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Underrated Canadiens Draft Targets With The 26th Overall Pick

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montreal canadiens draft targets yegor surin

We’ve already discussed some of the Canadiens draft targets if they end up drafting with the 26th overall pick, with Aron Kiviharju, Terik Parascak, Cole Hutson, Andrew Basha, and Jett Luchanko emerging in the first group of potential players.

For the most part, those players are ranked higher than 26th overall according to many independent rankings, which means it’s time to take a look at players who are perhaps ranked lower than the aforementioned prospects, but still carry an exciting amount of raw potential.

Yegor Surin, C/RW, Shoots Left, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL). 42 GP: 22 G, 30 A, 52 PTS.

Height: 6’1″. Weight: 192 lbs.

Yegor Surin is not necessarily expected to be drafted in the first round, as his pre-draft rankings vary significantly. Some outlets expect him to be a late first-round pick, while many point to him being available in the second round. Unfortunately, the Canadiens do not own their second-round pick this year, as it was sent to the Arizona Coyotes as part of the disastrous Christian Dvorak trade, and now belongs to the Winnipeg Jets. They do, however, own Colorado’s second-round pick, acquired in the Artturi Lehkonen trade, and that is slated to be 57th overall.

The odds that Surin will be available at 57th feel low, especially since teams are starting to smarten up when it comes to good-value draft picks. This leaves the Habs in a somewhat difficult position. Drafting Surin 26th overall could be a risky proposal, and yet the very same could be said about missing the opportunity to add someone like him to the prospect pool.

Of course, the team could explore moving down from the fifth and 26th-overall picks, which could lead to the Canadiens acquiring more draft capital, making a Surin selection not only good value, but realistic.

There’s very little to dislike when it comes to his skill set. He projects as the prototypical Kent Hughes pick: Good size, great work rate, and enough speed and talent to make an impact.

It’s always difficult to project how players developing in Russia will adapt to North American hockey, but it should be noted that Surin played in the MHL last year. For broad stroke purposes, the MHL is roughly equivalent to the CHL, whereas the VHL lines up with the AHL, and the KHL is their answer to the NHL.

Dean Letourneau, C, Shoots Right. St-Andrew’s College (PHC). 14 GP: 14 G, 11 A, 25 PTS.

Height: 6’7″. Weight: 209 lbs.

Dean Letourneau is one of the most interesting players in the draft, and not only because he can catch birds with a rake. Of course, being 6’7″ at 18 years old will always create a certain level of interest among NHL players, but we should note that tall forwards rarely become impact players in the NHL. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Letourneau will be a bust, but just like most teams increase their interest in tall players, I tend to go the other way.

There’s also the matter of the league in which he played last season, the Prep Hockey Conference (PHC). It’s certainly not on the level of the CHL or USHL, which casts some doubts as to his overall production rate with St-Andrew’s College.

Of course, we’d be foolish to ignore that he almost reached two points per game in his 14 games in the top league, and there’s also the matter of Letourneau scoring 61 goals and 66 assists in 56 games with St-Andrew’s under-18 team.

His production will surely vault him into the conversation in terms of legitimate Canadiens draft targets with the 26th overall pick.

He also plays a much smaller game than you’d expect from a 6’7″ forward, but that’s not intended to be a complaint. Most tall players tend to be described in the following manner: ‘He skates pretty well… for a big guy.’ That’s scout talk for a big player who would lose a race to a combine harvester.

The good news in Letourneau’s case is that he skates well. Full stop.

He also has a nose for the net, which he uses to create chaos in the offensive zone. His stick handling could be improved, but overall, he does project as a player with size AND legitimate NHL potential.

His two games in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede did not lead to Letourneau registering his name on the scoresheet, but it did confirm that he’s more than just a player who uses his physical advantages to make an impact on a nightly basis.

 

Lucas Pettersson, C, Shoots Left. MoDo J20 (J20 Nationell)  44GP: 27 G, 30 A, 57 PTS.

Height: 5’11″. Weight: 172 lbs.

For the most part, Lucas Pettersson is ranked outside the first round by many independent outlets. On that note, Bob Mckenzie’s consolidated rankings have him at 30th overall, and a handful of outlets have followed suit.

Pettersson is a cerebral forward who uses his opponents’ defensive positioning to guide his decision-making. This means he waits until his opponents makes their first move, and then quickly adapts to the situation with a play that keeps defending players on their toes. His anticipation and creativity have served him well, and though he almost scored as many goals as he did assists, he does project as a playmaker, first and foremost.

Beyond his play making, some of his offensive greatest strengths are his accuracy and shot selection, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue he’s a purely offensive prospect rather than a well-rounded, two-way player.

 

Matvei Gridin, Forward, Shoots Left. Muskegeon Lumberjacks (USHL)  60GP: 38 G, 45 A, 83 PTS.

Height: 6’1″. Weight: 185 lbs.

The final player we’ll examine also happens to be the leading scorer in the USHL this season, Matvei Gridin.

He projects as a player maker, but we would be foolish to ignore his 38 goals, which ranks fourth overall in the league, just four goals behind the league’s most prolific scorer.

As for where he’s expected to be drafted, the pre-draft rankings are all over the place. Elite Prospects, one of the most valuable draft resources available, has Gridin ranked 91st, easily the lowest ranking among all available lists. Bob McKenzie has him going in the first round, 29th overall, whereas companies like McKeen’s expect him to be a second-round pick.

Gridin has a great release, which lulls goaltenders into a false sense of security. He also combines his sneaky release with great accuracy, one of the main reasons he led the Lumberjacks in scoring this year. It should also be noted, he outscored teammate Sacha Boisvert by a fairly healthy margin. Boisvert is expected to be picked somewhere in the middle of the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

If there was one evident criticism to be had, it’s that he tends to spend most of his time on the perimeter, which limits a lot of his second-chance scoring opportunities.

That’s not uncommon in the USHL, but it won’t fly in the NCAA, where Gridin has committed to playing with the University of Michigan next season.

 


If there is a player you think should be considered among Canadiens draft targets, make sure to list him in the comments below the article.

Yegor Surin’s prospect comparison card created by HockeyProspecting.com.