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Habs Mailbag: 5th Overall Prospect Target, Hutson’s Future, Trades



Montreal Canadiens

Welcome back to the Canadiens Mailbag!

This week we focus on draft questions, including the ideal target for the Habs, as well as the possibility they may move up or down in the first round. We also touch upon Lane Hutson’s potential, as well as free agency, and prospect analysis.

Let’s dive right in!


Ronald Jr Racette @rracette9 asks: Do you see Iginla picked at #5 or is it too high for hm?

If we base our judgment solely on pre-draft rankings, I’d argue Iginla at fifth overall is a tad high. McKeen’s has him ranked fifth, while Elite Prospects has him ranked sixth overall. We should note those are among the highest ranks of any independent outlet available at the moment.

Bob McKenzie‘s consolidated list, which uses scout input to build a consensus ranking, has Iginla 10th. The remaining lists have Iginla ranked somewhere between ninth and 23rd overall.

But we also have to remember the Canadiens’ list won’t match up with any other list around the league. Every team has a list with players they think should be ranked higher, and vice versa.

Thanks to his rough-and-tumble style, not to mention his penchant for heading to dirty areas on the ice, Iginla does project as the type of player who would fit perfectly into a Kent Hughes assembled team. And there are very strong odds he’ll be available once the Canadiens take to the podium.

I’d suggest the Canadiens’ priority list for forwards matches the one created by the fans on this site, with Ivan Demidov, Cayden Lindstrom, and Iginla leading the charge in terms of ideal draft targets.

If both Demidov and Lindstrom are off the board, then Iginla becomes a legitimate draft option alongside Berkly Catton, Cole Eiserman, and Beckett Sennecke.

However, if Iginla and the aforementioned back-up plans are available, this means there will be an opportunity to move down in the draft and still acquire a top-flight forward.

MUST READ: Canadiens – Value Of Moving Down And Cost Of Moving Up At The Draft

In that vein, drafting Iginla at fifth overall would be fine, depending on the order of the first four picks, but it would be even better if they managed to draft him lower in the draft while acquiring additional draft capital from teams hoping to move up in the draft.


The Arch @SCirculaire asks: Would it be stupid to consider putting Hudson at the wing on an strictly offensive 2nd line if he faces too much challenges at D ?

It’s never stupid to think outside the box.

But there’s a reason most logical approaches are found within the box.

Hutson has spent the entirety of his career practising, growing, playing, and thinking as a defenceman. If the goal is to transform him into a forward, he’d essentially have to put almost two decades of defensive instructions aside, which is counterintuitive for a defenceman, to say the least.

And then he’d have to play catch-up, as he’d be the player with the least experience at his position in the entirety of professional hockey.

Simply put, it’s a lot more difficult to switch positions than it is to improve on the deficiencies that are holding a player back.

The scene in Moneyball where Brad Pitt is trying to convince someone who has no experience to play at first base sums it up perfectly. Hutson is great at absorbing information and putting it into practice, but starting over at 20 years old is an incredibly difficult proposal.


@rylee_mtl Who was your favourite player to wear 34? For me, it has to be Peter Popovic. Just so underrated during those dark times.

Fourteen players have worn No.34 for the Montreal Canadiens, but let’s just say it hasn’t been a bastion of success, like many of the numbers in the organization.

Peter Popovic was fine, and Sergei Zholtok provided some semblance of offence during a time when the Canadiens scored as often as a castrated squirrel in springtime, but I would say my ‘favourite’ player to wear the number was Jake Allen.

He received a lot of criticism during his time in Montreal. To the point that he was actually underrated based on the eternal stream of insults sent his way on social media.

Remember, Allen was the one of the major reasons the Habs managed to qualify for the playoffs in 2021, which led to the most entertaining playoff run in recent Montreal Canadiens history.

He never complained despite being put in a very difficult situation by management, and he was the perfect teammate throughout, helping Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau despite knowing they were in the process of replacing him.

The term ‘good veteran’ is thrown around a little too often in hockey, but Allen truly epitomized the concept.

montreal canadiens no.34


Eli Keats @Newfie_EGK asks: What’s the likelihood of both Hutson and Mailloux spending the season with the Habs this season ?

Hutson will be given every opportunity possible to make the team. Given his unique skill set and the immediate impact he made during the last two games of the year, it will be hard to overlook him as the team attempts to take the next step in their rebuild.

