Montreal Canadiens General Manager Kent Hughes is looking to deal, with his eyes set firmly on the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft.
Taking some time to talk about the latest ongoings with Martineau, Hughes admitted that he was taking calls for potential trades as early as that very day, while in his car on the way to Boston.
“I’ve had conversations in the car today. We’re are at the quarter-mark of the season after all, “said Hughes about how active he remains on the trade front. “All the clubs are starting to make calls to inform themselves on the availability of certain players.”
The Montreal Canadiens GM hasn’t wavered in the slightest when it comes to his end game this season; he wants to capitalize on what is supposed to be a rather deep draft in 2023. Already owning two first round picks, their own and that of the Florida Panthers via the Ben Chiarot trade, Hughes would like to add another 1st round pick before the end of the season, as he feels this is the kind of draft that could set the Canadiens on the right path.
“Ideally, yes,” said Hughes when asked about his desire to acquire a third 1st round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. “We have some good youngsters within the organization and it would be important to get our hands on some quality assets that will be able to keep up with them in the future.”
Although Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov seem to be the talk of the draft, for now, there is a strong contingent of talent all the way through the 1st round of this upcoming draft, and Hughes believes that one more strong haul of talented youngsters could put the Canadiens on the path to contending down the line. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield were picked outside the top 10, after all; so it’s a matter of having options and that’s exactly what Hughes is looking for.
“I’ve never fixed an exact time when I believe we could start competing for the Cup,” said Hughes about being flexible. “For example, it wasn’t in the cards for us to acquire a player like Sean Monahan in June and to get a 1st round pick for it. Things change so fast in hockey.”
That being said, Hughes isn’t looking to rush the process any more than he needs to. He wants to do this the right way the first time, and ensure the Montreal Canadiens have all the right elements to be competitive on a consistent basis.
“We’re going to do this as quickly as we can, but we want to be patient and make smart decisions. We don’t want to make a decision that could hurt the future of the team,” said Hughes, confirming that his eye is most certainly on the future of this team.
That mentality might lead to some difficult decisions with Monahan and Joel Edmundson down the line, as both players are extremely popular right now.
Nonetheless, Hughes remains focused on the future, and, with proper planning and sound strategy, it could end up being the brightest that this franchise has seen in quite some time.