If there’s any sort of light at the end of this awful season, it’s certainly that the Montreal Canadiens have a mother lode of draft picks in what looks to be a deep 2018 entry draft. Not only that, but there are multiple top-end players who fit the needs within Montreal’s organization. There are several potentially elite defencemen available in addition to a large group of centres who could fit into the Habs lineup in the relatively near future.
With a pick likely to land somewhere around the top five, there will be a substantial selection of talent that Montreal can pick from, and, quite honestly, it’d be difficult for them to not land someone who has a high chance of becoming an impact player.
Based on HockeyProspect.com’s March rankings and the Habs’ current draft position, there’s a decent chance that the Habs end the day of the first round with one of Rasmus Dahlin, Filip Zadina, Andrei Svechnikov, Adam Boqvist, or Brady Tkachuk; not exactly awful territory to be in for the Canadiens. Even if they should slip a bit due to lottery repositioning, there’s talent like Quinn Hughes, Evan Bouchard, and Oliver Wahlstrom waiting in the wings.
If they win the lottery, the decision is simple: the Canadiens draft Dahlin and kill two birds with one stone. They get a true, top-level prospect, and also likely find someone who can slide into their lineup immediately on defence.
Zadina and Svechnikov are both high-end, high-scoring wingers. They would be good offensive replacements if the Canadiens are in fact set to move on from Max Pacioretty, with that move likely giving the Habs even more vouchers for the draft weekend.
Then of course there is Brady Tkachuk, who despite not being on the same level skill-wise is a highly effective menace around the net. If Habs fans love Brendan Gallagher, imagine adding a bigger version of the team’s sparkplug to the lineup. Standing at 6’3” and close to 200 pounds, Tkachuk came into his own at the World Juniors tournament when playing with Casey Mittelstadt and, occasionally, Canadiens prospect Ryan Poehling.
Boqvist and Hughes are both part of the new wave of defenders, those who can skate and make plays happen all over the ice. It’s something Montreal has specifically been working on addressing in their recent drafts. Of course there is also Bouchard, who despite playing for a meagre team in London this year became one of the CHL’s best defencemen and has rocketed up the draft boards in recent months.
Outside of the first round, things look extremely promising as well. With their own first- and second-round picks and with Chicago’s second-rounder, they’ll have at least three picks in the top 50. The Habs own at least seven picks in rounds two through four, and potentially an eighth if the Los Angeles Kings make the playoffs. Players like Nils Lundkvist, K’Andre Miller or Ty Dellandrea could be available, all of whom would greatly interest the Habs. The depth is there in the draft that the Habs can find serious talent outside the first 31 prospects, and they’re loaded with the picks to do so.
The time for in-depth profiles on each of these players will be coming in the near future, but one point is clear: Montreal would have to actively sabotage themselves to not end up with several useful rebuilding tools. If there was ever a time to have a poor season like the Canadiens have, they certainly picked the right one this year.