The #CH selections for the 2023 draft:
5-David Reinbacher (D)
69-Jacob Fowler (L)
101-Florian Xhekaj (LW)
110-Bogdan Konyushkov (D)
128-Quentin Miller (G)
133-Sam Harris (LW)
144-Yevgeni Volokhin (L)
165-Filip Eriksson (C)
197-Luke Mittelstadt (D)
What do you think? #NHLDraft
– Marc-Olivier Beaudoin (@MOBeaudoin1) June 29, 2023
And in the end, here’s what Kent Hughes and his gang selected:
I don’t know about you, but when I look at the crop of players selected by the Tricolore, there’s only one reaction that comes to mind: a big fat “meh”.
Let’s take it easy.
But the club clearly didn’t want to get its hands on Matvei Michkov, for one reason or another. So, when the other four forwards were selected in the top-4, the idea of Hughes trading down and acquiring more than one first-round pick and a prospect was tantalizing.
Especially since the CH didn’t have many big picks left, but more on that later.
So the CH has turned up its nose at Matvei Michkov → https://t.co/mtN10LgPNm
– DansLesCoulisses (@DLCoulisses) June 28, 2023
I’ve written it many times since yesterday: I have absolutely nothing against Reinbacher and I think he’ll be a good defenseman in the Bettman circuit, but considering the state of things in Montreal, he’s a flat, bland, flavorless choice.
And when you consider that the next draft should be a good one for defensemen, you have to wonder if the CH didn’t pick theirs a year too early.
And that leads me to believe that an organizational need guided the selection. Once again, it’s a theme of the vintage, and we’ll come back to it.
Kent Hughes likes the kid (a lot), but it feels like organizational need guided the choice → https://t.co/OofTFtH0Ob
– DansLesCoulisses (@DLCoulisses) June 29, 2023
The fact that the CH decided to keep his pick also hurt the team’s pick depth a bit. After talking at No. 5, it wasn’t until early in the third round that we saw the Montrealers get a turn.
In the end, the 31st and 37th picks were used to “select” Alex Newhook. Would Mikhail Gulyayev and Ethan Gauthier, selected at these ranks, have been a better prize than Newhook? I think they’re very similar, and in fact, the CH chose quality over quantity.
However, if we come back to the notion of quality over quantity, I was surprised to see the Tricolore not dip into their nine picks to get ahead. Kent Hughes himself admitted this week that the 50-contract limit means he can’t sign everyone, yet no less than nine picks were made.
In short, with the 69th pick, the Tricolore decided to focus on another organizational need by selecting Jacob Fowler. We knew that the club was probably going to pick among the available goalies, and frankly, I like this selection. It’s the first time in a long time that the CH has drafted a goalie early (probably the first time since Zach Fucale, in fact).
The youngster has been selected as USHL Goaltender of the Year in 2022-2023 → https://t.co/rV3CS7WWW7
– DansLesCoulisses (@DLCoulisses) June 29, 2023
Early in the fourth round, selecting Florian Xhekaj wasn’t a bad idea either. We know that big brother does well in Montreal and loves the city, and as long as we’re taking a lottery ticket, I have no problem dipping into the family again.
Was it too early to take it? Yes, but at this stage of the draft, it’s no more serious than that.
After that, however, the other picks continue to leave me a little perplexed. Drafting Bogdan Konyushkov, a Russian right-handed defenseman, shows that the problem with Matvei Michkov wasn’t just his nationality. And Yevgeni Volohkin, drafted later, is another Russian.
Speaking of Volokhin, he’s one of three goalies selected by the Habs, the other being Quentin Miller of Quebec. I’m willing to believe that we’re talking about an organizational need, but was it worth taking a third of the team’s picks at this auction to draft goalies?
This is the first time since 1977 that the Canadiens have drafted at least three goalies in a single session. Back then, the CH took advantage of… 27 picks!
– Alexandre Pratt (@alexandrepratt) June 29, 2023
The strategy here is clear: the CH hopes that one of these goalies is the team’s future goaltender. The plan is almost certainly not to sign all of them, but although with the quantity of goalies (because Jakub Dobes, Cayden Primeau and even Samuel Montembeault are being added to the group), the team’s future #1 is one of the lot.
And in reality, it’s not a bad strategy… but if that’s the one you want to adopt, why take a high third-round pick (the organization’s second-highest at the auction) to select one? The CH went for both quality and quantity in goaltending, and I don’t know how good an idea that was to maximize the use of picks.
As for the rest of the picks, I confess I don’t really know Sam Harris and Filip Eriksson, but the fact that they (along with Xhekaj) are the only forwards drafted with the team is a tad disappointing. The 2023 draft was an excellent one for forwards, and the CH (which is sorely in need of attacking help) only picked up three towards the end of the draft.
And of those, let’s just say I’d be very surprised if there was an offensive superstar in the making. A lot is riding on the development of guys like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach, Alex Newhook and Juraj Slafkovský, but are these five players really a quality offensive core to win on a regular basis in the long term? I doubt it.
In the final round, drafting Luke Mittelstadt (a left-handed defenseman, the only one drafted during the auction) isn’t a bad choice. He’s a little older (as are several of the CH’s picks this year, since the club wants to see them reach the pros sooner), but we’re talking about a guy with some potential. For a seventh-round pick, it’s far from a bad bet.
Last year, the CH was able to pick up a lot of value with its picks (just think of a guy like Lane Hutson in the late second round). This year, the focus has been on needs, and in the end, that’s resulted in a lot of guys being drafted earlier than they should have been.
The “wow” factor is a bit lacking.
The 2023 Draft feels like the polar opposite of the 2022 Draft.
Guys like Hutson, Beck, Rohrer, Guindon, Engstrom, Nurmi, Tourigny and even Davidson brought very good value to the table.
A home-run draft by the Habs.
This year? ehhh….
– Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) June 29, 2023
We’ll have to wait and see if the 2023 vintage has been a good one for the Habs, but one thing is clear: the club didn’t want to hit home runs like they did last year. For almost all of its picks, it tried to hit a little home run by picking up guys who fill needs, and lots of them.
The only need that wasn’t filled was a top-notch forward. The problem is, it’s possibly the most glaring right now.
The CH’s 2023 crop won’t include nine good players. At best, Reinbacher will be an excellent defenseman, one of the goalies will be the club’s goalie of the future and 1-2 of the other guys will be depth guys.
Add a guy like Alex Newhook to the mix, say, and that’s roughly five potential NHLers (in an optimal world).
While there were some great stories, I find this crop a bit bland and facile, in the sense that we didn’t target many players with huge potential. We went for older guys with a higher floor, even if the ceiling is lower.
It’s not my kind of draft, but if there’s a future #1 defenseman and a future #1 goalie in the bunch, it’ll already be a lot less bad. Here’s hoping we don’t regret turning our nose up at Matvei Michkov, though.
– Nice gesture.
New Jersey GM Tom Fitzgerald – Nashville’s first captain – trades pick number 218 to the Predators for a 7th-rounder next year. It is David Poile’s final NHL trade and draft selection: Aiden Fink from Brooks of the AJHL.
– Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 29, 2023
– Nice catch for the Armada.
According to my information, Mathieu Turcotte will be the Armada’s next driver. He was approached by four teams. He chose the Armada. He should be presented to the media tomorrow. A great catch for new GM Olivier Picard.
– steve turcotte (@steveturcotte) June 29, 2023
– Can’t wait to see what happens.