Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is far from done tinkering with his roster and is looking to add prospects and most notably another 2023 1st round pick before the end of the season.
In a recent interview with the Athletic‘s Marc-Antoine Godin, Hughes spoke candidly about his goals for the upcoming season.
Without following the full-on tank model of the Arizona Coyotes or the Chicago Blackhawks, Hughes wants to continue the roster turnover he started last spring and continue moving veterans for futures down the line.
Hughes has been eager to make moves since he began to gain some clarity on his cap situation this summer with the news on Carey Price’s health, and now, most recently, with Paul Byron’s health.
That flexibility has already been weaponized with the acquisition of Sean Monahan that also brought in an extra 1st round pick; but Hughes is far from done.
“We’ll make moves here. We could do it in October, we could do it in January, we’ll do it at the trade deadline, but we’ll make moves, generally speaking, and those moves are going to be to acquire either prospects or picks again,” said Hughes to Godin. “We have two first-round picks. In a perfect world, we end up with three first-round picks. And then we use that collateral to see what we can do in terms of moving up to have higher picks or whatever, depending on what we see at the draft.”
Hughes’ desire to add yet another 1st round pick comes at the best possible moment, with the 2023 NHL Draft upcoming. This upcoming class boasts a top-10 that could arguably rival that of any draft in the last 15 years at this rate, with Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov, Adam Fantilli, Dalibor Dvorsky, Zachary Benson, Leo Carlsson, Brayden Yager and more to chose from. The Canadiens might not finish last again next season, as the Chicago Blackhawks seem to be doing everything in their power to achieve this with their current offseason, but they may have a real shot at one of the prospects above, and that would be a game changer.
This next season is also one where the Canadiens have stated multiple times that they’d like to approach with a focus on player development. If the Canadiens maintain course and are unable to improve the team, expectations will not be extremely high for the club, and that may be a perfect time to help youngsters like Kaiden Guhle or Juraj Slafkovsky get their feet wet in the NHL. It also offers youngsters that have already played in the NHL like Cole Caufield, Jordan Harris and Justin Barron to gain experience and develop further in a much less stressful environment; a luxury prospects haven’t had in Montreal in quite some time.