The last goal of the year, which featured Hutson setting up Juraj Slafkovsky perfectly for his 20th goal of the year, was a good indication of what he already brings to the table. If the Habs want to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, they must significantly improve their special teams. The goal itself wasn’t a powerplay marker, but you can easily see how Hutson will provide great options once he acclimitizes himself to playing on an NHL powerplay.

With a full training camp under his belt and a little time to actually study the playbook, Hutson should quickly become a permanent fixture in the NHL. That’s not to say he won’t spend time in Laval, but I do expect him to play more games with the Canadiens than Mailloux, who still has a lot to work on before he’s ready for a full-time NHL role.

The good news is that Mailloux had a very good rookie season in the AHL, to the point that he was named as the Rocket’s representative at the All-Star game. He also looked great in the one game he played for the Habs last season. And given that the right side of the ice is a little less crowded than the left side, Mailloux will get an opportunity at camp to show his worth, but overall, his skill set is still rather raw, at least when compared to Hutson’s.

I expect Mailloux to start the year in the AHL, with the caveat that he’s among the first players that will be considered for a call-up should the Canadiens require reinforcements.


Alexandre David @alexdavid_84 Prospect most likely to over achieve expectations and the most likely to under achieve?

This is a legitimate question, especially since the Habs currently own roughly 824 prospects and 166 picks in the upcoming drafts.

The ugly truth is the majority of players won’t reach their potential, while a handful will overachieve.

I understand that’s not an ideal answer, but allow me to explain why I won’t name particular prospects.

I’ve come to realize that many players pay close attention to what is said on social media, which means there are healthy odds they’ll read the unreasonable amount of criticism sent their way.

When dealing with professional players, a certain amount of criticism is warranted. They tend to be well paid, and seeing as they have experience, they’ll have an easier time processing the negativity than their younger counterparts.

But when an 18-year-old reads that he’s not fast enough, or skilled enough to flourish in his desired industry, there are mental health considerations at play.

After hearing from many prospects who were happy with the coverage I have given them, I realized there must be as many, if not more prospects who were negatively impacted by my opinion.

And that’s not fair.

Imagine that you wanted to work in finance, but every day you’d see a slew of random people on the internet suggesting you’re simply not good enough. Some would use it as motivation, but the vast majority of people would have a really hard time understanding why someone they’ve never met is being overtly negative about their career aspirations.

Of course, we can’t be ignorant as to their shortcomings, and I’d be a hypocrite if I said I haven’t thrown some ugly daggers toward young players in my past, but I’d suggest we could do a much better job focusing on strengths when evaluating prospects, rather than focusing on weaknesses. If the first thing someone mentions about a prospect is negative, look for better coverage. It’s out there, I promise.

As for the player in the organization that has the most impressive list of strengths, I will put Owen Beck‘s name out there. I know some have doubted his overall potential due to his low scoring at times in the OHL, but seeing as he immediately started scoring at a higher rate once he was put into a situation that was conducive to producing, it’s clear that Beck is the type of player who adapts well to his situation, regardless of the challenge.

And that will bode incredibly well for his future NHL aspirations, especially when we consider he already owns a strong defensive acumen and is a wizard in the faceoff dot.


Alexandre David @alexdavid_84 asks Your preference vs your gut @5? Hopes for 27th pick? Thoughts of FA targets?

Since I dodged the last question as if I were filming a Ben Stiller movie, I will do my best to answer Alexandre’s follow-up question.

The Canadiens need impact players up front. With Celebrini out of the mix, I rate Ivan Demidov and Cayden Lindstrom as the next tier of available players. Either would fit nicely with the Habs. After those three, there’s a big gap in talent among forwards.

My gut is telling me the Habs are considering more than just those two at fifth overall. Beckett Sennecke and Tij Iginla are also in the mix.

As for the 26th overall pick, I am almost certain it will belong to another team by the time the first round begins. I’d be shocked If Hughes does not trade it to a team for a young player with potential, as he did when he traded for Alex Newhook.

If they do keep it, someone along the lines of Andrew Basha would be a nice add to the prospect pool.

As for free agents, I don’t see much in terms of ‘impact’ players that could be available with a reasonable contract. If Steven Stamkos wants to take a pay cut to play for a much worse team than the Tampa Bay Lightning, then the Canadiens would be foolish to ignore him, but there are few reasons for him to make such a choice.

