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Bob McKenzie places Will Smith 3rd in his hopeful rankings

The NHL draft lottery takes place next Monday. In just over 72 hours, we’ll find out whether the Canadiens will have the chance to draft first overall for a second year in a row and, if so, get their hands on young Connor Bedard.

The odds aren’t great (8.5%), but they are there.

(Credit: Tankathon)

That said, even if the CH doesn’t draft Bedard, there are still other quality options at the top of the draft. Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov are often the names that come up behind the young Canadian forward, while all of them are often found among the various experts’ top-4.

Today, however, the excellent Bob McKenzie (who is very hip to the draft and, in my opinion, the most reliable source in the field) published his top-12 prospects for the upcoming draft. Unsurprisingly, Bedard and Fantilli top the list, but there’s a surprise in third place, where Will Smith is installed.

Carlsson and Michkov follow to complete the top-5.

Rather like Juraj Slafkovský last year, Smith is climbing the rankings at a dizzying pace. Not so long ago, he was seen as a consolation prize behind the top-4, and now he’s in the same league as Carlsson and Michkov.

Again, it’s important to reiterate that the majority agree that Michkov is a better player than Smith and Carlsson, but the situation in Russia complicates the issue. In addition to the Blue Jackets, the CH also seems reluctant to select him.

For the Habs, seeing Will Smith move up in the rankings means the club possibly won’t have a chance to select him at No. 5 if that’s his draft rank. He wouldn’t be out of luck with Carlsson or Michkov, but then again, he doesn’t seem willing to draft the Russian.

Should the CH find itself needing to draft outside the top-5, McKenzie lists Dalibor Dvorsky as the best option among the rest. Clearly, for both Smith and Dvorsky, the U18 Championship will have been beneficial.

Otherwise, Ryan Leonard, Zach Benson and Gabe Perreault (who also climbs due to his performance at the U18 Championship) are options, as is defenseman David Reinbacher, who rounds out the top-10. Colby Barlow and Matthew Wood follow.

If I had to go out on a limb today, I’d say Dalibor Dvorsky’s selection is the most likely scenario for the Tricolore, who would return to the Slovak pipeline for the third time in two years (after Slafkovský and Filip Mesar).

I wouldn’t necessarily be the most satisfied customer, but let’s give him a chance. Above all, let’s hope the Tricolore wins the lottery and is able to select Connor Bedard: it would be even easier to manage him that way.


– Josh Anderson (and a prospect) versus Alexis Lafrenière: I don’t believe it (because the Rangers have no money). [RDT]

– Impressive.

– Should the CH be interested in Thomas Milic next draft? [H&L]

– Colleague Maxime Truman reflects on the playoff performances of CH alumni. [BPM Sports]

– Great news.

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