The Montreal Canadiens will make a very important decision on June 28 in Nashville, but there’s more to the first round than just the fifth overall pick.
Thanks to the trade that sent Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers, the Canadiens will pick twice in the first round, with their 2nd first-round pick landing at 31st overall.
With the NHL’s Entry Draft quickly approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at some of the players that may be available when the Canadiens take to the podium for the second time on Wednesday.
Oliver Bonk, Defenceman, Shoots Right, London Knights (OHL)
Bonk is the son of former mulleted Canadiens forward, Radek Bonk. Canadiens fans may be familiar with his style of play given that he featured on the same team as Logan Mailloux last season. He finished behind Mailloux in scoring, with 10 goals and 30 assists in 67 games, making him the second-most productive blueliner in London.
Habs POV: The Canadiens certainly need more right defencemen in their prospect pool, but there are a few things about Bonk’s style of play that leaves something to be desired. Inconsistency isn’t unusual in the OHL, but in Bonk’s case, it’s rather drastic. He’ll go from the most noticeable player on the ice one night to being invisible the very next game. He’s very responsible defensively. His skill set is still very raw, which means there’s a lot more potential to unlock, but I’m not convinced he’ll be able to translate his production from the back end to professional hockey.
Draft Rankings: Flo Hockey has Bonk ranked the earliest, at 26th overall. However, there’s a significant discrepancy in the overall rankings, with some outlets placing him as low as 86th overall.
Oliver Bonk (#2023NHLDraft) wins it in the shootout for the London Knights with this beautiful backhand deke.
Did I mention he's a defenceman? pic.twitter.com/cGaQNY2ME4
— Hadi Kalakeche (@HadiK_Scouting) March 3, 2023
Bradly Nadeau, Centre, Shoots Right, Penticton Vees (BCHL)
Nadeau had a very good regular season in the BCHL, scoring 45 goals and 68 assists in 54 games for the powerhouse Vees. But it was in the playoffs when he truly shone brightest, scoring 17 goals and 18 assists in 17 games. It’s worth noting that much of his production came on the powerplay, which is always a concern when a player is evolving in a league such as the BCHL.
Habs POV: Nadeau is an excellent shooter, which is definitely an area in which the Canadiens could stand to add some talent. He relies on three things: pinpoint accuracy, a deceptive release, and an ungodly amount of power. He’s committed to playing for the University of Maine (NCAA) next season, which means he’s probably heading toward a slow and steady development path, the perfect journey for a player that doesn’t necessarily project as a top-line player.
Draft Rankings: McKeen’s has Nadeau ranked the highest, at 27th overall. Recruit Scouting has Nadeau ranked the lowest, at 45th overall.
Bradly Nadeau is our 21st-ranked prospect at @ScoutingService for the 2023 #NHLDraft. He's one of the best pure shooters from this draft class, but his playmaking skills are very good as well, and not talked about enough. Let's take a look at some of his best goals and assists: pic.twitter.com/KlmEDVdrmI
— Jérôme Bérubé (@Jerome_Berube) June 23, 2023
Ethan Gauthier, RW, Shoots Right, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
You may remember Gauthier making headlines when he stated he’s confident the Canadiens would strongly consider drafting him if he’s available with the 31st overall pick. The feisty forward, who models his game on the Tkachuk brothers, was also the player Bob McKenzie listed going to the Habs in the most recent edition of his consensus rankings. He earned 30 goals and 39 assists playing with Joshua Roy and the Phoenix last season, though it should be noted that he was on a roster with several 19-year-old players, and wasn’t afforded as many opportunities as some of his teammates.
Canadiens POV: Gauthier is an honest player, in that he’ll give his all every shift and you won’t have to worry about his work ethic. He battles like a scorned honey badger in front of the net, which often leads to opposing defencemen losing their cool. I’d argue that he doesn’t possess high-end skills and his skating stands to be improved, which makes picking him in the first round a somewhat underwhelming proposal.
Draft Rankings: Craig Button has Gauthier ranked highest, at 17th overall. Smaht Scouting, on the other hand, has Gauthier ranked 79th overall. The vast majority of draft rankings have Gauthier ranked outside of the first round.
2023 Draft prospect Ethan Gauthier with a beautiful skate, cut to the middle and he cuts the Mooseheads lead to two. pic.twitter.com/cWi3GoC3Ly
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) May 3, 2023
Gavin Brindley, RW, Shoots Right, University of Michigan (NCAA)
At 5’8″, Brindley is one of the shortest players available this year. He’s a tireless worker, using his anticipation to cover large swaths of the ice during his shifts. The first half of his season was rather concerning, but Brindley found his rhythm as the season went on. He scored 12 goals and 26 assists in 41 games last season, though he did his best work as a stalwart defensive forward. He’s the type of player that hasn’t yet unlocked his full potential, which makes his lack of offensive punch a little easier to accept.
Canadiens POV: His skating is very good, but it’s not necessarily elite, which makes his diminutive size a concern. It’s also worth remembering defensive specialists can be found throughout the draft, whereas players with offensive potential are usually gone by the time the second round is over.
Draft Rankings: Several outlets are rather high on Brindley, ranking him as early as 9th, 13th, and 15th overall. On the flip side, Craig Button ranked him 40th. Bob McKenzie, who puts together consensus rankings, had Brindley as the 30th overall prospect.
Gavin Brindley (@umichhockey) has 12 points in 8 games since returning from the world juniors, playing some of his best hockey of the year!
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) February 8, 2023
Quentin Musty, LW, Shoots Left, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Musty is one of the most interesting players that will be available in Nashville. He’s a physically mature player with average skating, and projects as a forward who can create chaos in the offensive zone due to his penchant for using his 6’2″ frame to his advantage. Musty, one of the youngest players in this draft class, earned 26 goals and 52 assists in 53 games last season.
Habs POV: Musty is the type of player Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton love. He’s intense and has enough talent to make an impact at both ends of the rink and in all situations. He has a great shot, too, which makes him even more appealing to the Canadiens. He’s also a very good communicator, which should serve him well in interviews with NHL teams.
Draft Rankings: Musty’s rankings are all over the place. Some outlets have him ranked as high as 12th, whereas others have him outside the first round. In all likelihood, he won’t be available at 31st overall, but if he is, the Canadiens should pounce.
Quentin Musty is one of the #2023NHLDraft's most skilled players:
• Ankle-breaking moves
• Deceptive playmaking
• Nasty off-the-pass shooting
• Endless creativity
EP's No. 12-ranked prospect. pic.twitter.com/Pt7KCoyccs
— Mitchell Brown (@MitchLBrown) June 12, 2023
The most exciting aspect of this draft is that the Canadiens should leave the first round with two very talented players. There are no guarantees, but a player such as Gracyn Sawchyn, who played alongside Jared Davidson and the powerhouse Seattle Thunderbirds, could end up becoming an impact player. Gracyn was ranked anywhere from 13th overall to 47th overall
And then there’s the matter of the Russian prospects. Players like Daniil But and Mikhail Gulyayev should be long gone by the time the 31st pick rolls around, but given the current situation in Russia, the Canadiens may find themselves with a chance to pick a player who should have been among the top 15 prospects chosen.
Zellweger in 2021, Hutson in 2022… lets see if teams do it to us again in 2023. pic.twitter.com/e1wSJ9x7BM
— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) May 18, 2023