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Canadiens 2024 Draft: Demidov, Hage, Celine Dion & The Future

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montreal canadiens ivan demidov

The Montreal Canadiens stole the show at the 2024 NHL Draft on Friday night, and not only because they landed one of the most talented players in the entire draft class.

With all due respect to every other franchise, few, if any draft selections can match the star power we witnessed when the legendary singer Céline Dion was invited on the stage by the Habs. We do have to give some consideration to the Tim Stützle pick announced by Ottawa native Alex Trebek, in 2020, however, Dion’s appearance in Las Vegas was the perfect combination of Vegas lore and Québécois pride.

While it’s true that NHL players lack a certain spice to their personality, the Habs came up with a great alternative to add a little excitement to the mix while also maintaining the integrity of the draft as they flexed their celebrity muscle. It remains to be seen if the NHL will eliminate the in-person draft going forward, as has been suggested, but if they do return to The Sphere in the near future, it would be fantastic to see other franchises follow suit when it comes to the presentation of their top draft picks.

Montreal Canadiens Draft Picks In 2024

As for the actual picks made at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, it’s safe to say the Canadiens are leaving Las Vegas with one of the most talented players available, Ivan Demidov. Pre-draft nerves led to Demidov dropping to the Habs, though it should be noted that most of the worries regarding top Russian prospects are unfounded. When’s the last time a Russian prospect refused to report to the NHL team that drafted him? The answer is never. On the other hand, NCAA players dictate their future with more regularity every year. I fully support the idea that prospects should have more power to make career choices, or at the very least, have some input, but we should perhaps re-evaluate our perception when it comes to prospect loyalty from various leagues.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: Montreal Canadiens Hit Home Run With Ivan Demidov Pick

Demidov has one year left on his contract with SKA St-Petersburg, and he’s expected to join the Habs thereafter. We don’t want to shovel too much coal into the hype train, but Canadiens fans are in for a treat once he’s ready to come to North America. Demidov is the epitome of an elite talent, which is exactly what the team needed to push their prospect pool to the top of the NHL rankings. With Demidov in the system, not to mention Michael Hage, the Canadiens now have depth and talent at every position, a very comfortable situation given they’re preparing to take the next step in the rebuild.

Hage projects as a great value pick at 21st overall, bringing a well-rounded skill set to the table that includes strong offensive instincts. You could consider him a late bloomer, as he significantly improved his play during his draft year. That was a recurring theme for the Canadiens this weekend, they banked on a few overagers and players who found their rhythm a little later than most. Aatos Koivu, son of Saku, is another prime example of betting on recent growth as the strongest indicator of someone’s overall potential. It’s not an ironclad strategy, but many scouts will suggest the second half of the draft season is more indicative of their value than the rest of their junior careers combined.

Koivu doesn’t have to follow in the footsteps of his father, as no one is expecting him to one day carry the weight during some of the darkest years in franchise history, but his mere presence in the organization is sure to put a smile on the face of Canadiens fans who never had a chance to watch the dynasty teams of yesteryear.

You’ll note that many outlets will give the Canadiens a good grade for their top picks, and rightfully so. Demidov is arguably the most talented prospect in the modern era of the franchise, while Hage and Koivu represent two players with relatively healthy odds to carve out a permanent job in the NHL. Statistically speaking, that’s a good result for any player picked outside the top 15.

Closing Out The Draft

Admittedly, day two lost a lot of its steam once the Montreal Canadiens chose Koivu with the 70th overall pick, though the scouts I spoke to during and after the draft suggested the Canadiens hit on a few good players when they chose Logan Sawyer (78th overall), Owen Protz (102nd overall), and Tyler Thorpe (130th overall). Sawyer isn’t as big as his 6’4″ and 6’5″ counterparts, nor is he as truculent, but he has the type of work ethic that should quickly endear him to his coach at any level, yet another recurring theme for the 2024 draft class.

Simply put, if the Habs called your name at the podium this weekend you either possess elite talent, a great work rate, or an above-average frame, the three things general manager Kent Hughes tends to weigh the most in every player-related decision.

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Dana

Who would be the most exciting pick( at the time of selection) since Doug Wikenheiser in 1980 if not Demidov? Svoboda from under the bleachers in 1984? Even Slafkovsky wasn’t this exciting for me , and I thought Brule was the guy, not Price( nobody’s perfect)

Fire wagon hockey is on its way back, I’ll go out in a limb and claim he will be our best drafted offensive player since Stephane Richer. If the first line continues to grow and I think it will by magnitude over the next several years, and if Demidov and Dach click with a high talent (and gritty) LW then you have 2 lines burning through red light bulbs. And think of tge offense the D will provide in a few short years especially with that group of forwards to work with. And then the next wave of offense comes from Roy, Beck and Newhook combo on the third line.
Fire wagon hockey will is making a comeback! The NHL claims the next golden age of hockey is now, I’d say give it a few more years…. Exciting times as the roster pieces emerge and we build towards contender status in a few years.

