a ten year history of a few shell-shockers and major flops, Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens have an interesting position with the 26th overall pick. The smart (and likely only) decision will be to stand pat and wait it out to see who is still left on the board. The opportunity is there however, as multiple teams hold on to a couple of second round picks and if one is chomping at the bit and looking to move into the first round to grab a prospect they like, then pending on who the Canadiens like, it would be wise to pull the trigger and knock themselves down a few pegs to pick up a pair of second round selections.