Skip to content
The Canadiens must take inspiration from the Stars for the draft
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Jasons from Dallas this morning.

In the past, the Stars didn’t always seem to have a clear direction. But recently, the club has managed to stand up, have a superb 2023-2024 season (among others) and demonstrate that the hockey club is capable of winning in the playoffs

Just yesterday, the Stars won against Vegas. This means they’re just one game away from advancing to the second round. In such a case, a duel against Colorado would be on the menu.

What makes the Stars so good? Yes, the presence of veterans like Joe Pavelski and Matt Duchene helps the club. Yes, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are still capable of playing hockey.

But what really helps is the fact that the Stars have drafted a lot of young players who aren’t over the moon and who are making an impact right now. That’s good for a payroll.

Wyatt Johnston’s name quickly comes to mind. The young man is his team’s spark plug in the playoffs. He’s rolling really well (six points since the start of the playoffs), he’s shooting the net en masse and he’s doing it at a young age.

Because yes, the Torontonian is still 12 days away from being able to legally have a beer in Texas.

What we notice is that Johnston isn’t a top-5 draft pick: he was drafted 23rd overall in 2021. The Habs didn’t talk before the Stars that year: it was Logan Mailloux’s year, for those who remember.

He didn’t play in the OHL in 2020-2021 (pandemic obliged) before being drafted, and some would say the Stars were lucky there. But the reality is that Dallas makes its own luck.

In their pipeline of NHL prospects, the Stars have many players who weren’t drafted in the top 15 of their auction, but who have (or will have) a major impact on what happens next in Dallas.

Logan Stankoven (2021), Mavrik Bourque (2020), Thomas Harley (2019), Jake Oettinger (2017), Jason Robertson (2017) and Roope Hintz (2016) were all drafted, along with Johnston, between 23rd and 49th in their respective auctions.

This is clearly, as Arpon Basu said on BPM Sports, a model to follow in the NHL. That includes, of course, the Montreal Canadiens, a club that builds on its youth.

Obviously, the club needs to be able to pick up some big pieces with Juraj Slafkovsky, David Reinbacher and the top-7 pick of 2024, but it also needs to hit the ball in a safe place further down the draft.

If we look beyond the second round, we see that the Habs have succeeded (or positioned themselves to succeed in the future, at the very least) in maximizing some of their picks past the top-15 under the Marc Bergevin era.

They’re not all star players, but in recent years…

  • Cayden Primeau, 199th in 2017
  • Alexander Romanov (traded), 38th in 2018
  • Jordan Harris, 71st in 2018
  • Jayden Struble, 46th in 2019
  • Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, 201st in 2019
  • Kaiden Guhle, 16th in 2020
  • Sean Farrell, 124th in 2020
  • Logan Mailloux, 31st in 2021
  • Oliver Kapanen, 64th in 2021
  • Joshua Roy, 150th in 2021

And under the new administration, we’ll have to keep an eye on the Filip Mesar (we’ll see, in his case), Owen Beck, Lane Hutson, Adam Engstrom, Jacob Fowler and Florian Xhekaj(long shot, but still) of this world.

They won’t be stars for sure, but the more players you draft from this mold, the more likely you are to succeed – just like the Stars.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t trade the Jets’ 2024 pick if the right opportunity arises (like Alex Newhook next year), but it’s just a reminder that the Jets’ upcoming pick is really important.

Deep draft picks can make the difference between a good NHL club and a great one, someday. It helps with the talent… and while the guys are on their entry-level contracts, it keeps management happy.

In Brief

– Listen.

– Seen the same.

– Ouch.

– Alek Manoah as Toronto’s backup? My column on the subject. [BPM Sports]

– Ah well.

More Content