Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes categorically shot down a rumour that the Canadiens won’t be considering any Russian players leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft.
While on a media call during the NHL Combine, Hughes was immediately asked whether or not the was any validity to the rumours suggesting he would not consider any Russian-born players as selections for the NHL Draft.
“No. No, we haven’t discussed anything regarding Russian players,” said Hughes when asked about the rumours. “In fact, we just met with one this morning.”
Hughes was firm and adamant that there was no truth to the situation and was candid in admitting that the Canadiens were not only considering Russian players, they were also interviewing them during the NHL Combine in Buffalo.
Le directeur général des Canadiens, Kent Hughes, s'adresse aux médias via Zoom en direct de Buffalo.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) May 31, 2022
The rumour was initially reported by Ivan Bogun of Sport Express, a sporting news outlet out of Russia, which claimed that the Philadelphia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens had taken the decision not to draft any Russian players come July 7 and 8. Many within the scouting community are worried that any further escalation in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine could lead to tougher sanctions down the line, including the outright refusal of work visas for Russian workers in Canada and the United States, which directly impacts hockey players.
In consequence, many Russian players have dropped in NHL Draft Rankings across the board, due primarily to the risk of not being able to have these players make the trip to North America to help their respective clubs if drafted. Furthermore, the Canadian Hockey League has barred Russian players from being selected during this year’s CHL Import Draft, inhibiting young Russian players from playing in Canadian major junior like so many have done before. There is certainly a risk factor when looking into these talented players with tricky situations, but the Montreal Canadiens and Hughes have made it clear that it’s not impeding them from doing their due diligence on all eligible players, regardless of their homeland.
— Russian Prospects (@RUSProspects) May 31, 2022