Canadiens 2023 NHL Draft Targets Impressing At U-18s
The Montreal Canadiens are currently in Switzerland taking in the U-18 World Championships, with many of their potential targets having impressive showings.
The Canadiens could be banking on two 1st-round picks in the top-17 if the Florida Panthers fall to the Boston Bruins this week, leaving them with many options to choose from.
With general manager Kent Hughes and the rest of the Montreal Canadiens management team in Switzerland to scout some of the top draft-eligible players, it’s a great opportunity for them to get a final look at some potential targets ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Here’s who’s been standing out:
It comes as no surprise that Will Smith finds himself at the top of this list.
The highest-ranked player participating in the tournament, Smith has terrorized the opposition in the first three games of the tournament, putting up four goals and seven assists for a staggering 11 points.
Smith’s impressive playmaking abilities and underrated finishing touch have helped him lead the offence for Team USA as they’ve steamrolled their opponents throughout this tournament.
With the way Smith has been playing down the stretch this season, he may just edge himself out of range of the Montreal Canadiens, as he seems to be a virtual lock for the top-5 of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Check out this goal by projected top pick Will Smith at U18 Worlds 👀 pic.twitter.com/X2DOj6NdFw
— CBJ Highlights (@ThreadsJackets) April 23, 2023
The United States Development Team’s most prolific scorer of all time, Gabriel Perreault is doing some damage and putting some respect back on his name.
The 17-year-old has led Team USA in scoring all season and just recently broke Auston Matthews’ points record with the program with his impressive offensive outburst at the tournament.
The son of former NHLer Yannick Perreault, Gabriel is a high-end prospect that is showing that his skating issues were vastly overstated, as he’s looked mobile and engaged in each of his team’s three games.
He’s been a standout for USA, matching Will Smith for the team lead in scoring with 11 points, all while showing he can make a difference at both ends of the ice.
His impressive showing may vault him into the Top-10 of the 2023 NHL Draft, but, should he slide, he’d be an excellent value selection for the Canadiens at 17th overall.
ICYMI: Last night, Gabe Perreault recorded his 118th point to set a new @USAHockeyNTDP record for most points in a single season!
He finished the night with five points (3g-2a) and now has 121 points (51g-70a) across 58 games on the 2022-23 campaign.
Congrats, Gabe! 👏🤩 |… pic.twitter.com/7fs1gsnSFP
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 23, 2023
Ryan Leonard is the third member of the dynamic top line for Team USA, and he’s been far from just a regular complimentary player.
The 17-year-old power forward plays with a ton of grit and aggressiveness, plowing over opponents and causing all kinds of havoc in front of the net.
Not only does he create a ton of space for his teammates, but he also creates a high number of scoring chances for them as well.
Thankfully, Leonard has been a little more selfish at the tournament, showing off his laser-like wrist shot and displaying his ability to be a serious shooting threat at the next level.
Should the Montreal Canadiens receive bad news at the NHL Draft Lottery and slide to 7th overall, Leonard will be a player to watch for.
Gabe Perreault with a beautiful play defensively that leads to a primary assist on the dish to Ryan Leonard. pic.twitter.com/f9yLliATIQ
— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) April 23, 2023
Sandin-Pellikka was always known as a smooth-skating offensive defenceman, but he’s now proving that he’s the most dynamic defenceman of his class.
Without any disrespect to other defencemen in the 2023 NHL Draft like David Reinbacher or Dimitri Simashev, Sandin-Pellikka shows the ability to be a bonafide top-4 defenceman with top-pair upside if all things go well in his development.
His ability to transport the puck and quarterback not only a power play, but an even-strength offensive charge, make him a serious weapon for any team.
A weapon that Sweden has been happy to use, as the young defenceman has two goals and four assists for six points in just three games.
He may not be an option for Montreal with their 1st pick, but there could be a scenario where they could try to move up with Florida’s pick to select him.
Sweden is just ROLLING Canada in this first period.
Axel Sandin-Pellikka with his 1st of the tourney and 3rd point of the game. pic.twitter.com/OEUvxucjCe
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) April 20, 2023
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If possible, any chance you can include the height, weight, etc. under the players’ names for future articles? Thanks.
Will Smith R C 6’0″ 181 2005-05-17
Gabriel Perreault L F 5’11” 170 2005-05-07
Ryan Leonard R C 6’0″ 192 2005-01-22
Axel Sandin Pellikka R D 5’11” 181 2005-03-11