The Montreal Canadiens added eight new prospects to the pool at the 2020 NHL Draft. The following is a grade of each selection made.
Kaiden Guhle, D
A big strong defender that skates well and can deliver the puck with ease to an attacking forward. His defensive strength is not something that anyone should second guess, he will deliver big hits on the blue line and his big frame will be tough to by-pass. He also fits right in with the competitiveness that Marc Bergevin appreciates. You build a team from the back end and when you add Guhle to the list of Weber, Petry, Romanov and the prospects of Norlinder, Struble and Brook it will be a terrible defence to play against.
“The main concern is with his hockey sense. He can anticipate the play to the degree necessary to find the first option when it’s presented clearly in front of him, but he sometimes lacks the poise and processing ability to recognize what options could be available if he held the puck slightly longer than what seems to be his current comfort zone.” - Hockey Prospect 2020 Draft Black Book
This is something that I find concerning, but as I am a firm believer of Djurgårdens coach Robert Olhsson’s words that you can teach hockey sense, it only lowers the grade from an A- to a...
Luke Tuch, LW
I don’t like when a player is described “with a mean streak.” However, he is a big power forward, that can compete hard - when he wants. He can score from in close, with average skating. It seems a bit like another version of a Tomas Homström, and with average skating it can be a better version. Still there were other players that were available that could have been taken; Theodor Niederbach is one as an example.
The jury will be out for a few years, but for me this isn’t the best pick at the time being.
Jan Mysak, C/W
The Czechs are still undecided if he is a centre or a winger. During the summer he was running the first unit power play for the U20’s National team - but it didn’t go to well as he didn’t command the situation to the degree that was expected.
There is some creativity in his game but maybe not enough to run a power play unit on that level. He projects to be more of a rush player with a good shot. He is a hard working player but the question is if he can play centre among the professional ranks. He is a centre in the U20’s but I presume that is more down to tactical reasons rather than actual skill, and Montreal shouldn’t be surprised if Mysak ends up as a winger.
He was most certainly the one of the best players available, but again the uncertainty of the his skill and potential position in the future I am hesitant in my grade.
Jack Smith, C
Solid two way forward, I would expect him to reach the pros, but it feels more like a safe pick than any of the others in the later rounds.
Blake Biondi, C
Montreal went back to high school for the third year in a row, and both Jayden Struble and Jordan Harris seem like good picks so far, and found an interesting player. He has high skill and he can beat any opponent when he wants. He lacks some skating but with hard work he can get better in that area. What bothers me is the “on and off” button he seems to have, when he is on he really is on, but on the off days he is a completely different player. However, I do like the swing for the fences kind of approach this late in the draft.
Sean Farrell, C
A US National development team player that Cole Caufield likes. Farrell operates with speed and control and can hit players in full stride. He uses his hockey IQ all over the ice in order to create opportunities for himself, and his teammates. He can play on the penalty kill, however he is 5’9’’ and he will need to prove a lot of coaches wrong in order to reach the upper tier of the hockey world, the good thing is that he will have a lot of time to do it.
At this time of the draft it is my belief that you should go for skilled players and I do like this pick.
Jakub Dobes, G
With the goalie pipeline that Montreal has, I am curious about this selection, however you’d rather have too many goalies than too few and as goalies are hard to predict at this early age I can see the idea behind the pick of this keeper. Montreal once more went for size, much as they did last year with Frederik Dichow. The same problems seem to translate into Dobes game: lateral movement.
Alexander Gordin, RW
A big Russian forward playing for one of the best teams outside the NHL, okay only one game but still. He is an over ager with a great shot that he can use from a bit of a distance. Interestingly he does not possess the same kind of skating that you’d normally associate with players out of Russia.
The SKA development team has taken big steps the last few years and they are slowly incorporating more young players into the line up, and while he is a few years away there are few places that are better for the development than SKA St Petersburg in Russia. I like this pick, a swing for the fences on a Russian that can score. I think this could be one of the gems in this year’s draft class and I rate him highly.
The move to gain more picks for next year’s draft that could be held in Centre Bell is something I rate highly, especially as it seems that the Montreal Draft team didn’t like the players that were on the board. In that case, it is smarter to save picks and spread out any entry level contracts that could come from this class.
Overall, I grade the Montreal 2020 draft a B- , but we will have to wait and see a few years before we can grade it properly.