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Habs Mailbag: Canadiens Trade Targets, Michkov/Carlsson, Free Agents



Montreal Canadiens mock draft

Welcome back to another edition of the Montreal Canadiens mailbag!

This week we discuss the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery at length, possible additions and subtractions to the lineup, as well as one of our favourite topics, prospect development.

A stick tap goes out to all the Canadiens fans that submitted a question. Much obliged!

Let’s get right into it.


Emil Heineman was one of the prospects that caught my eye at training camp due to his fantastic shot and his mobility. And there’s no doubt he made quite the impact upon joining the Laval Rocket late in the season.

After a certain analyst warned fans to lower their expectations regarding Heineman’s AHL assignment, the 21-year-old winger went on to score an impressive seven goals and two assists in just 11 games.

Statistically speaking, he made the greatest impact on the club despite only playing in a fraction of their games.

However, at the risk of being made to look like a fool (again), I’d say we should once again temper our expectations.

It’s not that Heineman lacks offensive instinct. If anything, he’s overflowing with it. I’d even go as far as saying he has one of the best shots in the organization, which is an area of weakness for the Canadiens. He’s also able to play the type of high-tempo hockey head coach Martin St-Louis expects from his players.

But we must remind ourselves that his 17.5 percent shooting percentage in the AHL is far from sustainable in the NHL. Heineman scored a fair amount of those goals on second-chance opportunities as well, and if he does make the NHL roster he’s unlikely to be used in a situation that is conducive to sustained offensive zone shifts.

There’s also the matter of his defensive prowess, which is questionable, to say the least.

He has a hard time maintaining defensive positioning and has a penchant for abandoning his coverage at inopportune times. That simply would not fly in the NHL.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he earns an extended audition with the Canadiens to start the year, but in the long run, I’m convinced he’s destined for another year or two in the AHL.

We’ll see how long it takes Heineman to prove me wrong this time around.

For those who may not be aware, Kraft Dinner is the Canadian version of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. And like any good Canadian latchkey kid, I ate an unreasonable amount of the stuff.

It was cheap, easy to make, and delicious.

And since it was so readily available, I never bothered with proper mac and cheese.

In a bid to renew my former love of fluorescent-orange noodles, I dipped into the nostalgia vault and decided to purchase a box at the start of the pandemic.

And it was a disaster. Both for my liver and my taste buds.

I’m not sure what changed, but it felt like I had eaten twelve Big Macs in a row while participating in a marathon that involved people shooting BB guns at my belly while also taunting me about my life choices. I’m pretty sure I saw eagles.

I think there’s a certain age where you simply can’t process that stuff, and according to my timeline, it’s when you turn ‘my knees hurt when it rains’-old.


Look, it’s the NHL.

Anything can happen.

I remember thinking to myself “There’s no way 14 teams are stupid enough to let a player of Cole Caufield’s ilk fall to 15th overall,” at the 2019 Draft.

Hell, I even tweeted about it because I was genuinely confused why NHL teams, who for the most part all want to add goal-scorers to their lineup, would ignore such a talented goal-scorer.

And, well, we all know how the rest of that story went.

Teams have a long history of galaxy-braining draft picks, and it almost always leads to disaster.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath when it comes to Leo Carlsson falling to the Habs. There’s no logical reason why he should be available after the fourth pick.

If he does, the Canadiens should sprint to the podium to make their choice before other teams realize the mistake they made.

I’ll let Cam Robinson answer the rest of the question because he’s more qualified than I am.


3 – Connor Bedard invokes the Eric Lindros clause.

2 – The Chicago Blackhawks decide they need to draft someone with more size in a desperate bid to replace Kirby Dach.

1 – It wouldn’t be the first time the organization turned a blind eye to something important.


Louis-Rémi hits on a very interesting topic for Habs fans.

For the most part, I think size is overrated in the NHL, especially when you sacrifice talent in a bid to become more truculent.

But for the first time in a long time, I watched a team in the playoffs and thought to myself they probably made a mistake by not trading for a member of the Montreal Canadiens at the deadline.

The team was the New Jersey Devils, and the player was Josh Anderson.

A little more pep in their step would have done wonders for building momentum in the second round, but from what I could see, it was the Carolina Hurricanes who dominated the games with their physical prowess.

I’m not suggesting the Canadiens will move forward on the Anderson dossier, and frankly, he deserves a break from all the trade rumours, but he certainly could have helped the Devils when they needed it most.


