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Canadiens 2023 Draft Targets Impress At Top Prospects Game



Canadiens potential draft targets. Habs news

The Montreal Canadiens got a good look at some of the top options likely to be available to them at the 2023 NHL Draft at this year’s CHL Top Prospects Game.

The top players in the CHL eligible for the considerably deep 2023 NHL Draft were gathered for one night in Vancouver for the annual CHL Top Prospects game.

With the Canadiens in the bottom 10 of the NHL Standings, a plethora of their potential targets in the top ten of this summer’s draft were on full display. Unfortunately, prospects Andrew Cristall and Quentin Musty were not available due to injury.

Obviously, all eyes were on Connor Bedard, who continued to look exceptional but didn’t register a point in the game.

However, players like Zach Benson, Colby Barlow and Brayden Yager all figured prominently in this game and could be realistic options for the Canadiens with either of their 1st-round picks.

Here’s an overview below:

Colby Barlow

Captain of Team White, Colby Barlow showed his overall efficacy in a game.

He uses his big frame (6’1, 190lbs) to his advantage, just as he did around the net. He’s been extremely effective in the cycle game so far this season with the Owen Sound Attack, but he showed more of his skill down low in Wednesday’s top prospects game.

Currently one of the top scorers in the OHL with 33 goals and 27 assists for 60 points in just 40 games, Barlow has been rocketing up the rankings as of late, with Bob McKenzie including him at 8th overall on his list.

Barlow has the combination of size, shooting prowess and toughness that could make a real difference in an NHL top six that needs some prime goal-scoring ability.

Brayden Yager

Brayden Yager fell off on many public draft lists this season due to a slower-than-expected start to his season with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but that changed in a hurry.

The 6′ 170lbs centreman has upped his play as of late with the Warriors and is playing a more dangerous game as of late.

He possesses a really impressive wrist shot, one that allowed him to score five goals in five games for Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament this summer en route to a gold medal for Canada.

He played on a line with fellow potential top-10 pick, Colby Barlow, and the two found each other with great ease on the ice.

Yager isn’t the type of player to crack under pressure, and is very effective at making discretely effective plays, especially down low.

One could expect a strong second half of the season for Yager, as he looks to prove his doubters wrong and cement his place in the top 10 of the 2023 NHL Draft.

Zach Benson

Zach Benson has been an absolute force for the Winnipeg Ice; and that’s not just this season.

After leading them in points last year in the 2022 WHL playoffs, Benson picked up right where he left off; posting 25 goals and 40 assists for 65 points in just 38 games.

The diminutive winger has been compared to the likes of Patrick Kane by TSN’s Craig Button in a recent interview with Montreal Hockey Now, and it’s easy to see why.

Benson not only processes the game with elite speed, but he’s able to execute plays at a very quick rate; making him very difficult to defend against.

Primarily a top-end playmaker, because of his high Hockey IQ and excellent vision; Benson is also able to hurt teams with his very deceptive wrist-shot.

Benson trails only Connor Bedard in WHL scoring this season and is a shoo-in at this point to come out within the ten first picks of the 2023 NHL Draft, if not the first five.

What About The Rest?

Well, if the Canadiens are able to get a third 1st-round pick before the 2023 NHL Draft, there are a few players that stood out Wednesday night that could be of interest.

Firstly, Carson Rehkopf has been gaining momentum as of late.

Teammate of Filip Mesar with the Kitchener Rangers, Rehkopf hahadas a respectable season offensively, posting 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points in 40 games.

Playing in a more open, talent-focused games, Rehkopf showed his speed in transition and his shooting ability for the world to see.

He’s always been dangerous when the puck is on his stick, and he showed it tonight; buzzing around the offensive zone and driving to the net.

He could very well be a 1st-round pick come June, but, if not, he’ll make for a very valuable second round pick.

Gracyn Sawchyn kind of gets lost in the shuffle when you look at how deep the Seattle Thunderbirds are in the WHL.

However, his stock is most certainly on the rise of late, and you saw it in it’s prime last night.

He was aggressive, quick on his skates and make great passes to his linemates that would normally have resulted in goals.

Despite not getting prime minutes on a contending Thunderbirds squad, which includes Canadiens prospect Jared Davidson, Sawchyn has still managed to put up 13 goals and 31 assists for 44 points in 41 games.

He could be one of those darkhorse players that could squeak his way into a 1st-round selection, or be a very underrated pick in the first half of the second round.

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Habs finishing bottom 5 and winning the first pick.

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