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With the Connor Bedard sweepstakes over, the focus can now be shifted to the NHL Draft in June. The Montreal Canadiens did not win either of the lotteries, but they did, however, maintain their position at fifth overall. Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli are all but locks to go one and two respectively. But outside the top two, there is a surplus of top-end talent still available to the Canadiens at the fifth pick. Let’s take a look at some of these draft targets for the Montreal Canadiens with the 5th overall pick.
Montreal Canadiens Draft Targets
Will Smith is one of the most offensively creative players available to the Canadiens in this draft. The six-foot centreman put up an impressive 127 points in just 60 games for the USNTDP. These totals put him just shy of Jack Hughes for the program’s all-time career point record and second in single-season points only to teammate Gabe Perreault who is also available in this draft. If the Canadiens desire offensive play drivers, then Will Smith is their guy. With his hockey IQ and elite-level stickhandling, he should be a slam-dunk top-five pick.
Matvei Michkov is potentially the most polarizing player in this draft. Many see him as a first-overall-worthy talent and the second most talented prospect in this draft outside Bedard. Outside factors have scouts hesitant to pick the Russian forward, however. Michkov is under contract in the KHL until 2026 and there is no guarantee he signs with the team that drafts him once the deal expires. There is also skepticism about him being able to come to North America due to the ongoing situation in Russia. Despite the concerns, Michkov’s talent may prove to be too enticing to pass up. Therefore, he is a worthy gamble for the Canadiens at five.
If Leo Carlsson slips to five the Canadiens will be running up to the podium to draft him. Carlsson sits at 6 foot 3 and is the projected number three pick after a solid SHL season. Carlsson is one of teh most NHL ready prospects in this draft and his complete game alongside his dynamic skill and size make it easy to see why. In many drafts he would be worthy of a first overall selection. However the 2023 drat is projected to be one of the deepest in recent memory. Should the Jackets and Sharks opt to pick Will Smith and Matvei Michkov, it’s entirely possible that the Canadiens could steal Leo Carlsson at five.
Dvorsky has long been rumoured to the Canadiens by many insiders. This rumour likely stems from the Slovakian connection that he shares with habs 2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky. However, Dvorksy is a complete centreman who is projected to go somehere in the top 10. He would be the safest of these five picks as he projects to have a high floor. However, its unlikely taht he has a ceiling anywhere comparable to the likes of Michkov, Smith or Carlsoon. Nonetheless, Dvorsky would still be a worthy selection to fill out the Canadiens center core, and play alongside his fellow Slovak.
David Reinbacher is the only defenceman to crack this list. He is projected to be the first defenseman taken in the draft. He fills a void for the Canadiens as he is a big right-shot defenseman. The Canadiens have a surplus of defenseman prospects but are thin on the right side. They have Justin Barron who saw NHL time as well as Logan Mailloux, but outside of those two the future of the right side appears thin. If the Canadiens opt to draft for positional need and fill that void tehn David Reinbacher would be a worthy selection.
While Canadiens fans will be disappointed with the outcome of the lottery, there is still reason for optimism. They have plenty of enticing options abailable to them with the fifth overall pick. In such a deep draft, they may very well get a player at five who could have gone first overall in several other draft classes. With at least one of Smith, Michkov, and Carlsson avaialable to tehm along with Dvorsky and Reinbacher, the Montreal Canadiens should be excited for the NHL Draft in June.
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