The Battle of Alberta will be influential in deciding where two of the Montreal Canadiens’ most valuable draft picks are set to rank for the 2022 NHL Draft.
The Calgary Flames’ 2022 1st round pick and the Edmonton Oilers’ 2022 2nd round pick are both in play, and the outcome of tonight’s game could determine the trajectory of where both picks fall come July 7 and 8 in Montreal.
Calgary’s 1st Round Pick
The 2022 1st round pick that the Montreal Canadiens acquired from the Calgary Flames in the Tyler Toffoli deal earlier this year is not yet finalized. The Flames’ playoff outcome is directly tied to the rank of their 1st round pick, and, should things continue the way they’re going, it may be an earlier pick than previously thought.
Calgary is facing elimination the rest of the way in the Battle of Alberta, as they currently trail in the series 3-1. If they were to be eliminated tonight, the latest that pick could be is 27th overall, as the Florida Panthers are now guaranteed to pick 28th after being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning. That’s because the last four picks in the Draft (32 to 29) are given to the final four teams left in the playoffs, while eliminated divisional champions like Florida and potentially Calgary would pick immediately after (picks 28 to 25).
The Flames are among four divisional champions that include the Florida Panthers (122 points), the Colorado Avalanche (119 points) and the Carolina Hurricanes (116 points). If any of these teams fail to make it to the Conference Finals, the Flames’ 1st round pick would become an even earlier selection, as Calgary had the lowest point totals of any divisional champion. As of this junction, should Calgary lose tonight and the Hurricanes/Avalanche prevail in their series, the Flames’ 1st rounder would land at the 27th overall rank as seen below:
- 32nd overall: Stanley Cup Champion
- 31st overall: Runner-Up
- 30th overall: Conference Final Loser With Most Points
- 29th overall: Conference Final Loser With Least Points
- 28th overall: Divisional Champion With Most Points (Florida in this case)
- 27th overall: Divisional Champion With 2nd most points (Calgary in this case).
Should the St. Louis Blues or New York Rangers complete their comebacks and take their series, the Calgary Flames pick has the potential to drop to 26th overall if one of Colorado or Carolina loses. Should both series result in triumphant comebacks from the Blues and Rangers, the pick would then jump to 25th overall.
The Oilers’ 2nd Round Pick
When the Montreal Canadiens initially traded Brett Kulak at the NHL Trade Deadline, it took a while for the two teams to formally announce the trade after NHL insiders broke it. The reason for that was to set the proper language in stone on the trade for the Oilers to honour a previous condition they included in an earlier trade made in the summer of 2021.
On July 12, the Oilers sent defenceman Caleb Jones and a conditional 3rd round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for veteran defenceman Ducan Keith and winger Tim Söderlund. The condition in that trade, and why this matters for Montreal, revolves around the Oilers’ playoff success and Keith’s implication in said success. The condition states that the Oilers would send a 2nd round pick in 2022, instead of a 3rd round pick, should they reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2022 and for Keith to be one of the top-4 most used defencemen (time on ice) during that run.
The Oilers could move on to the Conference Finals tonight and Duncan Keith is currently the third most-used defenceman on the roster at this junction. Should the Oilers continue rolling thanks to the impressive play of Connor McDavid and co., there is a chance that the condition on the Keith trade kicks in and the 2022 2nd round pick transfers to Chicago instead of Montreal. In the event that the conditions in the Keith trade are met, the Montreal Canadiens will be sent the Oilers’ 2nd round pick in 2023. Although it may seem like a loss at the moment, this could turn out to be a better value for the Canadiens down the line.
If the Oilers reach the Conference Finals, their 2nd round pick will range between 61st and 64th overall and, if they reach the Stanley Cup Finals, their second-round pick would be either 63rd or 64th overall. If the Oilers do the improbable and reach the Stanley Cup Finals. the pick transfers to the 2023 Draft, which could be a benefit for the Canadiens at that point. It’s not likely that the Oilers would repeat another run to the Finals next season, meaning their 2023 2nd round pick would almost certainly be a higher rank next draft than this draft.
In any case, there’s still lots of hockey to be played, but you can rest assured that general manager Kent Hughes is paying attention to the Battle of Alberta this spring as he prepares for the 2022 NHL Draft.