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5th pick: five logical targets for the Canadiens
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Early in the evening, hopes of Macklin Celebrini becoming a member of the Habs officially evaporated, as logic prevailed: the San Jose Sharks were awarded the first pick of the auction.

In fact, none of the 16 lottery picks moved, a first since 2010.

In doing so, the Habs have retained their selection ranking, and will speak at No. 5. Remember that the Habs also have the Jets’ pick, which will be between 24th and 27th… but many, including Arpon Basu, would be surprised to see the Habs keep this pick rather than trade for it.

So let’s focus on the fifth pick, because even if Macklin Celebrini isn’t available, there are some good prospects out there. Here are five targets that could interest the Habs, who seem to prefer to take a forward rather than a defenseman:

Ivan Demidov

Demidov is probably the least realistic of the five targets because he’s likely to be selected before the fifth spot. That said, we know that after Celebrini, the teams all order the top-10 differently, so we can afford to dream.

Especially since last year, a talented Russian forward was available in the fifth spot… and this time, the Habs seem to want to select him.

Demidov is an extremely talented forward who just had a big year in Russia, amassing 60 points in 30 games in the Russian junior circuit. His agent is convinced that the kid has the potential to handle a market like Montreal’s, and if you want a real bomb in the offensive zone, he’s your man.

Again, it seems more unlikely that he’ll be available in the fifth spot… but if he were to be there, it would be a godsend for the Habs.

He shouldn’t miss his chance if that happens, especially since his contractual situation should be less problematic than Matvei Michkov’s.

Cayden Lindstrom

A big, big man.

That’s the best way to sum up Cayden Lindstrom. The physical forward is not lacking in talent, however, having just scored 46 points in 32 WHL games this season.

And he’s got some damn fine offensive skills.

Again, a team could take a chance on Lindstrom before the fifth spot, and there’s the question of injury with the big guy, but if he’s healthy, he’ll be a big piece in a team’s top-6.

And considering he wants to play with Juraj Slafkovský, that would make two solid guys on the same line.

Tij Iginla

Jarome’s worthy son, Tij Iginla is coming off a big 2023-24 season. In 64 WHL regular-season games, Iginla scored 47 goals… but beyond his goal-scoring ability, he’s a pretty complete guy.

Stéphane Leroux painted a good portrait of the kid earlier this evening, by the way.

Right now, Iginla seems to be the popular choice among the Montreal fan base, and the odds look pretty good that he’ll be available at No. 5.

Although with his (very solid) performance at the U18 championship… he may have put himself on the radar of the Blackhawks, Ducks and Blue Jackets, who will draft ahead of the Habs.

Berkly Catton

This season, Berkly Catton scored no less than 116 points in 68 WHL games, including 54 goals. If there’s one thing that’s clear about him, it’s that scoring points won’t be a problem.

So why isn’t he necessarily seen as a guaranteed top-5 pick? Because Catton isn’t the tallest or the fattest. At 5 feet 11 inches and 163 pounds, he’s a bit puny.

But look at him go: he’s a real offensive powerhouse, too.

The talk around him sounds a lot like the talk around Zach Benson a year ago… and in his NHL debut this season, he amassed 30 points in 71 games.

Will Catton have the same career trajectory? Stay tuned.

Beckett Sennecke

Beckett Sennecke’s name has been gaining in popularity in recent days. The forward, who scored 68 points in 63 games last season, has been in the news recently for his big series, during which he scored 22 points in 16 games.

And with his excellent hands, he’s capable of a little magic.

The fifth pick might be a little early to draft him, but we know that some teams are really in love with the kid, whose profile is a bit like Kirby Dach’s.

Is the Habs one of them? We’ll have the answer in a few weeks.

Obviously, other names will be the talk of the town (Cole Eiserman, Konsta Helenius and the big defensemen of the auction), but if I had to go out on a limb, I’d say that the player drafted by the Habs will be one of these five.

My feeling is that it will be Tij Iginla… but we all agree that things have time to change.

In gusto

– Matt Larkin sees Cayden Lindstrom ending up in Montreal.

The same goes for Chris Peters, by the way.

– It’s still the talk of the town.

– Stay tuned.

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