The NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its mid-season rankings today, giving Montreal Canadiens fans a better idea of the type of player they’re likely to welcome to the team this summer.
It comes as no surprise that phenom Connor Bedard tops the North American skater list, powered by a fantastic showing at the 2023 World Junior Championship that broke several Canadian records.
In just 29 games with the Regina Pats this season, Bedard has scored 31 goals and 39 assists, 20 more than his closest teammate, who happens to have played 10 additional games.
The 17-year-old is the epitome of a franchise-altering player, which explains why so many teams have taken steps to improve their odds of drafting the next great talent available in the Draft.
Following Bedard is Adam Fantelli, who currently leads the University of Michigan (NCAA) in scoring with 11 goals and 15 assists in just 16 games.
Rounding out the top 3 North American skaters is yet another talented forward, Will Smith, who is scoring over 1.6 points per game in the USHL, one of the best scoring rates in recent league history.
The first defenceman to grace the list is Lukas Dragicevic, connoting that the Canadiens, who are likely to own one or two very good draft picks, will probably look to the forward pool if they choose to select a North American skater.
As for International skaters, there is one defenceman among the top 5, Axel Sandin Pellikka, but much like the North American list, the most talented players happen to be forwards, particularly Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michikov.
As it stands, the Canadiens have 2 first-round picks at the upcoming Draft, their own and the Florida Panthers’.
Their own pick currently holds a 7.5 percent chance of becoming the first-overall pick, as well as a 7.9 percent chance of giving the Habs the second-overall pick.
Thanks to a difficult start to the season and just four wins in their last 10 games, the Panthers’ pick continues to gain value. There’s a 5 percent chance it lands the first overall pick and a 5.4 percent chance it will become the second-overall pick.
The picks have individual odds, but for a rough calculation, we can simply add them up to get an idea of the Canadiens’ odds of drafting first, and right now, the numbers are looking pretty good, with a 12.5 percent chance of drafting first, and a 13.3 percent chance of drafting second, as shown by Tankathon.com
It’s also worth remembering the Canadiens have the most difficult strength of schedule in the NHL for the remainder of the season, which could lead to even better odds, especially once the Canadiens shed some talent at the trade deadline.
The Canadiens do not have the best draft odds at the moment, but given their current form and the weak defenceman prospect pool available at the 2023 Draft, it’s starting to become clear the team should have an opportunity to put their hands on an excellent forward or two.