It was a disastrous year for Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens finished 4th from last in the entire NHL and the team proved that they have some obvious holes. The Canadiens were the lowest scoring team in the league this season and finished 25th in goals against. The Habs struggled with injuries as well as consistency all year, and not having a true number one or number two centre proved detrimental to the team’s success.
Bergevin has been forced to hit the reset button. He started by firing his assistant coaches J.J. Daigneault and Dan Lacroix, as well as Laval Rocket head coach Sylvain Lefebvre. So far he’s hired Dominic Ducharme to assist Claude Julien and Joel Bouchard to coach Laval. His next order of business to change the fate of the organization is to have a successful draft in June.
Montreal Canadiens Draft preview
Bergevin has set the Habs up well heading into the draft. He maximized the amount of early round picks for Trevor Timmins as he has five picks in the top 60. We are going to take a look at each pick, and project who the Habs might take at each pick in the first two rounds. Each player will be presented with a full scouting report which can be accessed by clicking the Player’s name. Each scouting report was written by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr.
First Round: 3rd Overall
The Habs moved up one spot in the draft this year as they were awarded the 3rd overall pick during the NHL Draft Lottery. Rasmus Dahlin will certainly go first overall but depending on who the Hurricanes value more, the Habs could end up with one of two elite forwards. There is also a dark horse on defence the Habs may elect to take.
Svechnikov is the projected number two pick in this years NHL entry draft. A pure goal scorer, Svechnikov is ready to enter the league as early as this coming season. He has the tools to be able to beat his opponents in many different ways. He also plays a strong two-way game.
Zadina is the projected number three pick in this year’s draft. Said to be the best goal scorer of the draft class, he is certainly the type of player the Habs need. Zadina has a terrific shot and he uses it often. He also plays a very responsible defensive game.
This years draft is defence heavy and Hughes is one of the best. A terrific skater and puck mover, Hughes could be the partner the Habs are looking for, for Shea Weber for years to come. While he’s not the biggest in stature, he doesn’t shy away from the physical side of things. With the way the game is trending, Hughes could be a top defender in the near future.
Tkachuk spent the season with Boston University. He also played a starring role on the top line for the United States at the World Juniors. Like his brother and father, Tkachuk combines size, skill, and grit in a power forward’s package. There are some question marks over just how much high-end skill there is though.
Projected Pick: Filip Zadina
The Habs need for goal scoring has never been greater and Zadina is the best pure goal scorer in the draft. There are thoughts that the Hurricanes may take Zadina over Svechnikov due to the chemistry Zadina and Hurricanes prospect Martin Necas showed at the World Junior Championships this year but its hard to see.
Second Round: Picks 35 and 38
The Habs are sitting with four picks in the second round. With the lack of prospects at the centre and left defence positions, the Habs will certainly look to address that. First, we will look at the two early second round picks.
Dellandrea is an excellent skater with a very high hockey IQ. He has a hard and accurate wrist shot. Dellandrea plays a strong two-way game and is relied on in all situations. Plays a very smart but simple game.
Tychonick is a solid playmaking defenceman. While he is undersized, Tychonick makes up for it with his speed. He is an elite skater and a workhorse on the backend. Tychonick’s size is his biggest downfall right now but with some added muscle he has top-four potential at the NHL level.
With the Habs need for a centre, they may want to use one of their second-round picks on Benoit-Olivier Groulx. Groulx is not the greatest skater but makes up for it by being able to play a solid two-way game. He possesses a lethal shot but his best tool is his defensive ability. Groulx played on a line with projected Habs draft pick Filip Zadina in Halifax this season. He has second line centre potential but may be better suited in a shutdown role.
Some teams like to draft players based on raw potential, but if the Habs are looking for a safe pick, Samuelsson is the way to go. He’s a big, left-shot defenceman who has soft hands and good footwork. Samuelsson also has a high hockey IQ and makes high percentage plays rather than risky ones. He has all the tools to be a very good top four defenceman for any team in the not-too-distant future.
35th Overall: Ty Dellandrea
38th Overall: Jonny Tychonick
With the need at centre and left defence, the Habs will certainly look to draft both of these positions early in the second round. Dellandrea is most likely going to be the best centre available at the 35th pick. Tychonick is exactly what the Habs need on the left side, a fast puck moving defenceman. Both players would be excellent additions to the Habs prospect pool.
Second Round: Picks 56 and 62
Mclaughlin has all the skill to be successful at the NHL level. He’s highly skilled, with a high IQ and excellent playmaking ability. He’s very creative, especially on the powerplay. The biggest downfall is his size. Mclaughlin is committed to the University of Minnesota, which will make him a long-term prospect but will give him time to add some much-needed muscle.
McBain is a very interesting prospect. He’s oozing with potential but can’t seem to put it all together and is sometimes tries to do too much. He has excellent offensive abilities and a tremendous shot. The question marks for McBain are on the defensive side of the game as well as his skating. He’s a bit of a project, but with the right coaching and development, he could be elite.
Jay O’Brien is known as a two-way player with upside. He plays a responsible game and is an extremely good skater. O’Brien possesses great stickhandling ability as well as quick and hard wrist shot. He works hard in the defensive end but could still use a bit of work on his positioning. With the right coaching, O’Brien could be a solid two-way centre for the Habs for years to come.
Drury isn’t elite in any aspect of the game, but he does everything well. He has ties to the NHL thanks to his dad Ted and uncle Chris Drury. Drury can be relied on to play in all situations of the game and can move up and down the line up is needed. He’s got good leadership qualities and great character. Something Marc Bergevin values immensely.
56th Overall: Jack Drury
62nd Overall: Jay O’Brien
The Habs need at centre is greater than ever. The Habs managed to pick up 3 extra second round picks for this year’s draft so I feel they will certainly use them to try to stock the cupboards in hopes in finding a true number 1 or number 2 centre. Jack Drury or Jay O’Brien certainly have the abilities to do so.
To review, I feel the Habs will mostly go with forwards in the first two rounds, specifically centres. With the Habs having such an early pick this year, it’s unfortunate there is not a top-level centre in the top five. However, Filip Zadina is certainly an elite level prospect who will help the club in an area they struggle with, which is goal scoring. The need for a number one centre is something that has been haunting the Habs since Saku Koivu‘s departure and having four second-round picks gives them ample opportunity to acquire one. Having five picks in the top 61 will also help speed up the ability for the team to get back into contention as early as next season.
3rd overall – Flilp Zadina
35th overall – Ty Dellandrea
38th overall – Jonny Tychonick
56th overall – Jack Drury
61st overall – Jay O’Brien
Embed from Getty Images