Habsie

And you didn’t even mention Fowler, I’m hoping he’s our next star goaltender.

Dana

You’re right Habsie, but in my next post from yesterday where I celebrate the rockstar ( sorry billy idol) performance of Kent Hughes. I mentioned the 3 intriguing goalie prospects in paragraph 3.
I’m notoriously long winded but yes he has addressed the future of the crease. Miller and Dobes plus Fowler seem to secure the net long term.

Can I ask if you were deciding, would you acquire Askarov?

Pierre B.

Prior to this draft, the CH had 4 top-6 forwards with top-line success (Caufield, Suzuki, Slafkovsky, Dach) and 2 high-end middle-6 forwards who could well complete the top-6 (Newhook, Roy). Even if Demidov is still a prospect, given that he projects as a superstar, we can reserve him a spot on the top-6 and the 1st PP unit. The current top-line will continue to learn to play with each other so it’s natural to build a second line around Dach and Demidov. I like the idea of Roy playing with them as he’s smart enough to play with better players (see WJC when he was supporting Bedard); he’s great at recovering pucks, passing it and he’s a good sniper. Newhook could be an interesting option also because of the speed he provides. We can hope that the addition of Hage could in time provide a 3rd option. However, we have to wait to see how he compares to the likes of Beck, Farrell, Heineman, Kapanen and Mesar. He’s likely at least three years away from the NHL.

P.S. I like the U25 center line that Hughes has assembled: Suzuki, Dach, Newhook, Beck, Kapanen, Hage and Xhekaj, F.; obviously some will have to play wing when everyone is healthy.

Dana

Whole heartedly agree Pierre, Roy is an enhancer of linemates, regardless of who they are. He has a lot of Mark Stone in his game. He and Demidov are right wingers so we either clone Slafkovsky or find another large high end gritty left winger like a Brady Tkachuk( I shouldn’t mention Kotkeniami was taken 1 spot ahead of him) or Matt Boldy etc- we have a lot of assets to make it happen. Or Malcom Spense or the Guite kid in Chicoutimi or Jack Murtagh are good fits and highly ranked in next years draft, at this stage. Or next years free agents include verhage and Lafreniere although neither will hit the market.

With our window of true contender 3 or 4 years out, we have time to find the right solution, but I’d prefer to resolve it by the start of 25/26 seadon.

Dana

Wanted to give a shout out to Kent Hughes. I was reviewing the Habs drafts by year all the way back to the 80’s and he has already matched the two most successful draft years post the 80’s-1998 ( Ribero, Beauchemin, Markov, Ryder) and 2007 (McDonough, Pacioretti, PK Subban and maybe Yannick Weber) as producing the most NHL significant players.

His first year with Slafkovsky, Hutson, Beck and maybe one more( Mesar or Engstrom) has built on the foundation he inherited. These 3 are very significant players as each contributes a different high end toolbox.

Last year with Reinbacher, Florian X, who I project has a ceiling as an elite 4 liner, and 3 intriguing goalie prospects, he filled in more gaps with complimentary but unique skill sets. And yes, I was highly annoyed at Reinbacher over Michkov, but I’m working on it, lol Does Konyushkov eventually come over and contribute?

Now he adds Demidov and Hage and maybe another nhl player or two of significance?

It appears that he has drafted 8 guys in just 3 years that could have significant nhl careers. Little easier to do when you’re drafting low and have a deficient roster but that doesn’t tarnish what is a very significant and difficult task. That’s 8/23 roster spots plus his Dach and Newhook adds make 10 or nearly half the roster!! He had Suzuki , Caufield, Mailloux, The Sheriff, Roy and Guhle of the future roster when he arrived Plus we have 2 more firsts next year in addition to a lot of other pucks and a bunch of marketable veterans in Savard and MM,, Armia and Anderson and maybe Gally or Dvorak in the right circumstances. Then there are young nhl ready Harris, Stribbke, Barron, Kovacevic on the blue line. Who or what can we get with all these assets?

Plus, he is managing the cap as good as it better than anyone else. And consider the way he handled Monahan and Petry and worked with them to get to a preferred situation and thereby continued to create a culture of trust which helps attract free agents and negotiate mutually beneficial contracts, attracts advertisers and creates increased demand for merchandise internationally as the brand shines. Brilliant work. Oh, and he surrounds himself with excellent people like his head coach and his advisors and medical people and support staff.

A few months ago, I saluted Kent and Jeff and stated that in the future, I wonder if sport executives will use their accelerated rebuild and peripheral management as a case study of effectiveness?

Well done Kent Hughes, you are an elite GM. Go Habs Go!