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Habs Wrap: 2024 Draft Coverage, Demidov, Koivu, Trade

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MONTREAL — There’s always Montreal Canadiens content to absorb, but there are only so many hours in a day, especially in a week that includes the NHL Entry Draft. On Sundays, we recap the most exciting and relevant NHL news stories that you may have missed throughout the week so that you can stay in the Canadiens loop.

Monday

ICYMI: Just a few weeks after signing a three-year contract extension with the organization, Laval Rocket head coach Jean-Francois Houle accepted a job in the NCAA to serve as Clarkson’s head coach. With an important job opening in play, the Montreal Canadiens should have plenty of options moving forward.  [3 Potential Coaching Targets For Canadiens AHL Affiliate]

Top Winnipeg Jets prospect Rutger McGroarty is reportedly being shopped, as talks between the talented winger and the organization have collapsed. He won’t come with a cheap price tag, but McGroarty is the exact type of player the Habs need in their lineup. [Canadiens Trade Talk: Top NHL Prospect Reportedly Available]

Houle’s abrupt departure was surprising, but it does come as the team is going through a multitude of changes, signalling a new chapter in the Laval Rocket’s history. Several top Habs prospects will be joining the fold shortly. [Canadiens AHL Outlook: A Fresh Start For Many Key Prospects]

Just in case anyone thinks top 2024 prospect Ivan Demidov is overrated, take a look at his tracking profile.

Tuesday

The Montreal Canadiens have 12 draft picks scheduled for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, but as we all know, not all picks were created equal. The odds a player will become a regular NHLer, or even a star player, plummet significantly as the draft unfurls. Take a look at the odds associated with the draft picks the Canadiens currently own.  [Montreal Canadiens 2024 Draft Pick Positions And NHLer Odds]

Monday marked the three-year anniversary of one of the best moments in recent Canadiens history, when Artturi Lehkonen scored an overtime goal to propel the Habs into the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The game also took place in Montreal, on la SaintJeanBaptiste day, which led to one of the most entertaining and passionate celebrations I’ve witnessed in my time covering hockey.

Following the win, Habs owner Geoff Molson took to centre ice to ask everyone in attendance to stay in the building, as the crowd outside the arena had already reached a boiling point. Regardless, by the time we were finally let out the celebration was still going strong, despite the Montreal police force attempting to disperse crowds with the use of horses and tear gas. It was a cathartic situation for fans, and not only because of the win. The series came shortly after Covid restrictions had been relaxed a little, presenting the first opportunity for a shared cultural moment since the sports world came to a screeching halt.

Considering Brett Kulak brought an important stabilizing presence to an otherwise shaky defensive group, the Oilers must still be happy with the trade they made to acquire the stalwart defender. And, of course, the Habs ended up picking Lane Hutson with the draft pick the Oilers sent their way in the trade, which makes for a rare win-win situation for both teams.

 

Wednesday

Bob McKenzie’s much anticipated 2024 First Round Draft Rankings have been revealed. McKenzie’s list is based off the consensus of NHL scouts, which means the order in which the players are presented won’t necessarily align with any previously published mock drafts, but it does offer interesting insight as to how the league views the top prospects. Macklin Celebrini took the top spot, as expected, followed by Ivan Demidov, Artyom Levshunov, Anton Silayev, and Cayden Lindstrom. Forwards Konsta Helenius, Tij Iginla, and Cole Eiserman were ranked 8th, 9th, and 15th, respectively. [McKenzie Draft Rankings Give Insight To Canadiens Picks]

Former Canadiens captain Shea Weber was named as part of the 2024 NHL Hockey Hall of Fame inductee class. Say what you will about the fact that Weber’s contract remains in effect until 2026, or that the questionable cutoff put in place by Hall leaves something to be desired, but there’s no doubt he put together an impressive career, both in and outside the NHL. Weber essentially won a gold medal at every international tournament in existence, while putting together great seasons for the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens in the NHL. Few players around the hockey landscape have matched his success rate while representing their country, an important consideration when we remember the Hockey Hall of Fame was not created simply to recognize NHL accomplishments.  [Former Canadiens Captain Inducted To Hockey Hall Of Fame]

It’s impossible to recreate a Stanley Cup winning roster. When it comes to professional sports, there are simply too many factors in play to chase the meta. But you can draw some important conclusions when evaluating Cup-winning lineups, with the most important being that you need star players to win 16 games in the playoff. The Habs have one player that’s considered a ‘career star’ in captain Nick Suzuki, but there are a handful of players that could join him in the future. [Star Power: Canadiens Lessons Learned From Stanley Cup Final]

Thursday

The Montreal Canadiens will meet with top prospect Ivan Demidov ahead of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. This will not be the first time the parties have spoken, as the team has been in contact with the talented forward throughout the year.  Even though Demidov is considered the second-most talented player available this year, the same narratives we heard last season about Matvei Michkov have come to the surface. It’s worth noting that despite many suggesting Michkov would not come to North America, he is expected to sign an entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the coming days. Before anyone gets too excited, Demidov also met with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks recently. [Pre-Draft Nerves Improve Odds Demidov Available To Canadiens]

