The wait is over for the Montreal Canadiens and general manager Kent Hughes, as the Montreal Canadiens will be picking 1st overall at the 2022 NHL Draft.
The Canadiens walked into the NHL Draft Lottery with an 18.5% chance of winning the lottery and won the 1st overall pick straight up, without the assistance of any other outcome. It was an anxious and nerve-wracking process for Hughes.
“It was a special moment for us,” said Hughes. “You sit there waiting for something you have no control over, making for a more anxious situation. We’re really excited.”
Hughes spoke at length on how landing the first overall pick will allow the Canadiens to walk into the 2022 NHL Draft and select a player that will help them continue to redefine the culture in Montreal. Hughes believes that, on top of youngsters like Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield, being able to bring in a player of immense skill and character will be a huge addition for the Canadiens for years to come.
“If we want to establish that new culture that we’ve brought up so often since the arrival of Jeff and myself, it’s important to select players with a lot of talent; but also players with great character,” said Hughes on his selection process. “Leaders, team players, I think those are extremely important for us to build a team that’s capable of winning.”
With comparisons swirling regarding projected 1st-overall pick Shane Wright and former client Patrice Bergeron, Hughes was quick to praise the Boston centerman and sent some praise toward Wright, whom he’s watched for a few years now.
“If we’re lucky enough to draft a player that will have the same impact on the Montreal Canadiens that Patrice had on the Boston Bruins, we’d be extremely happy,” said Hughes on the Wright-Bergeron comparisons. “ I don’t know Shane Wright the individual and I’m excited to meet him in Buffalo for the NHL Draft Combine. I’ve watched him play for years. He’s a 200-foot player. He’s not only focused on the offensive, but the defensive side of the game and he’s a team player as well.”
Hughes continue to stress that the scouting wasn’t yet complete, but that he was very much looking forward to taking the first big step toward making the Canadiens a championship-calibre team on Day 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft.