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The 2023 draft could contain a Jesperi Kotkaniemi trap

For a long time, I was one of those who believed in Jesperi Kotkaniemi. But I have to confess that the flame of my confidence is flickering and risks being extinguished forever if things don’t unblock for him very soon. He’ll never be able to say he wasn’t given a chance to shine. In both Montreal and Carolina, KK has always been put in a more than enviable position. Had he been a late first-round pick, he would never have been the target of a hostile offer, he would never have started his NHL career on day one, and he would never have been offered a huge fee by his organization until he had shown more consistency in his play and put points on the board.

KK is a privileged field hockey player. He’s one of those guys you see as great, but who never really delivers. So much so, that he was the 3rd kid to be called up to the dais in the 2018 draft.

But his selection didn’t come out of nowhere. It was the result of a combination of circumstances. The Habs, like many teams, were in desperate need of talent at center, but the windfall that year was slim. Too thin, probably. To the point where the Habs selected a youngster who clearly didn’t belong there. There were better options available, such as Quinn Hughes, Noah Dobson, K’André Miller, Evan Bouchard and, of course, the most obvious of all, Brady Tkachuk.

The Arizona Coyotes, with the 5th overall pick, also banked on a center to fill their need, selecting Barrett Hayton. Again, not the optimal choice. As if this wasn’t obvious enough, the two young men just scored 43 points last season. Life is sometimes poetic where you least expect it!

All that being said, the next draft could well contain the same kind of trap.

In his article of the day, Guillaume Lefrançois mentions that a situation similar to the 2018 draft seems to be on the horizon, but this time featuring defensemen.

Basically, three names seem to stand out from the pack as demand for top-notch backs seems very high among NHL teams. David Reinbacher, Axel Sandin Pellikka and Quebecer Étienne Morin (in his case, valuations vary enormously according to the observers questioned) are the three young defensemen in question.

The catch is that teams are likely to select them much sooner than they should, because the commodity (defensemen) is very scarce and the need is very great.

To give you an idea, Reinbacher’s name has been regularly associated with the Montreal Canadiens, who will be drafting 5th overall in a few days’ time. By the admission of his current coach with the Zurich Lions, Marc Crawford, he would be a 2nd or 3rd defenseman at best.

As much as a right-handed defenseman would be useful in Montreal, it could be the equivalent of a succulent piece of cheese installed on a mouse trap. Without a good meal, the rodent might regret having let himself be tempted.

Even Kent Hughes mentioned that he thought David Reinbacher was the best defenseman available at the draft. The question now is whether he thinks he’s good enough to take a chance on Jesperi Kotkaniemi and perhaps end up with his nose stuck in a rodent trap, watching his friends pig out on the cheese left behind.

In gusto

– Here’s a photo summary of the Habs boys’ F1 weekend.

– Another honour for Chantal Machabée

– I think it’s safe to say that Connor McDavid is good.

– It was a busy day at Mass, as they say.

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