With less than a week before the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal and with the Canadiens holding the number one pick, a lot of decisions still need to be made.
This past week something happened that is honestly a rare occurrence with Bob Mackenzie end of season NHL Draft rankings which now have Juraj Slafkovsky in the number one spot ahead of Shane Wright but explains they are practically tied for first.
Slafkovsky rose up the rankings as a result of his performance at the World Hockey Championships in Finland, while Wright’s end of the season was a bit underwhelming. The major difference between the two is skating, as the Slovak is a taller, heavier body while the Canadian is a better skater.
The latest development, as reported by Pierre Lebrun of TSN, is that Montreal is open to picking up the phone if the New Jersey Devils, who are slated to pick number two, wanted to make a deal to swap the two as it seems they are very interested in Slafkovsky.
The issue with Montreal is that it seems clear-cut that Wright is the right choice and that even Craig Button, who is the Director of Scouting at TSN, says he is the consensus pick for the Habs to continue their reset and build towards the future.
The other notable option is Logan Cooley from the US National Development program, but the Pittsburgh native is slated to join the University of Minnesota next year, meaning if the Habs were to take him, he would not be NHL ready, whereas the other two are.
Kent Hughes will need to decide if he is looking for a prospect that is NHL ready that can fit with the young core in Montreal or draft a player that will be ready in 2-3 years down the road. Still, it is not a bad option as the Colorado Avalanche went down that road, and it finally paid off this year.
The Avalanche spent years drafting players like Nathan Mackinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Cale Makar, and Bowen Byram, and even if Habs fans are impatient, it could be the right move. With the experience of Jeff Gorton, who managed to turn the Rangers around with honesty and talent, they could do it.
The last time the NHL Draft was in La Belle Province was back in 2009, and the Canadiens selected Louis Leblanc 18th overall, but he only played 50 games with Montreal scoring five goals, and was in between the NHL and the AHL.
He was then traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a draft pick, and according to Hockey DB, he hadn’t played since the 2015-16 season when he played in Europe in Switzerland with Lausanne in the Swiss A league, only scoring one goal in four games played.
It will all come down to Thursday night at the Bell Centre when we will find out what the Canadiens decide to do and who they decide to draft with the first overall pick, which hasn’t happened in 40 years, and the last time was back in 1980.