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Canadiens Looking To Acquire Prospects At Key Positions

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are focused on making the most of the 2023 NHL Draft, but they’re actively studying the availability of top prospects to help fill some big organizational holes.

General Manager Kent Hughes and EVP Jeff Gorton have had the better part of a year to assess what the Canadiens are missing to become contenders down the line.

Last season, Hughes saw fit to acquire right-shot defenceman Justin Barron in a trade for Arturri Lehkonen and a big centre in Kirby Dach in a three-way with the Islanders and Blackhawks.

Acquiring many 1st-round picks is exciting for the fanbase, but when Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are already hitting their strides, you would to acquire assets closer to their age group.

Montreal Hockey Now has learned that, although the Canadiens do seem intent on acquiring a third 1st-round pick, their priority going into the 2nd half of this season is to acquire near NHL-ready prospects to prepare for what will be a big “step up” season next year.

Rightie, Tighty

The first order of business would be to acquire another right-shot defenceman, capable of playing as soon as next season, on the Canadiens’ blue line, first and foremost.

The Canadiens have seen some great development from their young defencemen this year in the NHL, but they’re all left-handed defencemen outside of Jonathan Kovacevic.

With Justin Barron progressing nicely in Laval, he may have a role with the Canadiens next season, but the plan is to look into young, right-shot defencemen leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline and into the summer. Should they fail to uncover any however, the Canadiens there are a few right-shot defencemen available in the 1st round of the 2023 NHL Draft like Axel Sandin-Pellika or Lukas Dragicevic.

Jeff Gorton has been vocal about shoring up his defence, which was his trademark with the New York Rangers, as he added Adam Fox, and Jacob Trouba via trade; while drafting K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Braden Schneider and more as GM.

Netminder’s Pathfinder

The Montreal Canadiens are looking to address their goaltending future, with some young goaltenders across the league as potential targets.

Cayden Primeau has unfortunately been unable to put up consistent performances so far this season, which will prompt the Canadiens to look elsewhere to determine the future of such a vital position. The Canadiens bought themselves a little time by extending Jake Allen for an extra two years, but they’ll need to have a successor in place and ready to take No. 1 duties before then.

Montreal Hockey Now released a list of potential trade targets, including Buffalo’s Devon Levi, whom Hughes is very familiar with, as he currently plays with Hughes’ son at Northeastern University alongside fellow Canadiens prospect Jayden Struble.

On the flipside, in case the Canadiens aren’t able to get a true successfor via trade, if they do acquire another 1st-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, there are a few goalies that are pushing to get picked between the 25 to 40 rank in this deep class.

Goaltenders like Michael Hrabal of the USHL or Scott Ratzlaff of the WHL are pushing for a place in the 1st round with solid performances in their respective leagues.

It’s been 18 years since the Canadiens spent a 1st-round pick on a goaltender (Carey Price), and they could use a newly acquired late 1st-round pick to address the position, once and for all.

Five Canadiens Trade Targets To Address Future Of Goaltending

Goals, Goals Goals

Last season, the Canadiens focused primarily on acquiring draft picks and including prospects with interesting potential, but nothing top-end outside of Justin Barron.

This season, it may very-well be the other way around. The Canadiens have a couple of trade chips yet again, and could look at bolstering the skill at forward at this time.

Once the NHL Trade Deadline comes and passes, the Canadiens will have some holes in their lineup, akin to last season after trading Lehkonen, Brett Kulak, Tyler Toffoli and Ben Chiarot. It could provide some newly acquired prospects the time and space to come in and get their feet wet with the Canadiens in a kind of test drive, prior to the start of next season.

With the way the Canadiens’ prospect pool is set up now, there’s a major need for top-end talent. They did a good job in adding some of that in the 2022 NHL Draft, but they’ve identified prospects, like a Xavier Bourgault in Edmonton, that could fit the bill in adding some scoring punch to their ranks.

As it stands right now, Cole Caufield is the organization’s purest goal scorer, but the projection isn’t necessarily high on the rest of the prospect pool or the immediate future for the Canadiens. Juraj Slafkovsky may likely become an interesting goal-scorer, with Filip Mesar also being a good bet, but, to properly fill out their top-six and continue funneling in prospects over the next few years, they’re going to need reimforcements in this category.

Based on what Montreal Hockey Now has heard, the Canadiens are hard at work evaluating all opportunities right now, be it draft pick or prospect, as they continue to evaluate and rank the organization’s biggest needs.

That being said, one can expect some movement on this front as we head into January, with the Canadiens seeing a significant uptick in trade interest from rival teams.

Very Early MHN 2023 NHL Draft Rankings

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Pierre B.

Righty: There are 4 RHD that could be available to draft with the Florida 2023 first-round draft pick: Cameron Allen and David Reinbacher should also have been mentioned.

Goals: The CH is likely to get a pick in the top-10. Obviously, lottery luck could yield Bedard or Fantilli, a center who would challenge Suzuki on the top line. Several other centers with top-6 potential will be available such as Carlsson, Smith, Benson, Dvorsky, Yager. There is also an exceptional goalscoring RW, Michkov, who could be available much later than expected because of his KHL contract and Russian nationality.

It is a safe bet to assume that Caufield-Suzuki-Dach, Slakovsky and 2023 MTL first-round pick will constitute 5 of the top-6 forwards in a few years. It’s hard to believe that none of Beck, Mesar, Farrell, Roy, Heineman will complete this line. I do not see a need to snatch Bourgault from Edmonton. I would feel much more reassured if Hughes focuses on RHD prospects before the trade deadline.

The off-season would be better to look for a starting goalie. I would prefer that Hughes targets proven NHL goalies. Teams with backup goalies that are ready to take over the starting role may be convinced to part with one of their goalies for the right price before one of them becomes unhappy.

Dave

I’m hoping for a top 3 or top 5 pick from Florida(maybe win first pick via lottery) and Montreal could fall in the same range unless they go on a serious win streak. That would set us up with Elite offence for more than a decade. I’d trade players who aren’t part of the future for top end rhd prospects that are at least 19 or 20.

Also, get whatever they can for our ufas and try to move Hoffman then Armia then Dvorak. Only for Dvorak I expect an above average return.

If we trade Anderson, that’s where I would expect that top end rhd prospect to come in a trade. If they can get that in a edmundson trade, even better. Between these 2 players, if we get a young top end D prospect and a impact forward, would be great. I could see drouin return at a home town discount on a one year or two year deal if some of our forwards are traded.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Justmyopinion

A lot I agree with but not Drouin..nice guy but has a penchant for being injured or absent so realistically , get what you can and move on.

Dave

At this point , might as well sign him at discount. Unless we clearly can sign or trade for an impact player. He definitely has had bad luck with injury. That has been unfortunate. He needs some good luck. I see him fitting in nicely with McKinnon if we let him go.

philippe Ouimet

spent a little time in Regina so my son in law took me to see the Pats there is not one but two outstanding players # 91 & # 98 Connor Bédard who at 17 yrs is simply electrifying & he has voiced his desire to play for the CH & I’m a believer !!! got my fingers crossed that the CH management don’t pass on these guys

Darryl

No team on the planet would pass on Bedard.

Pierre B.

Regina Pats #91 is Alexander Suzdalev, a prospect drafted by the Washington Capitals, in 2022 NHL entry draft (round 3, 70 overall). He’s the third best scorer on the Pats with 20G, 44P in 32 GP.

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