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Canadiens Tank Watch: Situation Improved Ahead Of Draft Lottery



Montreal Canadiens

Welcome back to another edition of the Montreal Canadiens 2023-24 NHL Draft Lottery tank watch.

Things have changed since the last time we checked in, and that’s fantastic news for fans hoping the organization will add an impact player to the mix at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

The Habs are now sitting in 27th overall in the NHL.

Current Situation

In the last Tank Watch, we noted the Arizona Coyotes and the Ottawa Senators were two teams the Canadiens could beat in the race to the bottom of the standings.

At the time, the Habs had 60 points, whereas the Senators and Coyotes had 56 and 57 points, respectively.

Fast forward to 10 days later, and things are looking much better for Kent Hughes’ team. The Canadiens are now tied with the Senators and are just one point ahead of the Coyotes. Montreal also has fewer regulation and overtime wins (ROW) than Ottawa, which means the Senators will finish ahead of them if both teams finish the season with the same number of points.

As for the rest of the teams in the mix, the San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Anaheim Ducks aren’t realistic targets anymore, but the Canadiens can set their sights on the Blue Jackets.

Montreal has a six-point advantage over the Blue Jackets, who have one game in hand, which means it will be a difficult proposal, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

montreal canadiens standings tank


Strength Of Schedule(s)

The Habs no longer own the most difficult strength of schedule in the NHL. That honour belongs to the Boston Bruins, believe it or not. Boston will face the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes twice down the stretch.

On that note, the difference in between the strength of schedules for both the Habs and the Bruins is negligible. It’s closer to a 1A and 1B situation, and it doesn’t have much of an impact on the Canadiens’ draft hopes.

However, the Blue Jackets went from having the 12th to the fourth most difficult strength of schedule, which is not great news for the Canadiens’ chances of finishing in 29th.

The good news is that the two teams that are more realistic targets, Ottawa and Arizona, have a much lower strength of schedule compared to the last time we took a look at the remaining 2023-24 calendar.


29th Place – Columbus Blue Jackets – Strength of schedule: 4th

28th Place – Arizona Coyotes – Strength of schedule: 13th

27th Place – Montreal Canadiens – Strength of schedule: 2nd

26th Place – Ottawa Senators – Strength of schedule: 11th


Recent Form

To get a better idea of how the teams have performed recently, we’ll take a look at their record in the last 10 games, as well as their shot control (CF%), high-danger scoring chances (HDCF%), expected goals (xGF%), shooting percentage (SH%) and team save percentage (SV%).

montreal canadiens draft lottery standings

After a very strong push in January and February, the Canadiens’ results have taken a dip in recent weeks.

Their shot share is well below the league average, as is their expected goals percentage. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the Senators and Coyotes. The Habs have also enjoyed a better shooting efficiency in the last 10 games than their competition in the race to the bottom of the standings.

On the flip side, their goaltending has taken a big step back, which means the Canadiens are stealing fewer points than they did in the first half of the season.

Simply put, all four teams have played rather poorly in the last 10 games, with the Senators emerging as the best of the worst.

Brass Tacks

With just 12 games left to play in the season, the Draft Lottery ‘race’ has become very interesting.

It will take a little luck and some help from the Coyotes, but there’s a very real possibility the Montreal Canadiens can finish 28th overall.

But even if the team does finish below the Coyotes, it won’t have much of an impact when it comes to their top-3 Draft Lottery odds.

It would improve their odds of drafting either fifth or sixth overall, which would mean they’d have an opportunity to put their hands on one of the top players at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, including some very interesting options when it comes to available forward prospects.

montreal canadiens draft lottery odds


All 2024 NHL strength of schedule information via Tankathon. The numbers in the article are accurate as of March 25 at 5 pm ET. All statistics are via Natural Stat Trick (5v5 only).

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2 narratives co-exist side-by-each on most Montreal Canadiens blogs. 1 is about wanting Mtl to play well down the stretch, seeing some of the young players develop, you want to see some growth to set things up for next season.

The other 1 is about Montreal losing as many games as possible and thereby sinking as low as possible in the standings and getting a higher draft pick.

You can’t have both. Common sense says if the players play better then they are going to win some games, get games to OT and get minimum the loser point.

This blog seems to think it’s perfectly OK to in 1 column talk about how well certain players are going, or how the team is going, and then the next column talk about the Habs losing all these games.

That’s a circle that can’t be squared, and in my opinion is not very good blogging.


Kids play well, crappy vets suck. Boom, development and losing

Pierre B.

I want the young Canadiens players to continue improving. However, I’m aware that I have no control over what happens. I’ll cheer for their success, but I’ll accept gracefully the silverlining of their losses.
I don’t really care much if they get to draft 5th, 6th or 7th. In all likelyhood, regardless of rank they draft in that range, the Canadiens will get a prospect who will improve the team in 3 years. While there are only 5 forwards that I have set my eyes on, I’m aware that there are also up to 5 defensemen who could be selected before at least one of them. The probability of none of these forwards being available at 7th is quite slim. Except for Celebrini, and to a lesser extent, Demidov, I don’t have a strong preference of any forward over the others. To NHL GMs, Catton might be the least appealing in that group because of his size (he’s close to Suzuki’s size when he was drafted), but he has a superstar ceiling.

Last edited 22 days ago by Pierre B.

They have been playing well but not accumulating points on an equitable basis. Think they have leagues 13th best Corsi since the start of Feb with the toughest schedule, but not the 13 most points by a long shot so the two events are not mutually exclusive although they do generally align

Top line and newhook Roy , Xhekaj, Guhle Armia have been playing well, and some others showing inconsistency despite good games.

I project a finish of 5th last, with the team feeling good about not being far off from competing for the playoffs. Maybe they get a little lottery luck? Likely to see Hutson, excited for that. Maybe Mailloux although that’s not as likely.

A top 5 pick gives us a premium offensive player. We are unlikely to get a pick that high again for a long time so hope he is a high impact , prolific, exciting to watch player.


That’s fantastic,
They could get another Kotkaniemi or Reinbacher!