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Kent Hughes: “It’s highly likely that we’ll draft with the 5th pick”.
Credit: Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Early in the evening, the eyes of the NHL were riveted on the draft lottery. In the end, the order remained unchanged: the Sharks got the first pick, while the Habs got the fifth.

Considering that the most likely scenario was Montreal dropping to sixth, that’s a small victory in itself… even if it isn’t Macklin Celebrini, we agree.

After the lottery, Kent Hughes chatted to the media… and gave some information about the Tricolore’s choice:

1. Obviously, the question of the club trading its pick was raised. After all, at No. 5, the Habs might be tempted to trade their pick for a more established player (who’d be the same age as the rest of the core, for example).

And in a press briefing, the GM didn’t totally close the door… but he did say that it was “highly likely” that the club would use his pick to select a prospect.

If he thinks trading his pick will improve the club, he’ll consider it, but it seems unlikely.

2. When you look at the state of the Habs organization, you know the Habs need talent on offense… and they’re loaded with defensemen.

That’s why fans would like to see the Habs select a forward with their fifth pick.

And Hughes seems to agree: if two prospects are equally talented, he’ll prioritize the forward.

If the scouts prefer a defenseman, he’ll consider it, but he sounds like someone who’d like to add attack to his team.

3. Hughes was asked if he believes the prospect he selects will be ready to play in the NHL as early as next season.

Because often, unless they’re playing in the NCAA, prospects drafted early in the first round quickly make the jump to the Bettman circuit.

And to that question, Hughes’ answer was interesting:

If it’s not someone who’s ready next year, it’s someone who’ll be ready quickly after. – Kent Hughes

Clearly, he doesn’t want to wait three or four years for the drafted player to join the big club.

And considering that the club’s core is already in the NHL (or close to it), it makes sense.

4. Drafting in the top-5 is all well and good, but eventually, the Habs will have to move up in the standings to advance, which means the club will no longer be drafting in the top-5.

And Hughes knows all about that. In fact, he hopes this will be the last time he drafts in the top-5.

Because next year, ideally, he’d like to draft later.

5. It’s still early in the process (Hughes will be talking to his scouts next week), but right now, the GM doesn’t necessarily feel that any player has stood out from the pack behind Macklin Celebrini.

We know: there are a lot of quality players in the top-10, so everyone seems to have them in a slightly different order. It’s a far cry from last year’s top-4 (or top-5 with Matvei Michkov).

So, at the moment, Hughes doesn’t really know who will be available… but he’s confident he’ll find a very good player nonetheless.

Interesting words from the GM, who gave a few snippets of information despite the fact that he remained cautious.

Now it’s time for your mock drafts…

In brief

– Of note.

– With the lottery, the top-23 in the next draft is now set in stone. Remember that the Jets’ pick, which belongs to the Habs, will be somewhere between 24th and 27th.

– Great news for him.

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