Canadiens Could Use Mid-Round Picks To Their Advantage
The Montreal Canadiens are once again entering the NHL Draft with many mid-round picks, but that could change in a hurry.
As of this junction, the Canadiens have three 4th-round picks and two 5th-round picks, making up nearly half of their 11 total picks for the 2023 NHL Draft.
In past years, the Montreal Canadiens routinely drafted over 10 players per draft, mostly in the later rounds, to no avail.
There have been some recent wins like Joshua Roy and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, but they’re the exception, not the rule.
During the 2022 NHL Draft, the Canadiens used a few of their draft capital to advance some trade outcomes, like the Alexander Romanov and Kirby Dach trades.
We could see the Habs do exactly the same thing this year.
Throw-In For Bigger Trades
The Montreal Canadiens haven’t been shy about telling the world they want to be aggressive on the draft floor on June 28th.
The expectations are that general manager Kent Hughes will look to continue selling off some of his veteran players as his youngsters continue to push for roster spots.
In doing so, he may want to fill some roster spots in deals that would benefit the organization in the long-term, and, sometimes, those types of deals need a bit of a push.
This is where the Canadiens could throw a few of these picks up in trades, as the organization simply has much too many in their organization that they’ll eventually have to let go for nothing.
Trading Up In The Draft
The Canadiens have rarely traded up in the NHL Draft.
More often than not, they either trade back or simply trade the pick for an equivalent selection in the next draft; but perhaps things will be different this year.
With the organization seemingly set n terms of depth, it’s time to shoot for quality and get aggressive; jumping back into the 2nd and 3rd rounds to pounce on some players that are simply too good to select at that rank.
Sweetener To Move Contracts
The Montreal Canadiens have refused, up to this point, to use any draft capital or salary retention to help them move some of their veteran players on rich deals.
With budding youngsters like Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen, and more pushing for spots at forward, it could make sense, at least from a roster perspective, to consider such a move, rather than losing some of these players to waivers next fall.
Players like Joel Armia or Mike Hoffman could be clear candidates for cap dumps by the organization, as they’d be taking a spot that would be better suited for one of the organization’s many youngsters.
With just one year left on his deal, perhaps retaining on Hoffman’s contract could be a more attractive solution to extract better value for him, but, if Hughes prefers to retain full salary flexibility, a mid-round pick could help convince a club to pull the trigger.
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I’d love to see them package all the 4ths and 5ths to a team for another 1st rounder. Find a top team that has traded away picks and prospects over the past few years to make a run for the Cup, but now needs to restock the cupboards. We are overstocked in prospects so drafting 6 more in those later rounds are of little use to us. Converting those 6 picks (quantity) into 1 top pick (quality) should be the modus operandi moving forward.
When looking at past draft, one can conclude that recruiting teams are only able to identify the most obvious “best” prospects. They will overvalue a few in the first-round, even in the top-10. They’ll undervalue many who will be drafted in later rounds. Let’s look at 2010 for example.
Of the 30 prospects drafted in 1st round, only 21 played more than 200 NHL regular games. For skaters, if we look at the 30 players with the most points produced of this draft year, 16 were drafted in the 1st round, 5 in the 2nd round, 2 in the 3rd, 7 in the later rounds. Two of the top-10 goal scorers were late draftees: Brendan Gallagher (202 goals) and Mark Stone (196 goals). Two players were overvalued in the top-10: Erik Gudbranson at #3 (107 points in 711 games; +/- stat positive only once in 12 seasons) and Dylan McIlrath at #10 (an AHL player who played 72 NHL games).
There were 21 goalies drafted that year. Of the two drafted in the 1st-round, only Jack Campbell (#11) played more than 1 game with 171; the better goalies were drafted much later: Frederik Anderson in 7th round, Petr Mrazek in 5th round and Philipp Grubauer in 4th round.
Sure, having more high draft picks (1st and 2nd-rounds) would be desirable to improve prospect’s quality. However, having multiple later round draft picks can bring quality also, but it’s a more random process. It is more useful for goalies as their development is less obvious to project.
I absolutely agree with the “normal” strategy as a general rule of thumb. The packaging I’m talking about applies to this specific top heavy draft and because of the situation we’re presently in. We have so many prospects we can’t possibly sign them all and many are just going to have to be let walk away from the organization. For right now, I’d like to see us package up many of these later picks and prospects to acquire a better quality player (or higher pick) that percentage-wise has a better shot of turning into a better player. I just think drafting 4 kids in the 4th round, only to see probably 3 of them walk away for nothing in a couple of years doesn’t help us where we are right now in the rebuild.
I don’t see any team being interested in that.
If the Habs keep 4th round picks I hope they grab several goaltenders.
It’s definitely unlikely, but you never know. Six picks for one is a heck of a ratio. Tampa traded a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th plus a prospect for Tanner Jeannot. Stranger things have happened. 😁
A few signed players have been drafted in later rounds by the Canadiens: Gallagher (147 – 2010), Hudon (122 – 2012), Evans (207 -2014), Mete (100 – 2016), Pezzetta (160 – 2016), Primeau (199 – 2017), Harvey-Pinard (201 – 2019), Farrell (124 – 2020), Dobes (136 – 2020), Trudeau (113 – 2021), Roy (150 – 2021). The CH averages close to one NHL player per year since 2010 with later-round picks (4th or later). Gallagher is the only real star player thus far in the 2010 decade.
And we’re in 2023.
Jake Evans was drafted 9 years ago.
Hence a lack of demonstrable success in recent years.
I would agree. Along with the previous draft, this upcoming draft with multiple mid round picks presents another opportunity to cash in. Those picks are currency to make moves, either from the current roster or another Romanov for Dach type deal. The draft hoarding by Bergevin and Timmins ends with the 2023 draft.