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Canadiens Draft Analysis: Montreal Drafted For Need At 2023 Draft



Montreal Canadiens Kent Hughes

There was a lot of excitement among Montreal Canadiens fans as the team entered the 2023 NHL Draft.

And despite the fact that the team added two very good players to the mix in Alex Newhook and David Reinbacher, you’d be hard-pressed to say the Canadiens were one of the early winners this year.

Before we get into it, we should mention that Reinbacher may not be flashy, but he does project to be a very good defenceman.

Of course, it’s always too early to declare long-term winners and losers in these situations, but according to most pre-draft rankings, the Canadiens failed to make many, if any, value picks.

Goaltender Jacob Fowler is an interesting pick at 69th overall, and Luke Mittelstadt, the 197th overall pick, should provide some extra value given some outlets had him ranked among the top 100 prospects available

However, it was rather clear the Canadiens were drafting for need, a rather archaic and risky gamble when it comes to NHL prospects. By the time the majority of the players are ready to make the jump to professional hockey the team’s roster will be significantly different than the one Kent Hughes will ice this season.

Adding goalies and overager players isn’t necessarily a bad choice, but we also have to acknowledge that those type of players are readily available in other avenues that don’t involve spending a precious draft pick.

Fortunately, two of the goalies were drafted out of the USHL and MHL, which means the Canadiens will have four years to evaluate their development. As for Quentin Miller, he did not earn many starts for the Quebec Remparts, but when he did he stood out as an interesting prospect.

Unsurprisingly, the feeling among Canadiens fans is that the team squandered an opportunity to bolster their prospect depth by taking the ‘safe’ route. Though, as we’ve often heard, safe is death in sports.

That’s not to say the Canadiens’ draft will be among the worst in franchise history, but there’s very little to suggest that it eventually be regarded as anything but a mediocre draft class.

Montreal Canadiens Brass Tacks

Kent Hughes already put a significant amount of trust into his development team after he pulled the trigger on the trade that saw Alex Newhook head to the Canadiens, and the second day of the 2023 Draft simply reinforced the idea that he thinks they can work their magic and surprise the hockey world with their picks.

And they might need a little magic to make it happen according to the public pre-draft rankings.

Reinbacher, 5th overall, was rated as high as 9th in public lists, and as low as 20th.

Fowler, 69th overall, was rated between 45th and 103rd overall.

Florian Xhekaj, 101st overall, was only ranked by a single outlet, and they had him as the 214th-best prospect available.

Bogdan Konyushkov, 110th overall, is a 20-year-old defenceman who was not ranked by any outlet.

Quentin Miller, 128th overall, is a player I was hoping the Canadiens would consider, however, he was ranked by only two outlets: 192nd and 228th.

Sam Harris, 133rd overall, was not ranked by any outlet.

Goalie Yevgeni Volokhin, 144th overall, was not ranked by any outlet.

Filip Eriksson, 165th overall, was only ranked by one outlet (239th overall).

Luke Mittelstadt, a 20-year-old defenceman, may have been the best value pick of the event for the Canadiens, as some outlets have him ranked as high as 91st overall.

As you can see, the Canadiens threw caution, or rather, consensus to the wind in Nashville.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put Kent Hughes and Co. into a difficult position. If their confusing draft, which involved too many goalies and a couple of overage players, does not pan out, the 2023 NHL Draft could end up being a significant drag when discussing the state of the franchise.

And that’s simply not something a rebuilding team like the Montreal Canadiens can afford.

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By picking players not rated means perhaps their scouts knew something the others didn’t.


Thunderous dud imo. I honestly think throwing darts at a draft wall probably would have netted better overall results than this draft just did. Combined with a trade deadline that accomplished nothing, other than gaining experience for our rookie D and seeing that Dach could potentially become a very good player for us (both valuable lessons learned), this entire season was a waste. We should be better next year than last just because we shouldn’t crush the man-games lost due to injury record for a 3rd year in a row (can we?). But, I would not confuse more points in the standings with us making great strides in the rebuild. Tampa, Toronto, and Boston will all still be good teams next season. Ottawa, Buffalo and Florida will all be better too. Detroit just had a fantastic draft and have separated themselves from us by more than they already were. I can’t imagine us not finishing last in the Atlantic again next season. I can see fans/media begin to lose patience with the situation, which is going to increase pressure, which is never good for taking the time to do things the right way. HuGo have had tons of leeway so far, but I think they may just have lost a lot of faith amongst many who follow the team.


So, that’s it then, the Hughes honeymoon is over, throw in the towel? Hughes sucks. Bring back MB…or Gainey, for that matter…

Like a rational fan would do, I will reserve judgement and whining for 5 years from now…by then, we will see what has officially become of this draft. We may get another RHP. Or a Brayden Point. Or a Carey Price. Those were 1st, 3rd, and 7th rd picks, btw. Or we could get Jack Sh#t. But this obsession with b#tching about it NOW…well, that’s your term “head-scratcher” right there.

