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Canadiens Draft Intentions, RFA Signings, Trade Talk, and UFAs

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Montreal Canadiens Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, Jeff Gorton, met with the media on Thursday evening, discussing several topics ahead of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

We have to keep in mind that members of the management won’t divulge much at this point of the season, especially when it comes to draft intentions, trade targets, or restricted free agency, but Gorton did offer up some new information as to the fate of certain restricted free agents. The Habs are going to qualify both Justin Barron and Arber Xhekaj, which was to be expected, but they are not going to tender forward Jesse Ylonen a qualifying offer, which essentially makes the end of his time with the team. Of course, the Habs could always let him become a free agent and sign him for less than his qualifying offer, but that doesn’t seem to be the route the team is going to take when it comes to the 24-year-old tweener.

Gorton also said he was impressed with the meeting he had today with top 2024 prospect Ivan Demidov.

Jeff Gorton On Scouting In Russia

“Everyone thinks differently, and it’s a little harder when you can’t get your whole organization there to see players live, that changes things a little. But we adapted during the Covid period, and we’re pretty good at it now. We also have a good feel for Russian players since we have good people there.”

Jeff Gorton On The Similarities Between Matvei Michkov and Ivan Demidov

“They’re two different players. You scout players, you evaluate them. We’re in the business of finding the best player, and that’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t think those two players are related, and it has no bearing on what we’ll do tomorrow.”

Jeff Gorton On The Montreal Canadiens Draft Intentions

“I know Kent [Hughes] made a big speech about taking a forward, to have fun with you guys, but it’s very hard [to discuss what we’ll do]. This is the day before the draft, and the rare a lot of cameras here. I’d be uncomfortable discussing it.

Jeff Gorton On Taking The Next Step

“We’re looking at a lot of scenarios, that’s our job. You always want to have a better team when you come back. That’s what we’re in the process [of doing] now. It would be nice to come back and add to the group. We’re a rebuilding team. It’s boring to say, but we’re trying to get better every day.”

Jeff Gorton On The 2024 NHL Entry Draft

“This draft is similar to others. I can’t say this draft is better than last year, or is going to be better than next year. I find that scouts always find a few great players at every position, that’s what they do. There’s a lot of good players in this draft, a lot of opportunities to get better. Last year, I felt the same way.”

Jeff Gorton On Potential No.5 Overall Trades

“I feel confident we’re picking at No.5. I don’t want to say 100%, and the phone is still ringing, things are happening, but five is a great opportunity for us. It’s a season where you want to take advantage of the draft since you’re a lottery team.”

Jeff Gorton On Trades In General

“We are armed with a lot to trade, to make trades happen. We’re in a lot of conversations that we wouldn’t be in if we weren’t. If there was a deal, I wouldn’t tell you. I know it’s redundant, but we’ll look at anything. We’re trying to win. We’re trying to move this thing forward, and this is a big weekend for that.”

MUST READ: 2024-25 Montreal Canadiens Salary Cap Outlook – A Summer Of Opportunity

Jeff Gorton On Free Agency

“We’ve gone through the scenarios, of what kind of players we might be looking at. We’ll see on Monday whether or not those people think the same way we do. I think we have the ability to be better, and we’re going to try to do that. We have a lot of young players that are developing. I wouldn’t want to stunt someone’s growth with a long term deal for an older player.”

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C-dot

Too, or two different players, that is the question?! Come on Marc, be better than average

Darryl

Hahahaha. That’s an appropriate response to someone intentionally being a dick. He reads the entire article and that’s his takeaway.

Tyrone

😂👍

William O'Neill

Best line was the last one. Do not stunt the growth of our youth.

Greg

That would be the smart play, waiting until next year. The number of fans on here that seem to think the Habs are one or two players from being a contender makes me sad.
Yeah, pointing out a typo and nothing else shows a lack of class.

Tyrone

Especially when you consider that teams ahead of us in their rebuilds like Buffalo, Detroit and Ottawa still haven’t made the playoffs, and we still have to go through the trials and tribulations teams have to endure once they think they’re ready. Look at the Laughs. They have won 1 playoff series despite being at the top of the league year after year. They’ve vastly improved their team defense. Their best players play a much better 200ft game than they used to, and they still haven’t done diddly squat in the playoffs. All of these “lessons” are still ahead of us.

Dana

Tell it to the Panthers and golden knights and see where they were 4 or 5 years ago. Recall how Chicago Boston LA and Tampa won multiple cups. Yes there are more losers as only 1 can win every year but because Ottawa and Buffalo and Toronto failed to date doesn’t mean we will too. There are no guaranteed Cups, all management can do is build a roster that has a good chance to win by blending skill size speed toughness intelligence and character, big game performer types, etc and then hoping you get some breaks along the way. I like our direction a lot. I’m interested greatly in what Grier and Davidson, Briere and Verbeek etc do as those will likely be the teams rising up with us in a few years.

Tyrone

Thankfully, they’re all in the Western Conference, so we won’t have to worry about any of them until we meet them in the Stanley Cup finals. 😁

Dana

We got Demidov!! Never thought he’d be available.

We will win the cup next 10 year😜😂😆

Tyrone

Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaaawwwwww!!!!!!!

Dana

Im one of the guys that think we are 2 top 6 forwards from having a very competitive roster. The other ingredient, which I’ve stated frequently, is time. Time to develop the kids- Reinbacher Hutson Mailloux Roy, Pick at 5 and the other high impact winger for the second line if we don’t sign or trade for him, plus Slafkovsky, Dach and Caufield are a year or two from their primes. The Xhekaj brothers will benefit from a few years experience. What would those guys look like a few years from now?? I’ve excluded goaltending as I’d like to give this duo a full year or two and also monitor the prospects for 2 years before determining how that critical piece of the puzzle fits, but I’d take askarov now in a flash and not worry about it later.

Timeline is being a bit outside the playoffs next year, just making it in 25-26, becoming a problem in 26-27 and being a true contender thereafter. Why is that so unbelievable?