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Biggest Questions for Canadiens Headed Into 2024 NHL Draft



Montreal Canadiens scouts

If the Montreal Canadiens are indeed aiming to be in the playoff mix for next season, they have quite the summer ahead of them.

It may have been another 28th-place finish for the Canadiens this season, but the progress was notable; giving general manager Kent Hughes the necessary data he needs to make some big changes.

The rebuild is certainly not over, but, after three drafts of picking in the top-10 and two summers of asset-hoarding, it seems the Canadiens have hit a new step in their rebuild.

It’s important not to repeat the mistakes of divisional rivals like the Ottawa Senators, who jumped the gun at the first glance of success and sacrificed prime assets only to fail to make the playoffs for last seven successive seasons.

If the goal is to improve, here are the biggest areas of concern heading into NHL draft in June 2024:


Another Draft-Time Trade?

Over the last two seasons, the Montreal Canadiens have been aggressive around the draft, not only in selecting young talent, but also in acquiring it via trade.

The Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook acquisitions have been big parts of the early steps of Kent Hughes’ rebuild plans.

However, it does feel like the Canadiens have to be nearing the time to make a move like the Vancouver Canucks did back in 2019 to acquire star forward J.T. Miller.

Miller may only have capped off as an elite player over the last two seasons, but adding an elite player via trade that grew with the core of the team is one of the main reasons the Vancouver Canucks sit at top of the Pacific division.

But who fits that kind of description?

Trevor Zegras, Martin Necas and possibly even Jordan Kyrou could be interesting targets for the Montreal Canadiens, as the Ducks, Hurricanes and Blues look primed to make some big moves this summer.

The Canadiens have the draft capital, including Winnipeg’s 1st-round pick and a boatload of prospects, to make an interesting package, as well as the necessary cap space to fit their salaries under the cap.

Is this the summer for the monster trade?

It would be more shocking that the Canadiens stand pat, but perhaps it may be a smaller move for an uber-talented youngster like Cole Perfetti, Kent Johnson or Alex Holtz that may be the gamble to take.

Needless to say, the Canadiens will be shopping for scoring this summer.



Which Defenceman Will be Traded?

The Montreal Canadiens have an overabundance of left-shot defencemen, which Kent Hughes admitted will help them on the trade front.

But who will the Habs look to move?

It’s easy to throw around names like Jordan Harris or Jayden Struble in the mix, and they do have value, but perhaps a more valuable piece will be required for a big trade.

Names like Logan Mailloux, Adam Engstrom or Justin Barron would likely hold more value in a trade at the moment, given their size and offensive ability.

But one shouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Canadiens taking calls on David Savard, who drew interest from a couple of interested teams at the trade deadline, like the New York Islanders.

Early playoff exits could increase the pool of interested candidates in his services, and with a rising salary cap, there could be a better fit to acquire some extra assets to help the club in future trades.


Will The Canadiens Draft a Forward?

Kent Hughes has mentioned that, if the best player available is a defenceman, they would consider either trading up or down in order come June 28.

Then, last week, he seemingly didn’t rule out the possibility of drafting a right-shot defenceman, after pointing out how stacked the team was with left-shooting defencemen.

It seemingly opens the door for the potential selection of top defencemen Artyom Levshunov or Zayne Parekh, if available, as either would instantly become the Canadiens’ brightest hope on defence. And, as has been said in a previous article, if one of those right-shot defencemen are available, which is more likely to be Parekh, the Canadiens will have to think about long and hard.

That being said, the priority does seem to be looking at a forward, with the likes of Cayden Lindstrom, Ivan Demidov, Tij Iginla, Cole Eiserman, Konsta Helenius and Berkly Catton at the top of the list.

However, the Canadiens opening the door to moving the pick was not only a message to the fans, but also to rival general managers.

Sources familiar with this year’s draft expect there to be a run of defencemen selected in the range of 2nd overall all the way down to sixth or seventh overall.

With the draft having five potential first-pair defencemen going in the top 10 the Canadiens could take advantage of their rival’s strong desire for defence or partake in the party themselves.

But, should the Canadiens draft a defenceman for their first pick, one should expect another move for a forward in to give Montreal’s current roster a boost in the short and long term.

The possibilities are endless.


Buckle Up

There’s still a little under two months until the 2024 NHL Draft, but the stage is set for an exciting summer for Canadiens fans.

With Kent Hughes looking primed and ready to help his young roster take the next step, the decisions taken this summer could be the most influential yet.

But, as always with this current edition of the Montreal Canadiens management team: expect the unexpected.

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Marco…do you know what the range of Winny’s #27 pick could be, now that they have been eliminated in the first rd?

The way I see it, for every one team below them in the standings gets to the conf finals, then Winny’s pick slides one spot. So if EDM makes the conf final, Winny’s pick slides one spot. If EDM plays the AVs in the conf final, then Winny’s pick slides another spot. Then if Boston also makes the conf final, then Winny’s pick slides another one spot.

So the best the Habs can do at this point is to get Winny’s pick at #24?


I still think it would take a boatload of picks/prospects/players, etc. to move up in the draft. Teams won’t make that type of deal unless they get an offer they can’t refuse…A.K.A, “the fleece”. No deals were made at last years draft, despite all the rumors circulating – likely because nobody wanted to get fleeced.

I don’t want to be the “fleecee”. Not at this point. Another Dach or Newhook deal is fine with me, but that should center around the later 1st rd pick from Winny, plus maybe a LD such as Engstrom or Harris or Struble. I would not trade LD Matheson yet…lets first make 100% certain that Hudson is on the team for good next season and is excelling. Then trade Matheson before the TDL for another 1st rd pick.