I think you either need to start drinking heavily to assuage this anguish, find another team to root for (like Philly, because they now have your favorite player who won’t play until 2026), or take this draft medicine like a good Habs fan and square with it and trust the process.

Reinbacher, Norris Trophy winner, 26-27. The same year your MichDavid joins the Flyers.

There’s my bold, unsafe, aggressive pick…

Last edited 5 months ago by morrisk

I think a rational fan would be able to express an opinion respectfully and respond to others the same way.


Being a rabid Habs fan is never a rational thing, huh?


Just by reading these articles and responding, most of us can probably classify ourselves as pretty hardcore fans, but responding disrespectfully and insulting them personally shouldn’t be a quality that is demonstrated in order to prove one’s devotion to the team.


except you never stop Tyrone. you are wrong again and again, yet here you are again, posting more nonsense.

Last edited 5 months ago by Dave

And this is was pisses me off with habs fans.. they call for a proper rebuild say they will patiently wait.. its the start of year freaking 2 and fan base is already had enough.. its going to take time its going to take misses and before landing the right person.. gorton and bobrov know this.. ots the same thing in NY.. how many 1st rounders did new york fail on before landing respectable prospects which they werent afraid to leverage into better players.. but it took time. Same with boston. They built their core group thru patience and moving prospects for other prospects that fit them. But they flopped on alot of 1st rounders during their rebuild before finding the right mix. Heck they had 3 first rounders in the top 15 in 1 year and basically flopped on all 3.. how about we let then rumoured 5year rebuild window it takes elapse before we start calling for heads.


I’m not calling for any heads. I’m hoping that’s NOT where we’re headed. Having said that, it also doesn’t mean that HuGo’s moves are immune from critiques. This particular draft represented a massive opportunity to stockpile the #1 thing missing from Habs teams for most of the past 30 years, offensive talent. To see our leaders take a defenceman with a top 5 pick and then use 3 picks on a low percentage choice like goalies, and choose yet another LD when a 6’6” RD in the QJMHL was taken with the very next pick, can certainly be open for some questioning thoughts.


What’s your preoccupation with this size thing? Over and over again. Remember McCarron? How’d that work out? YOU are the ONLY one questioning it.

Hugo picked what he believed to be the best available talent at that point. LD, RD, who cares…wasn’t that the 197th pick in the draft? Dude, you need a vacation right now…


You’re the only one freaking out to people’s responses. Just chill out.


Yeah, Tyrone has no skill. He has no idea how to evaluate talent. He constantly plays the size card, especially with goalies. Like he thinks there is no skill involved and the biggest guys always win.


Exactly! They call for a full rebuild, top to bottom, but then get nuts with this draft and pick #5 and want the single most risky aggressive pick there has been in a while. Funny thing is, Mich wouldn’t be available for another 3 yrs, so I just don’t see what all this hoopla is about.

Would I have preferred to take Nashville’s deal to trade down and get a stud goalie prospect with pick #14 and #24? YES.

Would I have preferred they “only” took 2 goalies in this draft and not 3? YES.

Would I have preferred they kept those two picks instead of trading them for Newhook? YES.

But I trust the process and I won’t go nuts over this draft. In 4-5 yrs, we will have the results and then we can judge.

Until then, we now have a stud RD prospect who many scouts are stating has a ceiling akin to Roman Yosi. No Hab dman has eclipsed 70 pts in a season since Chelios way back in 1989. I say Rein is the first one to do it.


And there we have it, another contradiction by you Tyrone. First you blast Morrisk that he is freaking out (see below) and for him to chill out, yet here YOU are over reacting again. You need to chill out Tyrone. Your just in this for clicks, which is extremely sad. You are not offering anything of value, so maybe just stop? I doubt it, your a contradiction machine.

j b

I’m not sure how picking off the board can be described as safe. Wouldn’t the safe thing be to draft the highest ranked player at each opportunity?


I think its a bit of both. Risk vs reward, pick for need, safety, whatever. Its mostly a crapshoot once you get into the 4th round and afterwards, yes?

Last edited 5 months ago by morrisk

The pass on Michkov – the understanding being that he couldn’t be scouted properly, but later pick 2 Russian players a defenseman and a goalie – so how did they know about them?


“he couldn’t be scouted properly” is the kind way of saying (from a comment below):

Do we need more undersized scoring wingers with defensive limitations? Plus add the red flags that have been starting to leak out about attitude, effort, and the fact he doesn’t believe in playing defense…he doesn’t fit our system.


The honeymoon is over, they’re doing the same mistakes as the previous regimes, they drafted need instead of the taking the best player. same horrible storylines movie, but different actors.


