In a year when no fans were allowed inside an arena to watch things unfold, the Montreal Canadiens made eight selections in the 2020 NHL Draft. Looking to add some bulk, but skilled bulk, the Canadiens added some solid bets to make an NHL roster down the line while also picking some potentially hidden gems from lesser leagues in the later rounds. So without further ado, let’s introduce the 2020 Canadiens draft class!
Round One, 16th overall selection: Kaiden Guhle
While not quite the same level of excitement as the Cole Caufield pick from the previous year, Guhle is a great pick from the Canadiens’ scouting staff. A rangy, highly mobile defender with a mean physical edge to his game fits right into what the Habs are trying to build.
He has some offensive upside, and could grow even more in that department this upcoming season. It’s easy to label him as a defensive defenseman, but he’s one for the modern NHL with great skating and size to be a nightmare for opposing offences.
Round Two, 47th overall selection: Luke Tuch
Follow Luke on Twitter: @luketuch37
Confirming the trend of adding skilled size to the team, the Canadiens used the first of their back-to-back picks on a 6’3” winger from the US Development Program. Luke Tuch is the brother of current Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex, and brings a physical element in the style of the newly acquired Josh Anderson.
"I like to get in players faces and I like to mix it up a little bit." - Luke Tuch.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 7, 2020
Says he plays a bit like Jamie Benn and he approaches the game a bit like Matthew Tkachuk.
Tuch not only brings the physicality, but also some solid offensive production. He’s a solid skater for a player his size, and loves to get to the net to hack away at loose pucks. Some work is needed on his mental game, but his time at Boston University will help him in that regard.
Round Two, 48th overall selection: Jan Mysak
After going big on physicality and a tough edge, the Canadiens opted for a high-skill centre from the Czech Republic in Mysak. Listed on many boards as a first-round talent, he slid down the boards and right into the Canadiens’ grasp. A smooth skater at top speed, he also has the talent to cut east-west and make drives toward the net to create scoring chances.
Even when at top speed, Mysak does well to identify potential openings in his opponent’s defence, and can change his attacking style to suit the situation. There’s a lot of potential for Mysak to grow into a dangerous high-end prospect, and after sliding out of round one, he’s a steal for the Canadiens.
Round Four, 101st overall selection: Jack Smith
Follow Jack on Twitter: @jack_smith10
In round four, the Canadiens started looking outside the typical leagues and dipped into the US high-school program, specifically in Minnesota with the selection of Jack Smith. Despite battling through some injuries in the regular season, Smith was able to return for the playoffs and take over as a dominant player for St. Cloud Cathedral.
While not overly large, Smith has added some strength to his body, allowing him to win more board battles and aid his two-way growth. A strong shooter with a solid skating base, he did well to keep his opponents on their heels and generated big offensive numbers. He’s committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but he may also take some time in the USHL with Sioux Falls before starting his collegiate career.
Round Four, 108th overall selection: Blake Biondi
Follow Blake on Twitter: @biondi_blake7
Another Minnesota high-schooler, Biondi was the next pick from Montreal in round four. He struggled with the step up to the USHL and at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, but with Hermantown he rounded back into form and showed that he had worked hard on fixing some of his exposed flaws. He was slated to rejoin Sioux Falls in the USHL before the season was cancelled due to the pandemic, so it’s unclear how he would have fared with the step up in competition. Playing a north-south, power style of hockey is when Biondi is at his best. When he’s rolling out on the ice, he’s extremely difficult to separate from the puck.
Just like Jack Smith, it’s expected that Biondi will join the Bulldogs at Minnesota-Duluth when their season begins. Despite being a centre when drafted, he may begin his NCAA career as a winger until he adjusts fully to the league.
Round Four, 123rd overall selection: Sean Farrell
Follow Sean on Twitter: @seanfarrell_21
After making some picks that were concerningly a bit off the board, the Canadiens managed a real steal when they grabbed Harvard commit Sean Farrell with the last pick of the round. Farrell led the USHL in assists this past year as part of a powerhouse Chicago Steel team, and was a huge driver while playing alongside the 29th players taken in 2020, Brendan Brisson.
His role is most certainly a playmaker, able to manipulate defenders in all directions to open up lanes for passes to his linemates. A solid enough skater, Farrell gets around the ice and out of tough spots fairly easily, while also keeping plays alive in the offensive zone. While he could stand to be a bit more selfish and shoot the puck more, Farrell should still be able to compile a strong NCAA showing with his playmaking talents.
Round Five, 135th overall selection: Jakub Dobes
Follow Jakub on Twitter: @JakubDobe2
Perhaps the most surprising selection of the day for Montreal is them grabbing a 6’4” goaltender from the USHL in Jakub Dobes, who is set to join Ohio State in the near future. In the NAHL and for the Czech Republic in the World Jr. A Challenge, Dobes put together a strong showing, then wrested the starting job away from Omaha’s starting goalie to end the year.
Dobes as a whole is a bit raw as a goalie, suffering from not having a ton of high-level hockey experience before joining the North American ranks. He has plenty of athleticism to work with, now he needs to work on refining his talents across the board to make the most use of his tremendous size between the pipes. He is committed to Ohio State, but it’s highly likely that Dobes will stay another year in the USHL to continue his development.
Round Six, 170th overall selection: Alexander Gordin
After seemingly ignoring Europe for most of the draft, the Canadiens finally dipped into the other side of the pond, selecting Russian winger Alexander Gordin. Standing 6’1” and at 194 pounds, Gordin was the second-best goal-scorer in Russia’s Junior league, the MHL. Despite playing on a stacked SKA-1946 Saint Petersburg club, he stood head and shoulders above his teammates in terms of scoring.
Even with an imposing frame, he plays a style that focuses on rolling off of opponents instead of driving through them to the net. He’s very good at using his body to misdirect opponents and get close to the net to utilize his backhand. He’s very good on his edges to make this work, and with his talents he made the jump to the VHL for 2020-21, with a debut in the KHL as well.
There you have it, all eight prospects the Montreal Canadiens selected during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. The Habs clearly found players with the physical edge they liked in players like Guhle and Tuch, while snapping up highly skilled players who slipped down the board like Farrell and Mysak. In the later rounds they took a jump on some bigger-name high-school options, and a star from one of Russia’s biggest Junior teams.
Drafts are not won or lost right away, and now the attention shifts to where these players may play this season, another wrinkle in one of the weirdest hockey years we’ve seen.