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Draft: Here are the needs of the three clubs before the Habs (in addition to the Sharks)
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As we all know, the 2024 NHL Amateur Draft is fast approaching.

First-round selections will be made on June 28, while selections for rounds 2 to 7 will be made the following day.

Remember that the Sharks won the lottery, and the Habs will be talking in 5th place.

Everyone agrees that Macklin Celebrini will be selected at the very top, but as for the rest, there’s nothing certain.

With the Montreal Canadiens drafting at No. 5, there’s a lot of speculation as to who the Habs will select, but more importantly, who will be available at that pick.

Here’s a look at the needs of the three other clubs (excluding the Sharks) who are talking before the Tricolore. TVA Sports, via journalist Benoît Rioux, and Mathias Brunet (La Presse) also had a word to say earlier today.

Bedard… And the Hawks

Let’s start first with the Chicago Blackhawks.

After gutting the club in recent years, the Hawks need just about everything.

They have some very good young players in the organization, including Connor Bedard, of course, but there’s also Kevin Korchinski on defense and Frank Nazar on offense.

Aside from these three high-quality prospects, there aren’t really any of this calibre.

With Lukas Reichel, Nick Lardis and Gavin Hayes as other attacking prospects, the need clearly seems to be on defense.

A right-handed defender who can be used in all situations would be a welcome addition.

That’s fortunate, because there’s a certain Artyom Levshunov who meets all these criteria.

Korchinski is primarily an attacking defenseman, and in duo with Levshunov, the first pair of defensemen would be established for the next 10 to 15 years.

On the other hand, selecting a winger of Ivan Demidov’s calibre could be a perfect “fit” to complement Connor Bedard.

The Hawks will have to decide whether they want an excellent offensive duo, or an excellent first pair of defensemen.

The Ducks’ needs

Next up, it’s the Anaheim Ducks’ turn in the third spot.

With the acquisition of Cutter Gauthier over the course of the season, and with other quality young centers (Trevor Zegras, Leo Carlsson and Mason McTavish), it would be surprising to see the Ducks choose a forward.

However, there are plenty of young defensemen in the organization, especially on the left side.

Quebecer Tristan Luneau comes to mind on the right, but we mustn’t forget Pavel Mintyukov and Olen Zellweger, who are left-handed.

We shouldn’t rule out Quebecers Tyson Hinds (left-handed) and Noah Warren (right-handed), but personally, I don’t see them becoming very good top-4 defenders.

With all this, the Ducks will be looking to pick the missing piece, the best player available.

Assuming the Hawks draft Levshunov and the best right-handed defense prospect is Zayne Parekh, it would be very surprising if they didn’t pick Demidov.

Anton Silayev, a 6’7″ left-handed giant on the blue line, could also help stabilize the defensive side.

Should Chicago select Demidov, Levshunov should be the Ducks’ third overall pick.

Blue Jackets

Now, the crucial moment, the last pick before the Habs: the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In Columbus, prospects are coming out of the woodwork.

Up front, there are youngsters Kent Johnson, Adam Fantilli, Cole Sillinger, Jordan Dumais and James Malatesta, all of whom have the potential to become very good players.

Fantilli and Johnson have the best chance of being so, but we shouldn’t rule out the others.

As for the future of the blue line, David Jiricek (right-handed) and Adam Boqvist (right-handed) are already established professionals.

On the other hand, Denton Mateychuk (left-handed) and Stanislav Svozil (left-handed) also have a very bright future.

If we add (young) veterans Zach Werenski (left-handed) and Ivan Provorov (left-handed), the left side is pretty well endowed and there are several good left-handed defenders in this crop.

Since Johnson, Fantilli and Sillinger are all centers, a winger would be ideal.

On the other hand, it’s important to remember that we can’t go overboard when it comes to top-5 needs, as we often miss out on some real gems.

It’s pretty much carte blanche on the Columbus side, and depending on who is chosen by Chicago and Anaheim, we’ll know more about the Blue Jackets’ first-choice prospect.

Silayev and Sam Dickinson could be excellent choices for Columbus, but Cayden Lindstrom could very well interest the club.

You’re better off with more centers than not enough.

Sillinger and Johnson have already been used on the wing, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the latter officially transferred to the wing.

In short, there are a number of options open to the clubs, but there’s nothing to prevent one of them from swapping their choice to speed up the rebuild and become more competitive.

As for the Canadiens, we can expect (or rather hope) that the Habs will draft a forward.

Lindstrom and Tij Iginla have been the most linked to the Flanelle, but if Demidov ever slips to fifth, it would be quite plausible for the Russian to be chosen.

One thing’s for sure: we can’t predict anything in this draft other than Celebrini.

We’ll have to wait for the other teams’ picks before knowing more about who the Habs will select at No. 5.

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