Theres drafting for need and theres drafting the best player for your team. Yes michkov was the best player available no doubt about it. But was he the best player for us. Thats where the real debate starts. Do the habs need more undersized scoring wingers with defensive limitations? Roy farrell caufield RHP. Plus add the red flags that have been starting to leak out about attitude, effort and the fact he doesnt believe in playing defense it doesnt fit our system. Leonard was my pick but even he has worrying flag not so much red flags. He loves the rough and tough part of the game and he only 5’11 but plays like 6’2.. well he have gallagher what happens when a 5’9-5’11 plays above his weight class.. he takes a large amount of beatings and risk of alot of injuries. Add in hes a perimeter type of player habs have enough of those. Brings us to the next best player and the one that fits both our needs and BPA for us. Reinbacher might be a stretch at 5 but as we saw with arizona picking a dman right after 1 has to wonder if they were thinking reinbacher at 6 so dropping down wasnt an option. He instantly becomes our best RHD prospect with more to learn and if he keeps the same wprk ethic that got him first noticed i have little doubt in my mind that he will be the best habs blueliner in the very near future. Many already think hes better then guhle with the potential of seider qualities.


Besides best player available is a very subjective term. To 1 person the best player is 1 person but a different person may view that same player and think its not the best player available. Draft expert say a list of players say scouts say this scouts say that. They scored this amount making them the best players available. And even that is subject to debate. An interesting article came out recently about this draft and the analytics and projectability of these players. In it.. it listed reinbacher #2 prospect behind bedard. based on all the underlying number we dont see on the scoresheets.
All this BPA talk is useless because it all comes down to the individual player. Take seider he was ranked by many in the 14 to 25 range. Yzerman clearly saw something that no one else saw. He was a reach at 6 but 4 years later hes easily the #2 pick. He went home worked on his game and didnt settle for just being drafted. Snd its paid off. Then u have guys like yakupov. Yes it was a bad draft but he was far away the best prospect of that draft rank wise. Talent alone he was considered by many to be the next biggest star but teams missed or ignored his work ethic as a player and he didnt try to get better and better he was content with the player he was. Reinbacher is already defensively solid fundamentals 6’2 185. If he goes home and says i need to add more weight while keeping my mobility and athleticism i can be even more effective against nhl players. Id like to see him 6’2 200 ish adding 15 to 20 pounds of muscle over the next couple of years not like slafkovsky who did 18pounds in 1 offseason. Will allow him to be more physical against nhlers in front of the net. And will improve his slapshot power. You can teach offense its really hard to teach smart defense. And reinbacher is already a top player defensively.


Do the habs need more undersized scoring wingers with defensive limitations? Plus add the red flags that have been starting to leak out about attitude, effort and the fact he doesn’t believe in playing defense, it doesn’t fit our system.

That’s a bingo. Great call, dude.

Rein = Seider? At least. According to most analytics I saw today, they say Roman Yosi is the likely potential.


Ok they draft 3 Defencemens one is over six feet Reinbacher other 2 under 6 feet. They draft 3 forwards one over 6 feet Florian Xhekaj the other 2 forwards under 6 feet. Last year they draft one forward over six feet Juraj Slafkovský and the forwards under six feet. The Habs packaged their 31st and 37th & Fairbrother for a little guy
Alex Newhook cuz they’re betting he will be a top six forward. If you want to win a Stanley cup you can’t have more than 2 little guys on your top 6. We keep hearing from Habs management from past to present that they need to get bigger but they don’t executed it like I said before same horrible storyline movie different actors Hughes
and Gordon . Wow


STUDebaker was a smart pick. The Newhook acquisition was shrewd timing. The rest is a crapshoot, not worth losing sleep over.

Ron Barry

Another beauty by MD – no emotion, no politics, just rational thought, TYVM. If Mtl hits with Reinbacher, and Newhook proves his worth, it’ll be a ‘thumbs up’ on how the Habs used 2023 draft assets. It was also worth a smile when Mtl selected Florian Xhekaj, whose older brother is flourishing as an UNDRAFTED player… akin to an overaged late bloomer. Hmmm. Finally, I’ll be curious to see how the Bogdan Konyushkov movie ends, noting that the 20-year-old D-man led his KHL team in minutes played per game under the scrutinizing eye of his head coach – none other than Igor Larionov, who knows a little something about hockey… and talented players.

John Spearing

I’m no scout so I’m trying to get behind this but I can’t help from feeling underwhelmed…
I hate passing on Michkov, but I’m getting over it and I do think I will like Reinbacher…
I actually really like the Newhook trade even if it’s got some gamble to it…
I love picking Fowler at 69…

but after that it’s all massive reaches (until our last pick)…
I do love adding Wifi’s lil’ bro, but I thought we could get him in the 7th round, not at 101…
Most of the reaches/darts/gambles – don’t even look that bad to me, but to go off the board with pretty much every pick and not get any good value picks mixed in – it still feels disappointing right now… also no moves, I was hoping to shed some dead weight and perhaps even move up for some quality value if any targets slid… so disappointed with the lack of action as well…
But I will trust our staff and development team – I still like the direction we are going, I still like a lot of the pieces we have…


Gorton took Lafreniere & Kakko where they were ranked and how has that worked out for the Rangers?