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Selecting Iginla before Lindstrom: a WHL coach wouldn’t hesitate
Credit: Photo by Dale Preston/Getty Images

We’re now just 20 days away from the start of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, with the first round taking place on June 28.

The month of June is well underway, and June in the NHL means endless rumors and analysis about the various prospects who will be available at the draft.

The combine just wrapped up yesterday, and so we enter the home stretch, heading for June 28 and the first round of the draft.

As everyone knows, the Montreal Canadiens hold the fifth overall pick (as they did in 2023), and will therefore have the chance to get their hands on a very solid prospect.

Of course, the rumors surrounding the Habs’ potential pick are mostly about forwards, since it’s common knowledge that the Tricolore wants to add talent to their attack.

Fortunately for the Tricolore, there will be several very good options.

Probably the most popular prospect among Canadiens fans right now is 6’3″ center Cayden Lindstrom.

If he’s still available at No. 5, he’ll certainly be an excellent choice that will make the vast majority of fans happy.

But would it be the best choice?

Well, according to one WHL coach, even if Lindstrom is available, he’d take Tij Iginla first.

Indeed, Kris Mallette, head coach of the Kelowna Rockets (Iginla’s team), sincerely believes that Iginla deserves to be drafted ahead of Lindstrom.

Mallette had the chance to coach both players, as he was behind Canada’s bench at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, and was therefore able to get an idea of the similarities and differences between the two players.

For Mallette, even though Lindstrom is considered by many to be the best player in the WHL for this NHL draft, he would select Iginla first.

He explains that, based on his observations, Iginla has a better hockey sense than Lindstrom, and that this will help him more once in the NHL.

“Cayden (6’3 and 210 lbs.) has exceptional physical skills, he’s already ready for the NHL at this level. He’s very big, he’s strong, but I don’t think his hockey sense is as good as the other two. As for Berkly (5’11 and 170 lbs.), I don’t think he’s going to get any bigger, while Tij (6’0 and 182 lbs.) can add muscle to his frame.” – Kris Mallette

Despite all this, Mallette would be greatly surprised if the Habs selected Iginla, when he truly believes that the Habs want to get bigger.

All this remains to be seen, as we know that Kent Hughes and his team are very fond of both prospects, having had dinner with both of them.

Iginla’s name is very exciting to many Habs fans because of his father’s exploits, but in the end, as Mallette explains, it’s not the same player.

You have to separate the two.

To find out more, here’s an excellent article by Éric Leblanc.

En Rafale

– Not to be missed tonight.

– Up next.

– The QMJHL draft continues today.

– Please note.

– A fine performance on his part.

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