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The Canadiens must move up in the draft
You know the drill: Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Will Smith and Matvei Michkov are the five most talented players in the draft. One of them is sure to be available to the Habs at #5.

The problem? Michkov is likely to be the available player… and the CH doesn’t want him.

That’s probably why the Habs have contacted the Ducks (#2) and the Sharks (#4) to try to move up in the draft. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jackets (third) also got a call from Kent Hughes.

After all, the higher the Habs go (if they go at all, of course), the more they control their destiny in an unpredictable draft.

Other than the fact that the Blackhawks will draft Connor Bedard, there’s no certainty. We suspect that Adam Fantilli will eventually be drafted by Anaheim, but there are doubts nonetheless.

And when I see rumors that the Habs could draft in the top-4, I buy it. Why do I buy it? Because if you’re going to avoid Matvei Michkov, you might as well do it big.

You know as well as I do that the Habs want to improve as much as possible next year. So it won’t be drafting fifth overall in 2024 – if all goes well, of course – in a draft that won’t be as good.

The result? Unless they hit a Lane Hutson-style home run in the second round later in the draft, the Habs want to draft their last top prospect in two weeks.

After that, the club will be better and will aspire to win.

Under such conditions, if the Habs want to add a player between Fantilli, Smith or Carlsson instead of drafting a less talented prospect at #5, the best time to make a move (or lay the groundwork for a deal to take place on the draft floor) is now.

Next year, if the Habs draft 12th (I say that arbitrarily, randomly), it will be much harder to move up to draft the cream of the draft – and to draft a player who is 12 months younger than the guys in the 2023 class.

It wouldn’t be too late next year… but the train is passing now. And when it does, you’ve got to get on it.

Starting with the fifth pick, which would certainly go the other way, it’s possible to build a deal to pick up “the last big prospect” the club needs – and wants to draft – to build an offense to its liking.

I get the feeling that the Habs are doing this to draft Will Smith, but he’s not the only interesting candidate. That, on the other hand, is a slightly different matter.

Price to pay

Of course, the Ducks, Blue Jackets or Sharks will have to pay a high price to make a move. After all, if pick #5 isn’t the most interesting for the CH, it’s just as true for the other clubs, isn’t it?

To go up, I wouldn’t have a problem seeing Kent Hughes pay a big price based on the fifth pick. But why? Because the CH has a lot of prospects who aren’t all going to break through, and whose best value could become marketable.

If we have to add the Panthers’ first pick and Owen Beck, I’d do it. After all, in my eyes, the Habs need top-notch talent, not a collection of good players.

In my opinion, Beck shouldn’t be considered untouchable. I like him a lot, but if the CH has Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach and a top-4 prospect, the center line will be extraordinary and the Ontarian becomes a good bargaining chip.

And I’m not talking about Pierre-Luc Dubois.

All this to say that the Habs shouldn’t be afraid to use their resources to pick up talent (as they did with Dach in 2022) right now. The club has its hands full, and we need to fill the real needs: get guys who will definitely play in the top-6.

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