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Montreal Canadiens

Potential Canadiens 2023 NHL Draft Targets On Defence



Montreal Canadiens Draft

The Montreal Canadiens have a strong group of young defencemen coming in, but they could still bolster their depth at the 2023 NHL Draft.

The Canadiens have spent some good draft capital on defencemen over the last few years, with many just getting their careers started in the NHL this season.

However, there’s still a hole on the right side of their defensive structure, with only Logan Mailloux, Justin Barron and Miguel Tourigny as legitimiate prospects at the position.

Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them strongly consider cementing their back-end for years to come, and here are some of their options:

David Reinbacher – 5th overall

David Reinbacher has risen on many draft boards as of late, due to his exceptional performances in the Swiss A league as a U-18 defenceman.

He first caught the attention of the hockey world at the 2023 World Junior Championships, where he stood out in a big way on Austria’s blue line; consistently looking like the most dangerous player on the ice.

For a player of his size, he has top-end carrying ability with the puck on his stick and is able to transition in the blink of an eye; a skill that will become even more apparent on smaller ice.

Reinbacher’s combination of size and mobility make him one of the more unique players in the draft, but also one of the safest bets to become a top-4 defenceman down the line.

That being said, it would be shocking to see the Montreal Canadiens make that kind of a reach at 5th overall.

Lukas Dragicevic – 31st overall

Initially viewed as one of the top defensive prospects in this class, Lukas Dragicevic took a small tumble down the rankings due to his lackadaisical defensive game and underwhelming playoff performance.

But, make no mistake, he is one of the best offensive defencemen available in this draft; and taking the right-shot defenceman at 29th overall would be solid value for a club looking to shore up that position.

Dragicevic possesses great offensive tools, such as his wide array of shooting options and some underrated playmaking ability.

He loves to join the rush as the fourth man to help promote offensive chance creation and is very good at maintaining possession in the offensive zone.

He would be a project for the Montreal Canadiens’ development team, but there could be a huge reward at the end of that process.

Tanner Molendyk – 31st overall

Tanner Molendyk is one of the smoothest skaters in this draft class; and could play either side on defence due to his exceptional skating ability.

Watching him jet up the ice with the puck on his stick is impressive, as he doesn’t break stride in possession and is able to attack pockets of space aggressively; taking the opposition off-guard.

Besides his skating, Molendyk has very underrated vision; finding passing lanes with ease and quickly getting pucks to open teammates through traffic.

His skating also helps him out defensively, as he’s a solid rush defenceman; killing plays before they have the chance to get into his zone and quickly starting the counter-attack for his team.

He’s risen up the rankings with authority over the last few months; as he continued to elevate his game and round out the defensive side of things

Étienne Morin – 31st or 37th overall

The dynamic defenceman from Valleyfield, Quebec was one of the best offensive defencemen in the entire QMJHL this season at 17 years of age.

His 21 goals in just 67 games put him at the top of the league in goal-scoring from the back-end, while his 72 points ranked him third in scoring for defencemen across the league.

His offensive gifts, both his shooting mechanics and playmaking ability, helped him lead the Moncton Wildcats in scoring as well, but it’s his impressive playoff performances that really got people talking.

The offensive-minded rearguard was Moncton’s heart and soul ensuring their surprising playoff push, where Morin collected two goals and 15 assists for a staggering 17 points in just 12 games.

Morin has proven to be a clutch player when it matters the most, and his rapid progress this season has seen him rocket up the standings in a very big way.

Oliver Bonk – 31st or 37th overall

Oliver Bonk, son of former Montreal Canadiens forward Radek Bonk, has had a rapid jump up the rankings over the second half of this season.

The six-foot-two, 180-pound right-shooting defenceman grew into a crucial role for the London Knights, playing behind Canadiens prospect Logan Mailloux.

After only playing 10 OHL games last season, Bonk’s first, full OHL season was nothing short of impressive, putting up 10 goals and 30 assists for 40 points in 67 games; all while Mailloux received the top offensive missions.

The 18-year-old plays a strong defensive game; using his stick to get into passing lanes and breaking up plays on the rush. He plays a very mature game in his own end for such an inexperienced player, and got even better as the season went along.

He’s also quite mobile, with and without the puck; which he uses to get himself out of pinches and quickly start the breakout to push the offence the other way.

Some scouts believe that he’ll have more of an opportunity to develop his offensive game as Mailloux turns pro next season, meaning there could be even more upside to a player that has primarily had a defensive role.

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I would argue that Reinbacher moving into the top 5 selections is a good possibility , even probable . The last 4 years we’ve seen defencemen moving up at least a couple of places above their projected spots . Seider , (he rose about 10 ) Sanderson , Luke Hughes , and Nemec . Like these guys Reinbacher has the combined size and mobility to entice a GM.

Pierre B.

Hughes’ would need to be convinced of his top-pair potential to risk ignoring better offensive talents – one of Michkov, Smith or Carlsson among others.


Sure top talented forwards would be left on the table if Reinbacher goes in the top 5 . We saw that last year with Nemec where Cooley and Gauthier were still there or the year before when Luke Hughes went before Kent Johnson. As for Montreal Hugo has said from the beginning that they want a fast puck possession team . As the author wrote here , the Austrian would be this years best bet at the top of the defence choices and he’s a rightie which adds to his resume . I like Willander a lot too .

Last edited 12 days ago by Habbotsford
Pierre B.

From what I read from different experts, about half of them believe Reinbacher has top-pair potential. Some of these experts are praising him like the author here. While there seems to be a consensus that he’s a save pick because he’ll almost certainly be a top-4 RHD, several doubt that his offensive will translate in the NHL. In 2022, Nemec and Jiricek were both considered top-5 picks well ahead of the draft. Seider was a bit of a surprise, so I understand why one could believe that Reinbacher could be one too. However, Reinbacher is not the best defenseman of this draft class on all rankings, many prefer Sandin Pellikka.


Nemec was ranked top 5 alright but it was always Wright , Slafkovsky and Cooley at the top so I’ll stand by my statement the a d-man has jumped at least 2 spots over the drafts since 2019 .
Every year since 2004 a defenceman has gone top 5 in the draft . I’m not thinking that Montreal would pass over Michkov if given the chance , I think he’ll be gone by their turn . Based on what GMs have shown over the last 19 drafts , I’d not be surprised to see Reinbacher go before anyone except Bedard, Michkov , Fantilli and maybe Carlsson . I’m not as big a fan of Sandin-Pellikka , his WJHC wasn’t very impressive and it makes me doubt his ability against older , bigger players ,


We all entitled to an opinion and that’s yours . The only ones who really make it reality are the GMs and their staff . While offence in forwards is most appealing to fans , it’s not necessarily so with management . That each draft since 2004 has seen d-men taken top 5 can’t be ignored as to what the teams are looking for . Last year on THW it wasn’t an option for most people to think Nemec could possibly break into the top three , one writer responded that the idea was illogical . Well guess what , at least one NHL team didn’t agree.

Pierre B.

Tom Willander could be one of the best RHD of this coming draft. He would be worth trading up to be sure to be able to select him.


Pick #5 is for Michkov or Smith, whichever player is available at that moment. Pick #32 can be used for picking a good RHD. Pick #37 can be used for picking a center if Michkov is selected at #5 or a good winger if Smith is selected at #5. In the 4th round Montreal has 3 picks so they should draft a good goal tender there.

Pierre B.

Both Molendyk and Morin are LHD. There’s already a logjam of LHD prospects with 3 rookies (Guhle, Harris, Xhekaj) already with the CH, two top-prospects rapidly climbing the depth chart (Hutson, Engstrom), and several promising prospects gaining experience in the AHL (Trudeau, Struble, Norlinder).


Habs won’t draft LD’s . They have a lot of really good LD “D” men prospects

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