It’s difficult to get a good read on how the first round will unfold, but we do have a good idea of how some teams are expected to draft in the top five. The Blackhawks have shown great interest in Artyom Levshunov, while the Anaheim Ducks may consider a player like forward Beckett Sennecke instead of defenceman Anton Silayev.  [Canadiens Draft Talk: Analyzing Intentions For NHL Teams In Top 5]

A submission for the ‘It’s not going to happen, but it would be fun if it did,’ category as, the Canadiens have been given 33/1 odds of landing potential free agent Leon Draisaitl next summer. [Leon Draisaitl Next Team Odds]

The NHL has put four rules changes into effect, including the option for head coaches to challenge a puck-over-the-glass penalty. With all due respect, slowing down the game to penalize a player for slowing down the game, and then allowing a coach to slow it down further seems like a shortsighted concept when it comes to selling and growing the fastest sport on earth.

Montreal Canadiens 2024 NHL Entry Draft Coverage – Day One

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft gets underway today, with the first round starting at 7 pm ET. The Montreal Canadiens have two scheduled picks in the first round. Their own pick will be 5th overall, while the pick they acquired in the Sean Monahan deal at the trade deadline is set at 26th overall. To get a better idea of the possibilities for both picks we did a roundup of 25 mock drafts from various outlets. [Canadiens Draft Talk: Mock Draft Roundup – Likely Habs Picks]

According to Pierre LeBrun, the Philadelphia Flyers offered the 12th overall pick in 2024, as well as a roster player, and a 2025 first-round pick in exchange for the fourth overall pick this year, which is currently owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus rejected the offer that would have seen the Flyers leapfrog the Habs. As for who the Flyers were targeting with the fourth overall pick, the logical choice points to centre Cayden Lindstrom.   [Flyers Made Aggressive Draft Trade Offer To Leapfrog Canadiens]

Jeff Gorton met with the media on Thursday to discuss a plethora of subjects, including the team’s draft intentions, potential trades, free agency, and more. Gorton also confirmed both Arber Xhekaj and Justin Barron will be qualified, whereas tweener Jesse Ylonen will not, making him an unrestricted agent.  [Canadiens Draft Intentions, RFA Signings, Trade Talk, and UFAs]

General Manager Kent Hughes kicked things off by making a trade to improve one of his first-round picks. The Montreal Canadiens traded the 26th overall pick, the 57th overall pick, and the 198th overall pick to the Los Angeles Kings for the 21st overall pick. [Instant Analysis: Canadiens Improve Draft Position Via Trade]

Prior to the first round, the word on the street was that the Habs had identified talented forward Ivan Demidov with the fifth overall pick.  [Rumour Roundup: Canadiens Establish Top Draft Target]

Of course, just because the Habs wanted to pick the second-most talented player at the draft didn’t mean they were guaranteed to do so. Fortunately, Demidov was indeed available as the Canadiens took the podium.   [The Montreal Canadiens Draft Ivan Demidov 5th Overall]

Demidov immediately becomes the most important player in the Montreal Canadiens prospect pool, adding much needed offensive talent and creativity to the mix. More on Demidov, including instant analysis, highlights and a scouting profile:  [Instant Analysis: Canadiens Hit Home Run With Ivan Demidov Pick]

On top of being drafted by one of the most famous sports franchises on the planet, Ivan Demidov had the pleasure of hearing his name called by none other than Celine Dion.  [Ivan Demidov Reacts To Being Drafted By Canadiens, Celine Dion]

The Habs kept the momentum going by drafting forward Michael Hage 21st overall. The USHL standout is committed to playing for the University of Michigan next year, which will give Habs fans plenty of opportunities to watch the well-rounded centre.  [The Montreal Canadiens Select Michael Hage 21st Overall]

Tragically, Hage lost his father this year to an unfortunate accident. His father happened to be a big Habs fan, which makes it a rather special moment for the newest member of the organization.

Any way you cut it, the Habs did great in the first round. Not only did they draft the best players available, they also filled a few pressing organizational needs. The Canadiens needed high-end offensive talent, and the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft was eager to provide. [Instant Analysis: Canadiens Add Crucial Forwards In First Round]

 

Montreal Canadiens 2024 NHL Entry Draft Coverage – Day Two

The Habs made eight pick on day two of the draft, including the son of former team captain Saku Koivu.

70th Overall: Aatos Koivu

78th Overall: Logan Sawyer

102nd Overall: Owen Protz

130th Overall: Tyler Thorpe

134th Overall: Mikgus Vecvanags

166th Overall: Ben Merrill

210th Overall: Makar Khanin

224th Overall: Rasmus Bergqvist

From the selection of Ivan Demidov at fifth overall, to the draft announcement by Celine Dion, and everything that came afterward, including the Michael Hage and Aatos Koivu draft picks, the Montreal Canadiens enjoyed a very succesful (and crucial) 2024 NHL Entry Draft.  [Canadiens 2024 Draft: Demidov, Hage, Celine Dion & The Future]

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