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Canadiens 2024 NHL Draft Targets Starting To Emerge

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Montreal Canadiens Draft

The Montreal Canadiens will be picking in the top 10 again this season, and it appears they’re already hard at work narrowing their list of potential targets for the 2024 NHL Draft.

NHL betting odds have pegged the Canadiens as a probable bottom-five team for most of the season, and Montreal is right in the mix at this moment; holding down the 6th best odds for the NHL Draft Lottery.

Outside of an improbable lottery victory that would see the Montreal Canadiens draft NCAA phenom, Macklin Celebrini, the board is actually quite open at the moment in terms of potential targets in the 6th-8th overall range.

It appears that the Canadiens’ scouting team and upper management are already in the process of narrowing down their list.

We’ve already seen reports of their interest in power forward Cayden Lindstrom, and, if he were to magically slide to the Canadiens rank, he would likely be the pick.

However, in the high probability that Lindstrom will be gone by the time the Canadiens speak, recent reports this week have shed some light on more players whom the Canadiens could be targeting with their 1st-round pick.

 

Berkly Catton

According to TVA Sports’ Anthony Martineau, the dynamic forward is a player that the Montreal Canadiens have had a close eye on as of late, and who can blame them?

The 18-year-old has been one of the most impressive draft-eligible forwards in all of Canadian major junior this season. Building off an incredibly impressive Hlinka-Gretzky tournament for Team Canada this past summer, where he put up eight goals and 10 points in just five games, the dynamic forward  put up 54 goals and 116 points in just 68 games for the Spokane Chiefs.

At 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Catton isn’t the biggest or the heaviest, but he is arguably the most skilled player likely to be available in the second tier of the 2024 NHL Draft and his combination of skill and shooting ability makes him one of the rarer profiles available.

Martineau has reported that the Montreal Canadiens have already gone to meet the skilled youngster and have been monitoring him closely over the last few months as he continued to put up impressive offensive numbers.

Catton is a shoot-first, skilled forward who was able to carry his Spokane Chiefs to the WHL Playoffs this year, despite a very lacklustre roster. They were ultimately swept in four games by the Prince George Cougars, which now frees up Catton to join Team Canada at the U-18s and cement his name among the best of his age group.

It’s been said that Catton’s size may impede him from being a real target for the Canadiens, but the organization doesn’t seem phased at all; looking to dig deeper into a player that could go rather early on Draft Day.

 

Zayne Parekh

Perhaps the most dynamic defenceman in the entire draft, Zayne Parekh has had a season for the ages in the OHL this season for the Saginaw Spirit.

The 18-year-old rearguard put up a staggering 33 goals and 96 points in just 66 games; a feat that hasn’t been seen in the OHL for a draft-eligible defenceman in over 25 years.

In terms of pure offensive ability, Parekh and NCAA standout Zeev Buium are seemingly in another category than the rest of the class. Parekh not only led the Saginaw Spirit in scoring this season, he absolutely obliterated all of their franchise records.

What is currently holding the right-shot defenceman from being higher on most lists is largely due to some perceived inefficiencies in his defensive game and his commitment to playing a more physical game; which is not uncommon for young defencemen.

Playing a coveted position and having very unique skills, Parekh currently finds himself ranging between 5th and 10 overall on recent draft rankings, and the Montreal Canadiens seem to have him in that range as well.

While confirming the Canadiens’ interest in Catton, Martineau was also able to confirm that Montreal has met with Parekh a couple of times now; doing their due diligence on a likely draft target well before the NHL Combine in June.

It may be an underwhelming possibility for Canadiens fans who are hoping for the Canadiens to select a top forward in this draft, but a player of Parekh’s ilk would likely cement the Canadiens’ backend as the most promising in the NHL.

And, it would allow them to utilize some of their existing defencemen in bigger trades. Rest assured, if Parekh’s name is called out on June 28, there will likely have been a subsequent move for a forward to help the Canadiens’ roster immediately, similar to 2022 with Kirby Dach and 2023 with Alex Newhook.

 

Tij Iginla

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the Canadiens’ range, Tij Iginla, son of Jarome, has rocketed up the rankings this season after an explosive season with the Kelowna Rockets.

As of of the younger players in the 2024 NHL Draft, Iginla has done nothing but improve in a big way since the start of the season with the Rocket, ultimately posting 47 goals and 84 points in 64 games.

His strong two-way play, coupled with his elite rush offence and goal-scoring mechanics have pushed him from a mid-first-round pick to a surefire top-10 pick. Possessing that coveted left-shot goal-scoring ability the Canadiens currently lack outside of Juraj Slafkovsky, Iginla may not be the sexy pick for the Montreal Canadiens faithful, but you simply cannot deny that ridiculous progression curve and wonder where his ceiling truly lies.

And that’s something the Montreal Canadiens have been hard at work at figuring out, according to BPM Sports’ Stephane Gonzalez, who confirmed that the Habs’ brass has already met with Iginla a handful of times.

This isn’t surprising in the slightest, considering their last two major first-round selections, Juraj Slafkovsky and David Reinbacher, were also risers who showed an exceptional progression curve in their draft years.

Iginla continues to show his exceptional growth in the WHL playoffs so far, leading the Rockets in scoring with six goals in four games. Kelowna may get by the first round, thanks in large part to Iginla’s play, but it’s expected that Iginla will join Catton and Team Canada for the U-18s should Kelowna fall in the second round.

Needless to say, Iginla’s combination of skill, scoring, power and speed make him one of the prime candidates for the Canadiens, as he continues to rocket (pun intended) up the rankings.

 

*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel