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More Emerging Montreal Canadiens 2024 NHL Draft Targets

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Top prospects for the 2024 NHL draft Montreal Canadiens

In a recent article, Marco D’Amico identified some emerging Montreal Canadiens draft targets.

With the standings solidified we now have a better sense of where Kent Hughes and his team will be selecting their new shiny toy.

That said, apart from a consensus number-one pick in Macklin Celebrini, trying to predict the order of the players selected in the top 10 is as impossible as avoiding potholes while driving on Quebec’s spring roads.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some other potential draft targets the Montreal Canadiens may be happy to nab on June 28.

Ivan Demidov

While it appears the Montreal Canadiens were shy to gamble on Matvei Michkov at last year’s draft, likely due to the so-called “Russian factor” and the uncertainties caused by the war in Ukraine, there’s a real possibility they face a similar dilemma, this summer.

Russian winger Ivan Demidov has been torching the MHL (Russia’s junior league) all year with 23 goals and 37 assists in 30 games and hasn’t cooled down in the playoffs. He currently has 15 goals and 11 assists in just 15 playoff games.

Regardless of the points total, the sheer display of dominance has been a treat to watch.

Demidov’s tantalizing stick handling, accurate shot, and dazzling edge work would make him the de facto best Montreal Canadiens forward prospect.

With one remaining year to his contract, he is not expected to re-sign in the KHL – making the jump to North America as soon as the 25/26 season. The fact he has been playing in the MHL, rather than the VHL or KHL, is likely a punishment for his intentions to jump ship on the first occasion.

So while his development path likely stagnates in the MHL next year – preventing him from facing top-notch competition and developing pro habits – the good news is he will reportedly gladly hop on the first plane to join his NHL team as soon as his contract expires.

It can be argued he’s the second-best forward prospect in this year’s draft, but will he be taken in the top five – or just outside, where the Montreal Canadiens could pounce on him?

Hard to tell.

Cole Eiserman

Touted as the potential number-one prospect at the start of the season, Eiserman’s slide through the rankings has been spectacular – and perhaps greatly exaggerated.

While he may not be the playdriver on his line – nor a defensive specialist, he’s a good skater with a solid frame at 6 foot, 196 lbs, who brings an invaluable skill in today’s game: goal scoring.

Let me re-phrase: goals galore!

Eiserman only trails Cole Caufield for the U.S. National Team Development Program’s most goals of all-time and for a single season, with 118 (to Caufield’s 126), also beating the likes of Austin Matthews for most goals in a season.

However, Eiserman played 12 fewer games and still finished with the same number of career points as Caufield (180).

Perhaps better defensive awareness, puck control, and puck management can be imparted to round out his game, but with the goal-scoring potential he has, these should be secondary things to worry about.

We don’t hear a lot about Alex Ovechkin’s defensive game, do we? Simply because he makes up for it the same way Eiserman could.

Artyom Levshunov / Zeev Buium

In Kent Hughes’ exit interview, he hinted that the priority would likely be to draft a forward with the pick they hold.

However, it isn’t impossible to imagine a scenario (although unlikely) where all the top forwards they covet are taken, and a legitimate top defender miraculously slides to their rank.

It’s unclear how the Montreal Canadiens front office appraises the ceiling of all their current defensive prospects and players, but they could legitimately feel they have a slew of potential number two to four defencemen without a clear-cut, bonafide number one prospect in the pipeline.

No disrespect to Kaiden Guhle, David Reinbacher, or Lane Hutson, but it’s possible this management group would view Artyom Levshunov or Zeev Buium as more complete players with higher upside.

Levshunov (6’2, 209 lbs, RD) is ranked as the top defenceman of this draft by many, and the brilliance of Buium (6′, 183 lbs, LD) in high-profile events such as the World Juniors, and more recently at the NCAA’s Frozen Four, has seen his stock rise.

Both play in the NCAA, where Levshunov (Michigan State) tallied 35 points in 38 games, whereas Buium (Univ. of Denver) notched 50 points in 42 contests, en route to the NCAA championship.

They’re both highly skilled puck movers with elegant skating strides, fantastic mobility, natural offensive flair, abilities, and high-end hockey acumen.

For the Montreal Canadiens’ management, drafting a top-end defenceman could make it easier to trade another one for a young forward. We recently saw the Anaheim Ducks take advantage of this strategy, as they flipped defenceman Jamie Drysdale for blue chip centerman, Cutter Gauthier.

Could the Habs be tempted to employ the same approach?