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Three Things: Monahan and interest in butter money | Slaf vs Tkachuk | CHL Prospects Game
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

It’s great to be back this week with a good old “Three Things” column!

We’ve got plenty of stock!

On the menu: the inevitable trade with the Jets, an updated comparison between Slafkovsky and Matthew Tkachuk at the same age and, for dessert, our analysis of some of the youngsters present at the most recent edition of the CHL Prospects Game. Could the likes of Parekh, Iginla, Dickinson, Yakemchuk and Catton be of interest to the Habs come June?

Monahan trade: Jets and Habs keep it simple

In Colby Barlow (2023, 18th), Rutger McGroarty (14th, 2022), Brad Lambert (30th, 2022) and Chaz Lucius (18th, 2021), the Jets had (and still have) no less than four recent first-round picks, all forwards with pretty good size who certainly wouldn’t leave the Flanelle staff indifferent in a trade involving Sean Monahan.

But Kevin Cheveladayoff decided to keep them all in his bag.

Of course, Montreal can rejoice at the addition of another first-round pick, the second brought in by the same player in less than 17 months.

As anticipated over a year ago, with Monahan, the Habs have finally had their cake and eaten it too, with the proverbial interest on the butter! And should he return next summer for a few seasons at a good price, Hughes will record nothing less than the equivalent of a tax-haven investment of interest on the butter money!

Thanks Sean!

But, by the same token, since the Jets didn’t give up any worthy prospects, we also got proof that Monahan and his injury history really weren’t worth the same as Elias Lindholm in the minds of NHL executives.

There was also a hint of a Barron brothers reunion in Winnipeg in a bolder deal that might have involved even 18th overall pick Chaz Lucius in 2021.

But hey, both organizations decided to keep it simple and settle these big metaphysical questions with a good stroke of Ockham’s razor.

Cheveldayoff got what he wanted. No more, no less.

Hughes, for his part, would have liked to have received a prospect, but he still got the latitude he wanted in the first round with a view to the next draft, or as good old Mick Jagger, a great reader of Epicurus in his spare time, would say:

You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes, well, you just might findYou get what you need

Slafkovsky: as good as Matthew Tkachuk at the same age?

Leaving aside his first 14 games, with 18 points in his last 35 games – a pace that has increased even further in the last 20, during which he has scored 13 points – Slafkovsky is on a cruising pace that oscillates between 42 and 53 points over 82 games.

Think of these figures as representative samples of the two new levels of performance he has reached this season.

And beyond the points as such, it’s the way in which the Slovak “big teenager” plays that is even more convincing. At 19, Slafkovsky is often his team’s best striker “on 200 feet”. A style of play reminiscent of his compatriot, good old Marian Hossa…

Speaking of comparisons, don’t forget that not so long ago, shortly after his 50th NHL game, we wrote a detailed analysis of #20’s “real” contemporary comparables.

The conclusion?

Over the past 10 years, the only “power forwards” drafted in the top-10 who clearly seemed to have done better than Slaf at the “same age” (18-19) had been the Tkachuk brothers, Andrei Svechnikov and Mason Mactavish. All the others had been about equal or worse, and surprisingly, that included forwards ranging from Valeri Nichushkin to Leon Draisaitl to Timo Meier, all of whom are quite wealthy today…

We could also have mentioned Pierre-Luc Dubois. But then again…

About two months have passed since that analysis, and Slafkovsky’s career has only grown more intriguing since then.

Positive intrigue, that is.

No one talks about flops anymore. Even his most indefatigable haters , who must have been dreaming of Shane Wright in the summer of 2022 and/or have since fallen in love with Logan Cooley…

As for me, you’ve known since May 26, 2022 who my favorite was, the one most likely to become a dominant player

Slaf ‘s pace is now similar in every way to the few individuals we ranked “better than him” in our recent analysis, so much so that we can now wonder if he isn’t as good as the Tkachuk brothers. In any case, you have to be good to make the kind of pass he’s starting to get used to:

I particularly like the comparison with Matthew, since he was the model specifically targeted for Slafkovsky by his own bosses, especially Adam Nicholas.

And since Slafkovsky was given similar duties to the 18-19-year-old Matthew Tkachuk with the Flames in 2016-2017, the two guys’ stats are very comparable at the same age.

Matthew had 48 points in 76 games – similar to Slaf ‘s current pace – before exploding two years later at age 20-21 with a 77-point season in 80 games.

Is this a mark that seems completely unimaginable for the big Slovak 2 years from now?


Analysis of some relevant prospects for the Habs

At the recent CHL Top Prospects game, we took a look at some of the key players of interest to the Habs for the upcoming draft.

You’ll note, however, that spectacular giant-sized left-handed center Cayden Lindstrom, recovering from hand surgery, was unfortunately absent.

Here’s how it all turned out!

Sam Dickinson
Let’s start with the one who regularly finds himself very high up on all the provisional lists. A fluid, ultra-mobile skater with a big frame, the tall, left-handed Dickinson is a little reminiscent of Owen Power, only less talented and dynamic with the puck. He can also be reminiscent of a Jay Bouwmeester or even a Ron Hainsey when you watch him play.

He’s the kind of “high floor” safe pick that will no doubt satisfy a top-10 club when players with superior talent are no longer available.

