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Montreal Canadiens: The Cost Of Moving Up At The NHL Draft



Montreal Canadiens NHL Draft

The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly performing due diligence regarding the cost of moving up at the 2023 NHL Draft.

Of course, this should be considered standard practice for all teams involved in the Draft, however, in this particular case, it seems like the Canadiens are interested in moving from the fifth-overall position to second overall.

In all likelihood, this means they’re likely gauging the price required to draft a franchise-altering player such as Adam Fantilli, the NCAA phenom who is expected to be chosen shortly after the Chicago Blackhawks select Connor Bedard with the first-overall pick.

There’s also been reports the Canadiens are very interested in drafting Will Smith, with the added caveat that they would need to move into the top four to ensure they can put their hands on the talented forward.

The Cost

There are a few existing Draft models that can give us a better idea of the cost involved in moving up at the NHL Draft.

The first, and most referenced, is the excellent work done by Michael Schuckers, one of the most respected data analysts in sports.

The value model is based on the first 215 players drafted during 10 consecutive drafts, running from 1988 to 1997.

In Schucker’s model, it would cost the Canadiens very little to move up to the second or fourth overall position, at least relative to the value of the players involved.

It would cost the Canadiens a late third-round pick if they packaged the fifth-overall pick in exchange for the second-overall pick.

The same applies to the Canadiens moving up one spot to ensure they’re in the top four. According to the chart, it should only cost the Canadiens a seventh-round pick to ensure they move to fourth overall.

With all due respect to Shuckers, who provided the foundation for every Draft model since publishing his own and is widely respected throughout the sports data world, the data itself is slightly outdated.

Not to mention, the 2023 NHL Draft has the type of elite talent that many of the drafts used in the study did not possess.

Schucker Draft value Canadiens

Dom Luszczyszyn took it one step further, implementing newer metrics into the formula, including GSVA, which stands for Game Score Value Added. GSVA is used to project a player’s overall impact during a season.

Luszczyszyn concluded that Schucker’s model was inflating the value of late-round picks and that the mid-round picks could provide value, but much less than previously expected. He also opined that Schucker may have underestimated the gap between the top players in the first round.

His pick value chart differs significantly from Schuckers.

The Canadiens would have to add the 20th-overall pick to the 5th-overall pick to convince the Anaheim Ducks to exchange the second-overall pick.

To get into the top four it would cost them a late-third, or early fourth-round pick to move up one position.

Trade Value

To get a better idea of the actual cost associated with moving up, we can reference Curtis Isacke‘s pick value chart, which puts an onus on the price paid by NHL teams to move up in previous drafts rather than a player’s potential impact.

Canadiens draft pick trade chart


His projection aligns well with Luszczyszyn’s, suggesting the Canadiens would need to add the 23rd-overall pick to the fifth-overall pick to pique Anaheim’s curiosity.

To move up one spot, the chart indicates the Montreal Canadiens would have to package their own pick (5th overall) with a late second-round pick to move into the top four.

Brass Tacks

Two significant factors complicate things when it comes to the aforementioned draft value charts.

The first is the impressive amount of talent available in the 2023 Draft. The second being we have very few historical data points to work with.

Simply put, teams rarely move out of the top 5 at the NHL Draft.

There have been some trades that end up including a top-5 pick, but for the most part, those take place well before the Draft. They’ve involved established NHL players as the return rather than picks in the same Draft, which doesn’t help us in our quest to establish the discrepancy between the top five picks.

Given that teams are likely to target certain players within the top five, especially since many organizations may find choosing a player such as Matvei Michkov a risky proposition, I’d suggest that the excellent charts referenced in this article provide us with a decent idea of the potential cost, but aren’t a perfect indication of the actual price teams in the top four will request.

Due to the lack of historical precedents and the talent available, all bets are off for the Montreal Canadiens at the 2023 Draft.