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Canadiens Mailbag: Habs Draft Targets, Edmundson Trade, Dubois



Montreal Canadiens scouts

Montreal Canadiens Mailbag

Welcome back to another edition of the Montreal Canadiens Mailbag!

This week we discuss Habs prospects, the Canadiens targets for the the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Habs’ biggest organizational need, and much more.

If you’d like to have your question answered in the next mailbag, make sure to drop it in the comments below the article.


Habs Prospects

To be honest, I think none of them make the NHL roster next season.

The reasoning is simple, the only spots that are likely to be available will be on the team’s fourth lines.

They will already have graduated players vying for those spots in Jesse Ylönen and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, and even they might not have an inside track on those spots if the Canadiens stand pat at forward.

The likes of Joshua Roy, Riley Kidney, Sean Farrell, Jayden Struble, and more should all head over to the Laval Rocket next season for some much-needed development.

It will likely be the most prospect-filled roster a Canadiens AHL affiliate has had in almost a decade, and that’s a fantastic problem to have.

The only prospect I could see truly surprising out of the gate would be Emil Heineman, given his existing pro experience in Sweden and his torrid scoring pace in the AHL.

But again, the Canadiens have ten forwards signed on for next season, not including Cole Caufield, Jesse Ylönen, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard or Michael Pezzetta.

Moves will have to be made this summer, as the Canadiens simply cannot go into next season with 16 forwards yet again.

Joel Edmundson Trade

I firmly believe that Joel Edmundson will be traded this summer, be it at the draft or after free agency.

The Canadiens tried to move him at the NHL Trade Deadline, but Edmundson’s health at the time worried a few prospective teams and prices on rentals tanked just as Edmundson returned to play.

The Montreal Canadiens simply have too much depth on the left side of their defence, with Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj and Jordan Harris emerging as NHL defencemen this season.

Couple that with the burgeoning of Mike Matheson’s game and seeing him take on the role of No.1 defence, there’s simply too many cooks.

It’s the right time to move on from Edmundson, and with the veteran finishing out the season healthy for the Canadiens, it’s bound to calm the concerns of rival teams.

The Canadiens simply cannot go into next season with both Edmundson and Matheson taking up two roster spots; and the decision of who to keep seems rather easy.

Florida’s Pick

It’s really hard to say, given how lists are playing out.

I have a glut of players in the 12 to 18 range that could be of interest like Axel Sandin-Pellikka, Brayden Yager, Dalibor Dvorsky, Ryan Leonard, and more.

There’s a lot that could still move.

However, I 100% believe the Canadiens would be willing to sacrifice the pick if they can swing another Kirby Dach type of deal.

Could it be part of an eventual package made to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois?

It’s certainly a possibility, and I believe that possibility becomes more real the better the Panthers perform.

The Jets will likely want some capital they could turn around and use to improve their roster rather quickly, and a mid-first-round pick could be very valuable on the draft floor.

That being said, I believe Kent Hughes will want to hold on to that pick until the last second to see if any interesting players fall to their second selection.

Who Do Montreal Canadiens Draft At #5

Having absolutely no knowledge of his situation in the KHL and possible impediments he may have in coming over down the line, I take him.

Michkov has rare offensive ability I believe dwarfs every single player in this draft not named Connor Bedard.

When he was finally loaned from SKA to Sochi in the KHL, he absolutely took off; putting up nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 27 games.

He’s broken scoring records internally, he’s been one of the most prolific goal-scorers in recent memory and the Canadiens are in dire need of bonafide, elite goal-scoring.

Yes, Michkov is 5’8 and would only be eligible to play for Montreal in 2026, but you’d very likely be getting a top-line player in 2026; giving the Canadiens ample time to build their roster in consequence.

General Manager Kent Hughes doesn’t believe this rebuild will be completed until two or three years down the line; meaning next season may be another difficult season.

If so, the wait for Michkov will surely be worth it, and the Canadiens could spend that time adding size and skill to their lineup.

Because you don’t pass on a player like Michkov for size, you simply go and get bigger players, like the Canadiens did last summer in drafting Juraj Slafkovsky and trading for Kirby Dach, to better surround them.

He’s that special of a player.

However, if there are some serious red flags on Michkov, Will Smith would be the pick for me at 5.

Must Read: Will Smith On Growth, Ties To Canadiens Hughes

His exceptional offensive ability and dual-threat offence is very rare and compares quite favourably to a similar prospect like Logan Cooley.

To me, he’s a top centre in the making and could be a major piece for the Canadiens, should he be on the board.

Jakub Dobes

Jakub Dobes is not eligible to play for the Montreal Canadiens this season.

The 21-year-old signed an Amateur Try-Out with the Laval Rocket to end this current season, and his entry-level contract won’t start until the 2023-2024 season.

NHL teams are unable to call-up players that aren’t on NHL deals at the moment of their recall; and, since the ELC is already signed, they will have to wait.

But, that was always part of the plan, as the Canadiens want to see what they have with Cayden Primeau and Samuel Montembeault first.

The real question is whether Dobes will see any action with the Rocket down the stretch, as they’re in a heated race for the final playoff spot in the North division and riding Primeau pretty heavily.

Laval Rocket Eligibility

No worries at all!

The Montreal Canadiens papered Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen right before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3 to render them eligible for the AHL Playoffs.

Unfortunately, because he was injured at the time, Justin Barron could not be papered, as injured players cannot be reassigned according to the NHL CBA.

This is what general manager Kent Hughes wanted Jayden Struble, Emil Heineman, Jakub Dobes and other Canadiens prospects to join the Rocket as soon as possible.

There’s a massive opportunity for prospects to play a meaningful role down the stretch for the Rocket; something Heineman has already seized with his six goals in his first six games.

From The 2023 NHL Draft To Montreal Canadiens?

First off, what an absolute game-changer either of these talents would be for the Montreal Canadiens organization.

However, I doubt that either should make the jump to the NHL right away.

For Will Smith, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that he will spend at least one year at Boston College next season; which will be great for his development.

For Benson, although he has ripped up the WHL this season with 98 points in 60 games, I still feel like you’d be putting him in harm’s way by playing him in the NHL at 18.

Both players need to mature physically and get some extra reps in, represent their countries at the World Juniors and dominate their respective playoffs in the Spring of 2024.

Then, I believe both will make the jump to the pros in the Fall of 2024.

That’s my projection for two players I have ranked quite high on my 2023 NHL Draft board.

Montreal Canadiens Organizational Need

To me, without a doubt, the Canadiens’ biggest need is a game-breaking forward.

They have a lot of promise on the back end, despite not being necessarily deep on the right side.

They have options in goaltending, a position that can be retooled on the fly.

But one thing that has evaded the Montreal Canadiens since the 90s, is a game-breaking talent at forward.

Yes, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are excellent players that will be key pieces to the puzzle for the club moving forward, but, for them to truly keep up with the top teams of this league, they’ll need to add a star forward to this roster.

Whether that be via draft or trade, it’s the biggest thing the team needs to move forward.

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