So unless we are the “fleecer” (say move up higher in the lottery, but trade back down for a fleece), we stay wherever we land in the lottery and draft there. The Habs greatest chances are #5 through #7. So much to the chagrin of many (including a certain “size guy” on this forum), that means both Demidov and Lindstrom will likely be gone. So barring any surprise (see below), that means its either Catton or Iginla for the Habs, since we need another top 6 winger.

However, if a surprise does occur again and the Habs indeed take another RDman, such as one of the two mentioned above, then that means either a trade for a top 6 winger will be made at the draft, or one is signed via free agency. But if this happens, expect a ton of backlash over this pick…as them those who were sternly against the Reinbacher pick last year will be out in full with their pitchforks and knives…


I somehow doubt the fan base would have felt “fleeced” had they traded the 5th pick for Cutter Gauthier.


You assume THAT was a deal. It probably was never on the table. But even if it was, I doubt just our 5th pic in 2023 would have done it. So yes, if more than just our 5th, then “fleeced”.


We turned down Cutter for our 5th overall… that was the offer that was on the table and we were not interested.

John Spearing

whichever one of Lindstrom or Demidov falls in our lap at 5 or 6 should be a no brainer for us… I fully expect one of them to be available with this years batch of D that will go early… I’m hoping for Lindstrom…
Jets pick with Harris for a guy like Kent Johnson would be a nice Dach/Newhook type of deal I’d be on board with… I don’t like overpaying for a smaller softer guy like Zegras (as talented as he is I don’t think he’s a good fit)…
If we don’t use the Jets pick to make a deal for a young player, I’d love to use the Jets pick with someone like Harris (maybe even throw in a Sean Farrel) to move back up for Tij in the early teens – but I don’t really expect that, I just want it 😉
I actually did a no trades 4 round mock today for fun and I took:
Lindstrom at 5
Hage with the Jets pick
O’Reilly in the 2nd…
Marrelli & Miettenin in the 3rd…
lil’ Koivu in the 4th

5 forwards with 1 RHD…
4 Canadians with 2 Fins…


I’d be thrilled with either of those two top choices. As you know we need quality at this stage so I am all for moving the jets pick plus other assets to move down to get another high end prospect such as Eiserman or Iginla.

Kent Johnson would be a good target but a #5 overall 21 year old will require a more enticing package than that. We have the assets to make it happen, should Columbus, who like us, has lots of draft capital and prospects, be willing to move him. But the idea has proven tested and has been a benefit for us.

New idea. What about moving one of our firsts next year for a first this year? Buffalo Ottawa Minnesota or the second Sharks pick etc might land us a high end forward if there is a strong run on defensemen. Our pick next year will likely be between 10-18. So if we top 7 protect it, we could use it or the other of the two firsts next year and have conditional protection for the other team as well so that it is range bound. Example if we get pick 12 this year and out first pick next year is 10-12, it’s straight up, 13-14, they get a third round puck next year and if our first falls between 15-20 they also get our second rounder next year. . My desire at this stage are high quality assets. And we are still primarily sellers at least until the next deadline with the likes of Savard and MM, Anderson , Armia a few young defenseman etc. which will add even more draft capital.

Plus that free agent crop next year is sensational!


I don’t think trading either of our picks from next year’s draft for one this year makes even an iota of sense. There are a lot of conditions on the extra 1st we got from Flames for Monahan–we r most likely to get Panthers 25 1st–and our own selection should definitely be off limits, period. Senators traded top picks far too early in their rebuild, look at them now. Trading a 1st from next year shouldn’t happen until we at least know what it will be worth. Those trades work great in the video games though as long as you’re good.


Thanks Greg, that’s why I floated the idea to get a sense of perspective. I do like stretching out the incoming talent to accommodate cap issues and mitigate risks of injuries, poor performance and other risks as it makes sense on all those levels. But I am of the mind that the sooner we get high end talent, integrate them and get them growth experiences, the sooner we become a force. Your Ottawa comp is not lost on me but I look at Buffalo, Anaheim, Columbus or Detroit etc and I don’t see the merit in the long patient game where they sell assets and draft patiently but are not rewarded- i guess it is situational?


not so sure it would take a lot more for Kent IF the Jackets are really ready to give up on him like some have suggested… he regressed this year and wasn’t even all that good in the AHL – but I see his upside and I think a change of scenes could get him back on track… that said I would never overpay, he’s another reclamation project.

As for trading next years picks for more picks this year – not a chance. We already have more picks than we need this year… not to mention there are too many conditions on the Flames pick to deal it and our own pick is completely off limits right now…


Columbus will be bringing in a new GM and there will likely be some hesitancy to move out any of their younger prospects eg Kent. But if he has personally spoken to the Team brass that he”d prefer to move on then maybe there is an opportunity to be had.

Pierre B.

For the late 2nd-round pick and one of the two early 3rd-round ones, I have 2 players from the QMJHL in my sight:

  1. Justin Poirier, described as the goalscorer with the most polished shooting mechanics of the draft, this stocky RW forecheking is borderline violent; he’s also amongst the youngest of this draft with a September birthday; I expect him to still be available because of his height; he’s between 5’7″ and 5’8″ depending on the source, but 181 lbs.
  2. Spencer Gill, described as a raw, athletic offensive RHD with the right physical tools (6’4″, 185 lbs); while there are doubts that he’ll ever make it to the NHL (that’s why he could still be available late in the 2nd or early 3rd), if he does, he has 2nd-pair two-way defenseman upside; he’s also amongst the youngest of this draft with a mid-August birthday.