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Canadiens: plenty of first-round picks in uniform next year

When Kent Hughes came to town, he said he wanted a fast, talented team. And since his arrival, we’ve realized that injecting talent into his line-up (often young talent) is important to him.

And injecting talent can involve high draft picks. There’s no guarantee, but these guys are drafted high enough for a reason, right?

What fascinates me is that even though the Habs haven’t exactly hit for 1,000 first-round draft picks in many years, there are still plenty of first-round draft picks in the CH lineup for next season.

First, there are the guys who were drafted by the Habs in the first round of an auction and are in the organization. And aside from Carey Price, whose career is over, there isn’t a guy until 2019.

  • Cole Caufield (2019)
  • Kaiden Guhle (2020)
  • Logan Mailloux (2021)
  • Juraj Slafkovsky (2022)
  • Filip Mesar (2022)
  • David Reinbacher (2023)

Of the lot, Caufield, Guhle and Slaf will play up top. Mailloux and Reinbacher could get their chance, but I don’t necessarily expect Mesar to play any games with the CH.

That said, a good start to the Laval season could change everything…

But it’s more than that. In fact, there are many players who are currently in the process of starting the season in Montreal and who are first choices of other teams.

Of Marc Bergevin’s reign, two remain: Joel Armia and captain Nick Suzuki. The latter is obviously a masterstroke.

In recent weeks, I’ve made the following observation: Marc Bergevin played less with first-round draft picks than Kent Hughes has since his arrival.

The context is different with the rebuild, but we can see that this is also the case with former first-round picks.

Why do I say this? Because with the Habs, if there are two players who are first-round picks elsewhere and were acquired by Marc Bergevin, the figure rises to five for those acquired by the new administration.

We’re talking about Kirby Dach, Alex Newhook, Sean Monahan, Justin Barron and Mike Matheson.

Sean Monahan is a bit of an exception to the rule (that of going after young talent), as he was originally obtained to get his hands on a first-round draft pick.

But in the end, he became important to the club – especially when he’s healthy, of course.

Mike Matheson is also a little older, but he can still be part of the defensive corps that will try to bring the Stanley Cup back to Montreal in the next few years. And no one can complain about the Penguins deal… except the Penguins.

And, of course, you know as well as I do just how similar Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook are in many ways, and just how likely they are to take the CH to the next level. They’re two of the new management’s biggest acquisitions.

So yes, there’s going to be some square-foot talent on the team. It’s an observation I find interesting because, as mentioned at the outset, this is what the Habs GM has wanted to do for the past 18 months, since he’s been working for the Habs.

Remember that Denis Gurianov and Jonathan Drouin, acquired by Hughes and Bergevin respectively, left in the last few days. They are also former first-round picks.

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