Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has said he is “open” to trading the team’s third overall pick.
This could just be a smoke screen thrown up by Bergevin to get other general managers to call him and start discussions on other potential moves. The Canadiens are likely using their pick and are probably choosing the guy they believe has the highest potential to positively impact their team for the next decade and beyond.
However, instead of being open to an offer that blows them away, maybe the Canadiens will be the ones approaching another team in the top 10.
After Trevor Timmins’ hit on TSN690, it seems the Habs will be drafting one of Jesperi Kotkaniemi or Brady Tkachuk. Again, the assistant GM could just be tricking us all, and opt to take Sprague Ribinsoin.
But as pointed out in our consensus rankings, the players ranked three through 10 could go in any order due to their perceived potential being similar.
In the consensus, Filip Zadina, Quinn Hughes, Tkachuk, Oliver Wahlstrom, Adam Boqvist, Kotkaniemi, Noah Dobson, and Evan Bouchard all average a ranking better than the 10th position, with Ty Smith, the 11th-ranked player, finish with an average of about 14.
Tkachuk and Kotkaniemi had a variance of nine and 15, respectively, further providing evidence that the two players most likely to be taken by the Canadiens could just as easily fall to 10th depending on other teams’ values and needs.
Beyond that, the draft is still considered very deep with players ranked in the mid-second round being spoken of as steals.
So what does this mean for the Habs and the third overall pick?
A perfect match
With several players in the top 10 all holding a similar value, one at the bottom of that range could be just as likely to garner an eventual NHL star as one at the top, For that reason, a trade down the order could be a good decision, and the New York Rangers make sense as a potential trade partner.
The Rangers hold the ninth, 26th (via Boston) and 28th (via Tampa Bay) picks in this year’s draft. The Canadiens could offer their third overall choice for the ninth and the 26th picks.
Why it would work for the Rangers
New York has some solid forward prospects in Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, and Brett Howden, along with some good young forwards on their roster. What they are missing is the elite offensive play-driver.
At the third overall pick, the Rangers could take Zadina who fills that role and can create his own offence. Zadina is also very close friends with Chytil and the pair has shown chemistry at the World Junior Championship for the Czech Republic in the past.
Why it would work for Montreal
It is thought that the Canadiens have a lot of holes in their organization, but the biggest might be their lack of NHL-bound prospects.
At number nine, the Canadiens would still have the choice between two or more of the consensus top 10, and one of those could still be Kotkaniemi.
They would also be getting the 26th pick, which, in this deep draft, could also net a good prospect. Names like Ty Dellandrea, Ryan McLeod, and Ryan Merkley could still be available.
Alternatively, the team could add a roster player in a trade down with the Rangers.
The Rangers currently have 11 pending free agents who were on their roster at the end of last season, seven of which are set to become RFAs. There are rumours circulating that they may be looking to move one of those RFAs, namely Ryan Spooner or Kevin Hayes.
Montreal may be able to entice New York with the third overall pick for the ninth and one of those centres. This would give Montreal a very good second-line centre for next season while still maintaining a pick in the top 10.
What are the chances?
If the Canadiens do decide to trade the third for the ninth and the 26th pick, it must be said that, historically speaking, they are looking at lowering their chance of drafting a top-six forward or top-four defenceman.
Last year Scott Cullen wrote an article on TSN outlining this information.
The following chart is based off Cullen’s model:
It goes without saying that if the Habs were to keep the third pick they have the opportunity to draft whomever they want from the tier of eight players. However, if Timmins works some magic, then the Canadiens might be able to land two impact players in the first round of the draft — or at the very least one prospect and a proven NHL centre.
Here are the prospects that have been taken third, ninth, and 26th overall since the 2014 NHL draft: