Did the Montreal Canadiens dodge a bullet by not giving up a 2nd round pick for Jack McBain before the NHL Trade Deadline?
The Arizona Coyotes paid a high price to acquire the rights of the 22-year-old forward by sacrificing Vancouver’s 2nd round pick. The Minnesota Wild, who initially selected McBain in the 3rd round pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, could not come to an agreement with the NCAA senior on an entry-level contract. In order to get ahead of this situation, general manager Bill Guerin wanted to recoup an asset not to lose his much-hyped prospect for nothing this summer. Despite not dealing from a position of strength, the Wild were able to get a 2nd round pick for a player with clear-cut NHL potential, but questionable upside.
Some may be disappointed with the lack of movement on this subject, despite TSN Insider Darren Dreger confirming Montreal’s interest in McBain, but the value and the fit were simply not suitable for the Canadiens.
Not a Fit
At this junction, the Canadiens have a plethora of up-and-coming middle-six prospects like Ryan Poehling, Jan Mysak, Riley Kidney and more coming up through the pipeline, and giving up a 2nd round pick simply didn’t make sense for a player that would ultimately bring more of the same, outside of his towering size. The 6’4 centre out of Boston College had three mediocre seasons before his breakout year in 2021-2022, due in large part to the limitations in his skating, which are still going to be problematic for him at the NHL level. With the Canadiens looking to focus on speed and skill as a team style moving forward, McBain didn’t really fit the mould.
McBain also likely wanted to choose the spot that would allow him to fast-track his way to an NHL top-9 role in the immediate future, and the Canadiens were unlikely to be able to give it to him right off the bat, with Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans currently occupying the top-9 centre roles. It’s easy to understand why Arizona would pay this price, as they will have difficulty attracting free agents to fill their lineup in the coming years. The Coyotes also had five second-round picks before this trade, so spending one of them on a player with similar potential to a late 2nd round pick was a safe bet for them.
Too High A Price
The Montreal Canadiens did well not to give up their own 2nd round pick in this upcoming draft, as their pick is likely to be a very early pick in that round, unlike Vancouver’s. The player the Canadiens are likely to select at the junction will have borderline 1st round talent, and the pick could also be packaged to move up in the Draft, being in Montreal, to select an even better player. Simply put, the Canadiens could not afford to give up that pick for anything less than a sure thing.
The Canadiens’ should not be buyers at the NHL Trade Deadline and would be better off stockpiling picks and prospects through the trading of veterans, rather than sacrificing precious draft capital. With the 20-to-40 range of the upcoming 2022 draft looking more attractive every week, it’s understandable that the Canadiens didn’t pay Guerin’s price for McBain, and they did well not to get caught in a bidding war leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.