Skip to content
Hooray! Canadiens avoid no man’s land at next draft
American Thanksgiving is over, and the playoff picture is probably at least 80% complete.

And the Canadiens won’t be sneaking into the remaining 20%.

In fact, they’ve never had a chance since Kirby Dach’s injury.

And now Newhook’s…

In the next few weeks, we should also start trading veterans and giving more chances and responsibilities to some of the organization’s youngsters.

In the East, once the Senators have taken their wanderings, only the Blue Jackets should end the season with fewer wins than the Habs.

In the West, the Sharks, Hawks and Ducks are the only teams expected to do worse than the Tricolore.

And that’s about it.

Logically, then, only four clubs should supplant the Flanelle in mediocrity in 2023-2024.

A scenario very similar to last year, you say?


And you know what?

So much the better!

It’s a blessing in disguise, because the rebuild is far from over.

With Dach, the CH would undoubtedly have “played meaningful games” much later in the season, as was management’s initial objective.

This could have been good for the club’s overall progression and maturity.

But then, he would most likely have found himself in no-man’s-land for the draft with a pick between the 10th and 15th echelons.

Considering that the organization is still in the first phase of its rebuilding, where it is trying to establish its foundation on the strongest possible footing, such an embellishment would have been counterproductive.

The young core has yet to welcome big, big talent

For the purposes of this exercise, we won’t be counting Matheson in the CH’s young core. When the club is good, maybe he’ll still be in Montreal’s top-4, but maybe not…

So, making a few realistic projections and adding comparables to further highlight them, the young core – the top-6 on offense and the top-4 on defense – would break down roughly as follows at the end of next season:



Status at maturity


Nick Suzuki, C Age 24 2nd quality center David Krejci
Cole Caufield, AG/AD 22 years old Top-6 winger,
elite striker
Alex Debrincat
Kirby Dach, C/AD 22 years old 1st center Ryan Getzlaf
Alex Newhook, AG 22 years old Winger,2nd/3rd trio Jason Zucker
Juraj Slafkovsky, AD 20 years old Top-6 power winger Timo Meier
Joshua Roy, AD/AG Age 20 Winger, 2nd/3rd trio Josh Bailey
Kaiden Guhle, DG 22 years old 2nd/3rd defenseman Ryan McDonagh
Justin Barron, DD 22 years old 4th defenseman Jeff Petry
Lane Hutson, GM 20 years old 2nd/3rd defenseman, quarterback Quinn Hughes
David Reinbacher, DD 19 years old 1st defender Alex Pietrangelo
Jacob Fowler 18 years old Starting goalkeeper Thatcher Demko

Let’s get one thing straight right away. Defensively, we’d be very comfortable with this top-4. All the ingredients are there.

And let’s not forget the Engstrom, Mailloux, Xhekaj, Struble, Harris and company behind them. There will undoubtedly be transactions, but the foundations of a future elite defence have already been laid, not to mention the fact that Mike Matheson could always act as the veteran of the group on a final pairing, if need be…

In Fowler, the CH also seems to have something solid between the posts. Montembeault will be there in the meantime, and perhaps beyond. And Primeau hasn’t said his last word. So, not too much to worry about.

On the attack, however, it’s a different story. We can see straight away that there are gaps and uncertainties in the top-6.

Suzuki would be a sure bet as a2nd center in a very good club.

And we’d have no problem with Caufield and Slafkovsky as wingers on any of the top two threes.

But even though his potential is higher and could well resemble a mature Getzlaf of sorts, Kirby Dach, because of his propensity for injury, remains a great uncertainty as a number one center.

Then, in a contending club, it’s highly doubtful that Alex Newhook and/or Joshua Roy can be dominant wingers on offensive trios.

So there are still at least two, if not three, positions to be filled by superior elements in the Habs’ top-6 before we can really raise aspirations.

