Canadiens Entering Most Crucial Part Of Rebuild
The Montreal Canadiens are looking to build a cup contender, and the steps they take this summer could directly impact their success.
It’s a tale as old as time in Montreal, where management promotes the idea of building through an influx of youth, but quickly abandons that project at the first sign of success.
It was the case in 2006, 2013 and again in 2020, where past general managers rushed their own established processes and took shortcuts to build a team that could squeak into the playoffs.
Under Kent Hughes, the Montreal Canadiens have shown a significant amount of patience; the likes we haven’t seen in decades.
For the first time in over 40 years, the Canadiens will be selecting in the top 10 of two consecutive NHL Drafts, all while stockpiling other top assets like Kirby Dach and Justin Barron.
But, with the organization openly stating that expectations will be higher on the team next season, it’s important to point out what that means and what fans should expect.
Building A Winner
The Montreal Canadiens are now going into the NHL Draft Lottery with the fifth-best odds to win either of the two lotteries, but, outside of that, they feel confident that could advance their rebuild heading into June 28.
“I think we’re in a good position where we have a lot assets, good young players, a lot of draft picks. We have the leverage to make some deals and do those kinds of things,” said EVP Jeff Gorton regarding the Canadiens’ strategy at the Draft. “I would expect that we would be active at the draft and push it along as far as we can. We’ll all cross our fingers at the Lottery. I think we’re in a really good spot, and our scouts think we’re going to get a really good player.”
However, the Canadiens have made it clear that, whatever moves they make, it will be for the greater good of the organization in the long term, and not a quick fix.
“We’re trying to build this thing the right way. If we just take shortcuts, just to be a little better, I don’t think that’s going about it the right way,” said Gorton. “Building, developing and letting it happen organically is the way to go. I understand that our fans have been very supportive. There’s not a blueprint that works for everyone.”
Unlike regimes of the past, it seems like the Montreal Canadiens are banking on themselves this time around, trusting their new-look developmental department and their coaching staff to bring these youngsters along, rather than look outside the organization for help.
There are obviously rumours swirling around players like Pierre-Luc Dubois or Alexis Lafrenière, but, if the price is too rich and compromises the plan for the Montreal Canadiens, they’ll actively look elsewhere.
Therein lies the difference.
Gone are the days of trading the Ryan McDonaughs or the Mikhail Sergachevs for a potential stopgap; the Canadiens are looking to build something sustainable.
So, when they mean they’re going to increase expectations, they’re talking about the accountability of their youngsters; not the standings result.
No Chance Of Trading Away Their Pick
Although the Florida Panthers‘ 1st-round pick could be up for grabs in the right deal for a younger player, the Canadiens’ own 1st-round pick appears to be off the board.
“We’re confident that, independent of the lottery, we’re going to get a really good player,” said Gorton regarding their 1st-round pick. “We’d love to win the lottery, but we’re going to get a really good player according to our scouts.”
It’s excellent news for fans in the long-term, as the scouting staff seems primed to select quite high this year; adding some more elite talent to a young core.
For Gorton and general manager Kent Hughes, this has always been the plan; as they recognize the lack of elite talent on the club outside of their top youngsters.
For this regime to truly succeed, they must continue to show more patience than their predecessors, while jumping on the opportunities that present themselves in a timely fashion.
The second summer after bottoming out in the NHL standings is always telling, as the actions taken during that time generally separate the retools from the rebuilds.
With the Canadiens entering that second summer, what they do over the next two months will have a significant impact on the trajectory of the club moving forward.
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Excellent article. Montreal should pick a center (like Will Smith) with its 5th placed draft selection. That would cement the future Montreal Center lineup as Suzuki, Smith, Beck, and Kidney.
The pick isn’t fifth. It’s 1st 2nd, fifth, sixth or seventh. We will know tomorrow but I have inside information…. it’s first. 🙂
Gorton and Hughes’ comments are music to my ears.I’ve been touting this approach for years now.
This year’s draft is crucial, but in the longer horizon Montreal also has Calgary’s first in upcoming drafts (2024? 2025?). HuGo could very well use the salary cap space to do what they did with Monahan (i.e. trade for a player with a bad contract in exchange for another high pick. Thus, the Habs could set it up for multiple drafts with multiple first rounders. The gravy train will continue for a few more years at least.
The Flames look to be in a long gterm self destruct. That pick next year could be very good.That’s the old Sam Pollock approach. Send veterans on the decline to clubs on the decline in exchange for high picks. We miissed that oportunity with the Flyers. Next up are the Penguins, trying to stay relevant for another year or two. Give them something they want for a 2025 pick or two.
I’d Target a Newhook who in COL is seemingly had issues making an impact in the top 9.
I’d offer them MTL’s 2nd round pick this year , Mysak and Jake Evans
MTL gets a younger Center who’s more like a cross between Lehkonen and Danault.
I dont see his value as through to room anymore then Jost’s was for the same reasons.
He’s no longer Waiver Exempt , needs a new payday in which the new team has 1 year before they have to deal with arbitration
This years 2nd round picks in the position we’re in are still good.
Most of the top 20 is Forwards with like 2 D projected mid to late teens .
There’s no way that only 2 D get taken in the top 20 which will trigger forwards dropping back a position and like Domino’s 1st rounders will slip to the 2nd round .
Its why we got Owen Beck a Projected Top 6 Center with the 33rd OA pick
He was Projected top 20 to mid 20s
Hughes might have opportunities to trade LHD prospects at the 2023 draft. The two highest ranked LHD prospects, Gulyayev and Simashev, are both Russian. While some experts rank Molendyk, Cagnoni, Price, Lidstein and Morin in their top-32, their average rank put them all in the 2nd round.
While a NHL rookie LHD like Harris is worth more in this context, it’s the other prospects victim of the CH logjam at this position who should be offered. There are already too many LHD with the Laval’s Rocket, and two LHD prospects drafted in 2022, Hutson and Engström, are very promising. At least one of the older prospects will have to be traded sooner or later to create openings.Why not now?
I’m not arguing but we need to take enough time to sort out who will be the best of our crop of young Dmen. We do not want to trade away the one who will be the keeper out of them. Also, we need some size and attitude back there for the day when we are contenders and making the playoffs. Guhle and Xhakai have that but we don’t yet know if Arber has the talent to be a top 4 guy who can have an impact in the playoffs.