The Montreal Canadiens have two of the top players from the 2019 NHL Draft, but they may actually have three of them with Arber Xhekaj also being a 2001-born player.
The 2019 NHL Draft class featured an historic class from the United States Development Program (USNDT), as Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte, Cam York, Cole Caufield, Spencer Knight, Matt Boldy and John Beecher all going in the 1st-round.
The New Jersey Devils didn’t miss their mark when they selected Jack Hughes at 1st overall. There was some debate as to having Kappo Kakko, who broke the U-20 scoring record that year in Finland, challenge for the top spot, but the New Jersey Devils were never in doubt.
Probably the biggest shocker of the 2019 NHL Draft was when Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman called out Moritz Seider’s name at 6th overall. The German defenceman was rocketing up the rankings due to a strong performance at the World Championships, but nobody thought he’d go that high. How smart does that decision look today?
The same could be said about the Anaheim Ducks jumping on Trevor Zegras at 9th overall, a player that fell due to concerns over his size; a theme that didn’t just benefit the Ducks.
Cole Caufield falling to 15th overall was perhaps the best bit of luck the Canadiens had had in the entire decade of the 2010s, as he had the top-line talent to be a top-five pick, but size always remained an issue.
Kirby Dach was perhaps picked a little too high at 3rd overall, but remains one of the ten best players in his draft class and has turned his career around in Montreal. The talent is undeniable and his development this season has him in favourable standing over players selected near him like Kakko or Philip Broberg or Alex Turcotte.
Meanwhile, the biggest surprise of all during this exercise is that Arber Xhekaj was eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. He obviously went undrafted and was signed to an entry-level deal in the fall of 2021, but, knowing what we do today, he would most certainly have been drafted in 2019; but how high?
Compared to other 1st-round talents in this draft, Xhekaj is trending rather favourably and he continues to improve his offensive game. Couple that with his on-ice persona and the value of his Sherrif-like role for the Montreal Canadiens, and Xhekaj becomes a special player that teams usually spend a very high pick to acquire.
See the complete 1st-round NHL Re-Draft list below and tell us what you think.