Even looking at the comparables, which we think are pretty realistic, to establish our projections, it’s highly doubtful that such an offense would be strong enough to rival those of recent Stanley Cup winners.

Nothing compares to Vegas, Colorado, Tampa Bay, or if we go back a bit, the Penguins and Blackhawks of the golden years.

At best, we could hope to resemble the Blues of 2019.

But, basically, we’d still be missing 1 or 2 “elite” players for the dough to rise to another level.

The 2024 draft, an opportunity not to be missed

Considering its own organizational chart and the fact that there should be no generational defensemen in 2024, it’s no surprise that the Tricolore would be a bit foolish to draft a defenseman in the top-5 or top-6 of the next draft.

So, here are the 6 forwards we expect to be unavoidable at next year’s draft:

Mack Celebrini, C/AG/AD
Lane Hutson’s Boston University teammate may not be a generational player like McDavid or Bedard, but he’ll be an elite player nonetheless. If the hockey gods have their way, he’ll be the Habs’ number-one center (his most natural position) and best forward in no time. A sure bet for the team that wins the lottery, a talented, dynamic, intense and responsible player who can do anything on the ice.

Cole Eiserman, AG
In Eiserman, the CH would add another prospect who should become one of the top scorers of his generation. Eiserman, 6′, 196 lbs, would take a lot of pressure off Caufield and easily squeeze a Newhook out of the top-6. If you find lack of finishing a glaring problem with the CH, and you’re comfortable with Dach and Suzuki at center on the top-6, Eiserman is your man. It will be very interesting to compare Eiserman and Celebrini at the next WJC in a few weeks’ time and make up our minds about them.

Ivan Demidov, AD
Because of the Russian factor, Demidov, who certainly rivals Celebrini and Eiserman in talent, is likely to drop back a few spots. If that’s the case, for the second year in a row, the CH may well have a tough decision to make regarding a talented winger from Putin Land! Demidov, on the other hand, is only under contract until 2025 with St. Petersburg, so he could make his way to North America fairly quickly. At 5’11, 168 lbs, the Russian isn’t a monster, but he’s solid on his skates and creative to a fault. It’s also said that his character has nothing to do with Mishkov’s (somewhat obnoxious)…

Cayden Lindstrom, C
If the Tricolore don’t win the lottery and draft him around5th or 6th, here’s your man if he’s still available, and at 6’5, already 205-210 lbs, he’s quite a guy! Cayden Lindstrom’s stock has been skyrocketing since the start of the season, as he dominates the WHL at 17. Even though he’s not expected to be part of Team Canada at the next World Youth Championship (he’s still 17), some people are even starting to rank Lindstrom2nd, behind Celebrini… With Lindstrom, the CH would add a third wall to its offensive top-6 and begin to look like a playoff club… This British Columbia native is one to watch very, very closely in 2024. We’ll probably be talking about it again. We love hockey, we love Caydeuuuuuune in Montreal!

Berkly Catton, C
The leader in goals (8) and points (10) at the last Gretzky-Hlincka Cup, Catton isn’t exactly a one-armed man. A little more modestly built at 5’11 and 163 lbs, Catton is very instinctive, has a surgical shot, excellent hands, good passing skills, and is thought to be pretty good in both directions of the rink. Here’s another forward whose profile seems superior to many of the Montreal organization’s leading forwards…

Konsta Helenius, C/RW
Probably more of a future NHL right-winger, Helenius, another “medium” sized forward, has a mature game, performs better in Liiga than Juraj Slafkovsky, executes quickly and well, and has a phenomenal trigger finger. Perhaps an improved version of Lucas Raymond? At the moment, he wouldn’t necessarily be my favorite of the top six forwards in the upcoming draft, but a convincing CMJ could change my mind…

In short, the Tricolore should have an excellent chance of drafting a future member of their top-6 in the next draft, one who could ultimately become their best forward when the time comes.

And that’s exactly what the doctor recommends…as long as you choose wisely!

More Content