Vladimir Tarasenko could be an interesting option. He’s a goal-scorer and there still seems to be some gas left in his tank at 32 years old. But again, it would have to be a reasonable contract, and those are few and far between when discussing free agents.


Marc Caron @Marc_Caron asks Draft goes Celebrini\Levshunov\Silayev. Do you make a trade for the 4th pick (trade up or keeping 5th, your choice) and what is your offer? Who are you targeting? Think Boston getting 3 consecutive draft picks, what would you do?

Seeing as Mike Milbury is no longer part of the league, we probably shouldn’t expect any movement among the top 5 picks, as most general managers are aware of the value discpreancy between picks, not to mention the high cost associated with moving up in the draft.

But let’s pretend there is a chance there will be movement early in the draft.

How much better is Demidov when compared to Lindstrom? I’d suggest he’s better, but not necessarily to the point that you would want to sacrifice a bevy of quality assets to secure his rights.

If the Blue Jackets would be willing to accept Joshua Roy as a sweetner to move down one spot, or someone of his ilk, then you make the move, but they’d probably look for more value than Roy, even if he has been excellent in his limited time playing in the NHL.

On that note, the man who drafted Roy (and many of the current members of the Canadiens) works for the Blue Jackets. Trevor Timmins knows most of the players on the team inside and out, which could lead to some interest from Columbus.

I would enquire to the cost, and I’d be willing to consider any price tag, as Demidov is clearly a prospect with game-changing potential, but ultimately, would likely stay pay and happily select Lindstrom with the fifth overall pick.


Pierre Proulx @lvaqmdbm asks I hesitate comparing Hutson to Bobby Orr for obvious reasons. Would a better comparison be Denis Savard? Or am I dreaming?

That’s a pretty solid comparison, though I don’t think Hutson will have the same goal-scoring prowess in the NHL as Savard did. If we take a look at most of his NCAA goals, it’s quite evident that the majority of his shots from the point were designed to create rebounds and second-chance opportunities for Boston University forwards.

The fact that so many of shots found the back of the net wasn’t necessarily due to his ability to walk the line and open shooting lanes for his linemates and himself, though that did help. More than anything, we have to acknowledge that for the most part, NCAA goaltenders are far from being NHL calibre, which connotes it won’t be a particularly effective strategy with the Canadiens, at least not for scoring goals.

MUST READ: How Lane Hutson’s Chaotic Approach Will Improve Slafkovsky And The Canadiens

This points to a scoreline that could perhaps be similar to Scott Niedermeyer‘s in terms of the points split.

I’m not saying he’ll be as good as Niedermeyer, as I consider the former Ducks player as one of the most underrated elite defencemen of our era, but I expect Hutson to set up many more goals than he scores thanks to his offensive awareness and ability to drive the offence from the backend.

He’ll also have to carry much less of the offensive workload as he did in the NCAA, which should lead to fewer individual efforts.

Terry @tfish65 asks: Any chance the Habs have made a decision with Fowler about going back for his sophomore year? Do they think he’s ready to turn pro? Have my doubts but maybe the brass think he’s ready.

There’s absolutely no rush when it comes to Jacob Fowler’s eventual ascension to the NHL. For now, he needs to play as many games a possible to be prepared for the rigours of professional hockey.

He still has a few things he needs to work on, including his positioning when the puck is going from behind the net to an awaiting forward in the slot. Fowler tends to sit a little too far back in his net during those situations, which gives opponents a fair amount of open net to aim at.

We also have to remember the Boston College Eagles were one of the most dominant teams in the country last year, which made things much easier on Fowler. A higher workload would serve him well.

Goaltenders take a long time to develop, as evidenced by Montembeault and Primeau, and I am certain Canadiens management are well aware that there are very few benefits involved with rushing a netminder to the NHL.

The slow-cooker approach is in order.

Set it, and forget it.

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We have the 26th pick from WPG, not the 27th. 😁




i am wondering if a three team trade is a possibility with Trevor Zegras going to Carolina, Martin Necas coming to Montreal, and Montreal sending the Ducks prospect Phil Inza Blank or a nice gift certificate which ever the Ducks prefer.


Lentourneau at 26 would be a good pick. A 6’7″ forward to play with Dach and Slafkovsky sounds pretty good to me.


Dean Letourneau has decided to go to Boston College next year, so he will not be able to jump into the lineup immediately.