Despite battling for a top draft pick, the Montreal Canadiens are showing positive signs

Right now the Canadiens are getting the best of both worlds.

Let me get one thing out of the way right away: the Montreal Canadiens are still not a good hockey team.

OK, now I can get to the rest now that I have established a baseline.

There is a segment of the fan base that doesn’t care about anything other than the Canadiens losing in regulation. There is a segment of the fan base that just wants to see competitive hockey.

On Thursday, and most nights over the last couple of months, the Canadiens made both sides happy.

Personally, I think the agonizing over every point is unnecessary. With the obvious caveat that yes, the highest pick and odds is best, whoever gets Connor Bedard will be determined by the balls in the lottery. While the Canadiens finished last a year ago and won the first overall pick, that outcome is not always going to happen and isn’t even the most likely result. There is a 55.7% chance that the team that finishes last in the standings will not pick #1 or #2.

Either way, despite goals from key pieces of the team’s future in Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach on Thursday, the Canadiens lost in regulation. They also saw the Philadelphia Flyers win which added some breathing room between Montreal and the #6 spot in the draft lottery.

The Canadiens going into Boston and putting up a fight despite missing significant names from their roster is a good sign for the future. It’s not necessary to name every player the Canadiens were missing, but add those players to a group that will include a top-10 pick in the 2023 Draft, Lane Hutson, Sean Farrell, and others, and you start to see the foundation of a pretty successful build. Of course, the Bruins have been in clinch mode for the last few weeks, but other teams have looked a lot worse against them lately.

It’s not going to happen overnight, and there’s a significant amount of work to still be done by Kent Hughes and the rest of the front office, but when you look on the ice, you can see the team evolving before your eyes.

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