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Cayden Lindstrom: seeing the Blue Jackets want centers is bad for the Habs
Credit: Getty Images

There’s still about a month to go before the NHL Entry Draft, and even though we’re slowly approaching the fateful moment, it’s still pretty hard to predict anything related to the auction.

Macklin Celebrini will almost certainly be the first player drafted… but who can predict the rest of the top-10 (and even the top-5)?

In the case of the Habs, who draft at No. 5, we know that the club wants a forward. In an ideal world, Ivan Demidov and Cayden Lindstrom would both be available at No. 5, but it’s looking pretty uncertain for Demidov.

The Blackhawks may like Artyom Levshunov… but Demidov is quite a player.

For Lindstrom, it seems more likely… but on The Jeff Marek Show today, Elliotte Friedman talked a bit about the Blue Jackets, and what we understand is that the club really wants to go after center players.

And we wonder if that includes Lindstrom, whom they could draft fourth overall.

The other way to interpret Friedman’s comments is to think that the Blue Jackets are mainly looking for centers who can play in the NHL as early as 2024-25. Unless there’s a surprise, Lindstrom will spend next season in junior, and he’s not necessarily ready to make the leap.

That said, even if the Blue Jackets want guys ready to play center next year, that doesn’t change the fact that the center position is clearly seen as an organizational need. Nothing would prevent the club from picking up 1-2 center players for next year and adding Lindstrom to really solidify its center line.

Talk to Marc Bergevin in 2018: it’s not uncommon to see a team draft a center a little early because the position is seen as an organizational need.

In the same segment, Friedman and Marek discuss Patrik Laine’s future in Columbus. The Finn, who used the player assistance program last season, may be looking for a change of scenery.

Could the Blue Jackets store him for an established center? Possibly.

Getting back to Lindstrom, that said, if he’s in serious consideration for the fourth spot, it would open the door to a “worst-case” scenario for the Habs in which Demidov (in Chicago) and Lindstrom (in Columbus) are both gone. This would force Kent Hughes to take a defenseman (Levshunov, Silayev, Dickinson, etc.)… or back off at the draft, an idea already put forward by David Pagnotta if Lindstrom is no longer available.

We’ll have to keep an eye on that, but there really is a world in which Lindstrom, the second-best center, is no longer available at No. 5. Did I ever tell you that the Habs (really) have to hope that the clubs that draft before them fall in love with the available defensemen?

In gusto

– Big news for the Stars.

– Martin Necas and Tanner Jeannot: two names to watch in Calgary.

– The Jets would like to keep Sean Monahan. [TSLH]

– Wow.

– Indeed.

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