At the CHL U23 game, I found him a little soft and easy to pack for his size, but his great mobility and willingness to support the attack as a carrier were also noticeable.

But what will his offensive potential be in the NHL when he can no longer dominate the game thanks to his imposing size and superior speed?

Offensively, we can’t take away the quality of his shot or his skating, but he’ll need to be more cunning and incisive to score a ton of points in the NHL.

Dickinson is undoubtedly one of the 4-5 2024 defensemen whom Scott Wheeler considers superior to David Reinbacher. I, for one, am not at all convinced. I think Reinbacher is tougher, more reliable and has a better feel for the game.

In my opinion, considering Montreal’s left-side depth, it would take a generational defender to have any interest in another left-hander in the top-10.

Dickinson isn’t generational and seemed to me to lack a bit of “dog”, to put it bluntly.

Tij Iginla
I’d heard and read some commentators speak well of him, but this was my first serious analysis of Iginla’s game, and I was pleasantly surprised, if not quite thrilled. The young man was, by a fairly wide margin, the best player on the ice during this game. In fact, he was named his team’s best player of the match.

Dynamic, feisty, intelligent and efficient – a lot like his father Jarome – Tij does nothing for nothing on the ice. Physically very strong for his size (6’0, 185 lbs), he plays with clear intentions and constantly puts pressure on the opposing defense in a variety of ways, whether by carrying the puck with confidence and creativity, placing and retrieving it behind defenders, standing out in the slot, creating plays for his teammates, or taking good, sharp shots.

A great value for anyone who drafts him, regardless of rank. It’s rare to find a player with such exceptional effort and such a high level of talent.

Craig Button compared him to a kind of Brad Marchand (only bigger). I’d have to agree with him. But then again, he’s got a lot of his father in his veins… even if he is left-handed!

We still regularly see young Iginla outside the top-15/top-20 on various lists. But because of his dynamism and his ability to be a playmaker, I’d be the last one surprised if he managed to crack the top-12, or even the top-10, at the draft.

A little crush.

Berkly Catton
I’d watched the young Catton a few times in recent weeks, trying to compare him to the other “big names” up front with a view to the next draft, and each time he left me wanting more.

Doubtless influenced by the type of player I thought the Habs would draft in June (preferably a strong, fast and talented forward), my prejudice against him was rather unfavorable due to his very modest size and ordinary skating stroke. But the Top Prospects game did nothing to change my perceptions, and if Berkly Catton is “5’11”, Nick Suzuki must be 6’2…

A dynamic playmaker , Catton remains rather cerebral and preoccupied with finding open spaces, as he struggles a little to stand out with his speed. Very ordinary defensively, he also simply doesn’t make the grade along the ramps.

The Saskatoon native is this year’s Cole Perfetti. Small in stature, fairly agile, great feel for the game, good passer, good vision, good shot.

But can he become a complete and truly dominant center in the NHL, especially in the playoffs?

Not so sure…

And what would he add to a club like the Habs?

Like Perfetti in 2020 (who now plays wing even in Scheifele’s absence), I don’t see him coming out before the end of the top-10, and even then…

Zayne Parekh
Parekh looks very interesting as an attacking right-handed defender, even though we didn’t see much of him in this game. Unless I’m mistaken, he seems to have had considerably less ice time than Dickinson and Yakemchuk.

Unlike Grant McCagg, who loved the latter, I found Yakemchuk “spectacular”, but a little slow for his style of play and, therefore, risky. I don’t see what he would bring to the Habs, who are already banking on this kind of profile in Barron and Mailloux, who are better skaters – at least Barron is…

But to get back to Parekh, perhaps his most memorable moment was a hard-hitting check on Catton on his way in. The youngster’s balance is good, and he was still able to demonstrate his great mobility in all directions and the quality of his hands here and there.

That said, I’ll need to see him a few more times, including at the Memorial Cup with Saginaw (and Owen Beck), to get a better idea of what he’s all about.

But the talent is there, that’s for sure. His OHL stats are also mind-boggling (22 goals, 66 points in 44 games, +23!) and he could certainly give the Habs pause, especially if they were to trade a right-hander like Barron or Mailloux…


In short, if the Habs draft a player in the5th, 6th or even 7th spot, as we’ve come to expect, it’s far from certain that they’ll turn to one of the players analyzed above.

At these ranks, with a little luck and at the mercy of other teams’ decisions, he could instead get his hands on either the wizard Demidov or the monstrous center Lindstrom.

By the way, how can Lindstrom be 11th on Scott Wheeler’s list? You’d have to ask him!

But then again, starting at No. 6or 7, Zayne Parekh or the fiery Tij Iginla could start to look like very interesting options.

We’ll soon come back to the relevance (or not) of drafting another right-handed defenseman in 2024, but if we want to focus on forwards, we could imagine Iginla in the category of Helenius, Brandsegg-Nygard, Catton or even Eiserman, who is tumbling down everyone’s lists.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d easily place him ahead of Catton, Helenius and even Eiserman, but perhaps not (yet) ahead of my “darling” of the last CMJ, the strong, fast and very complete Brandsegg-Nygard.

Hmmm, I think a little top-10 from the 2024 draft will be in order for us in the coming weeks!

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