It depends. If he wanted to honour his father, he would go the presidential route and pick a player who promised a guaranteed return as to please as many constituents as possible.

But if he returned to his lawyer routes, I’d like to think he’d throw caution to the wind and go for the home-run swing. That’s Michkov’s music.

However, the most accurate answer is that he’d probably have a stroke when someone introduced him to a computer and the magic food-stuff containers we call Tupperware.

Terry brings up a topic that seems to be worrying a significant portion of the fan base. I’ve received multiple goaltending questions in every edition of the Canadiens mailbag this season.

I understand why many are concerned, but to me, it’s one of the lowest priorities in the organization.

Yes, Carey Price was a godsend for a franchise that put a flawed product on the ice, and that has conditioned some to think you need a bonafide franchise goaltender, however, I maintain goaltenders can and should be acquired on the cheap.

Unless a team is primed for a Stanley Cup run and lacks depth, I don’t see the value in using trade assets or high draft picks to plug that organizational weakness.

Every year there are half a dozen goaltenders that are put on the trade market and available for little to nothing, which tells us the goaltending market is essentially dead in the NHL.

Simply put, too many teams have too many goaltenders with too few development spots available.

That’s why I’m a fan of using late draft picks on European or NCAA goalies, as the Canadiens did with Jakub Dobes.

It gives the teams a lot more time to asset their potential, which, given their relatively slow development, is a significant advantage when analyzing goaltenders.

It should also be noted that European goalies tend to have better odds of earning a job in the NHL.

For now, I suggest the Canadiens should look for goaltenders that may have slipped through the cracks in other organizations, but with Samuel Montembeault, Dobes, and Cayden Primeau in the mix, there’s absolutely no rush.


I’m terrible when it comes to predicting free agents, but I’ll give this one a shot: The Montreal Canadiens sign forward Ryan O’Reilly to a three-year contract.

He’s the type of talented forward with size that Kent Hughes and Co. have repeatedly discussed in their press conferences.

And it would also shore up their centre depth, though the Pierre-Luc Dubois dossier may have something to say about my prediction.

Defensively, they could stand to add a player like Damon Severson to their roster, but from what I hear he’s not interested in coming to a big market.

As for the player who is most likely to go, I’ll avoid the obvious answer, Joel Edmundson, because I don’t get the sense he has much value on the trade market.

Since there are too many forwards and not enough roster spots, I’ll go another route and pick someone who may actually lead to a decent return if he’s made available for trade: Jesse Ylonen.

With that said, given my track record on these types of questions, I expect the Canadiens to immediately announce they have no intentions of signing O’Reilly, have traded Edmundson to the Calgary Flames, and have extended Ylonen with an 8-year contract that comes with a no-move clause and an endless supply of pinatas shaped like my giant Irish head.


We’re going to cover this subject with an in-depth article leading up to the 2023 Draft, but for now, we can take a look at Michael Schuckers’ NHL Draft analysis which set a value on every pick based on a 10-year sample size.

The value chart suggests it shouldn’t cost the Canadiens much more than a mid-round pick to make the exchange.

But despite holding much less knowledge than Schucker on the topic, I’d say this year is a little different.

I’m not suggesting the Canadiens use their assets in this manner, but I would expect it would cost, at minimum, a very good second-round pick or a late first-round pick to move up those two precious spots.

Perhaps even more.

The Columbus Blue Jackets hold all the cards in this situation, and if a team is calling them about the third overall pick, it means they’ve keyed in on a particular player.

That leaves the Blue Jackets with all the leverage.

Besides, the Canadiens will end up getting a very good player with the fifth overall pick. There’s no need to press the issue unless they truly think the difference between Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov is worth another important asset.

It’s easy to throw around good draft picks in trade offers, but we have to remember, Owen Beck and Lane Hutson were second-round picks.

I’m not sure the Canadiens have enough high-end talent in their prospect pool to warrant such a move.

Then again, perhaps Canadiens management sees it in another light. Rather than bet on quantity, they could end up putting all their eggs in one basket and gambling on quality.

Regardless, one thing is for certain, the Canadiens must leave the 2023 Draft with a player that will have a long, successful NHL career.

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If all it’s going to take to go from 5 to 3 is adding a 2nd rounder, then do it. Guarantee we get Michkov. He would be a slam dunk 1st overall any other year so swing for the fences and get a difference maker and potential franchise cornerstone.

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