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Ducks wouldn’t be big fans of drafting KHL or MHL guys
Credit: Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images
The Stanley Cup Final could be over as early as tonight. A Panthers victory and the NHL could officially turn to its off-season festivities: the draft and the opening of the free agent market.

Until then, we can only speculate on the future picks of the 32 teams.

Mathias Brunet lent himself to the game yesterday on BPM Sports. He predicted the top-5.

With the exception of Macklin Celebrini who’s projected to be with the Sharks, it’s very difficult to predict who will come out on top.

Obviously, for the Canadiens, the priority is to draft a forward. But more and more, the possibility of selecting a fullback is gaining ground. My colleague Maxime Truman talked about it this morning. Is Kent Hughes thinking along the same lines? If Ivan Demidov and Cayden Lindstrom are no longer available, I don’t know if he’d dare take Tij Iginla, Berkly Catton or Beckett Sennecke.

The Ducks could be a big help to the Habs. From what Brunet hears, GM Pat Verbeek wouldn’t be a big fan of selecting guys from the KHL or MHL. In fact, Demidov plays in Russia.

So that could open the door for the Habs. Maybe we can cross off the Sharks and Ducks as teams that could “steal” Demidov from the Habs.

But for Anaheim, Brunet mentions Carter Yakemchuk, a guy pretty high on Simon Boisvert’s list, as a potential target. One thing’s for sure, his choice should be a fullback. After all, the club traded one of its top blue-line prospects (Jamie Drysdale) for a forward.

As for the Blackhawks, Brunet thinks defenseman Artyom Levshunov will be the choice. The Belarus-born defenseman is 11th on the Snake’s list, but Brunet clearly sees him higher up. That’s an option shared by many.

The auction’s top defensemen are high-caliber, but not all are unanimous. Between Levshunov, Yakemchuk, Sam Dickinson, Zayne Parekh, Zeev Buium and we could even add Anton Silayev, each has a case for becoming the first defenseman of the 2024 draft to be drafted.

In Columbus’ case, the club, which is looking for a coach, wants a star. They don’t need a specific position, but will simply choose the best player available.

To conclude the top-5, La Presse’s journalist would take Cayden Lindstrom if he’s available in the Habs’ line-up. He’s not worried about his herniated disc. In any case, Montreal and the other teams will do their homework. In addition to Lindstrom, Mathias likes Sam Dickinson, one of the youngest players in the draft. In his opinion, he’s “a little more finished” than the others.

And if there’s one player close to him, it’s Zeev Buium, a complete defenseman whom the Habs really like. But like Dickinson, he’s left-handed. If only one of them could be right-handed…

Overtime

– The answer tonight.

– Signing in St. Louis.

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