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Ivan Demidov can slide all the way to the Canadiens
Credit: Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

That’s it: it’s draft day.

In Montreal, fans have been so invested in knowing who will or won’t be available at #5 that it will be nice to finally have some answers to questions that have been asked for months.

Obviously, the Montreal Canadiens have 12 picks lined up for the auction, but the #5 pick in total is attracting more attention than the Oilers’ seventh-round slot, for example.

(Credit: CapFriendly)

In the coming days, we’ll have to keep an eye on who the #5 pick will be, whether pick #26 will be traded for immediate reinforcement, whether a Quebecer from the QMJHL will be drafted, whether a transaction involving a young defenseman will materialize, and so on.

There will be no shortage of action.

But to know who the Canadiens will draft, we first need to know who will be available. Then we need to establish who the Flanelle’s priorities are in terms of players who won’t make the top-4.

Everyone’s been playing this game for two months now… and the answers vary widely.

In the most recent episode of Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Mark’s 32 Thoughts podcast, the two guys tried to play “who’s going to go out in the top-5 tonight” and it’s no surprise that Macklin Celebrini is at the top of the list.

But it’s obviously the rest that interests us.

According to what Jeff Marek has heard between the branches, he sees Artyom Levshunov coming out at #2, which is no surprise. But at #3, on the Ducks, he thinks Californian Zeev Buium could be Martin Madden Jr.’s choice.

And that’s a game-changer.

Jeff Marek then sees Cayden Lindstrom exit at #4 in Columbus before seeing Russian Ivan Demidov fall to the Habs to end the top-5.

This would be a dream scenario for many Habs fans, who want either Demidov or Lindstrom.

But does that mean it’s going to happen? Not necessarily. After all, apart from Celebrini, nothing is set in stone… although I’d be very surprised to see Levshunov ignored by the Hawks .

Anaheim has the potential to change everything by drafting just about anyone.

However, when you listen to Friedman’s comments, you realize that the Blue Jackets really can change everything with the #4 pick in tonight’s draft.

Why? Because a trade really is possible. Don Waddell, fresh off the job, would be motivated to make a big move, and his #4 pick is obviously on the table.

It’s rare for a top-5 pick to be traded, but could Waddell, who probably didn’t have time to fall in love with a top prospect this year because he was in charge of a club (Hurricanes) that won’t draft as high, do it? He might.

Friedman points out that the Flyers, as we know, tried to convince the Blue Jackets to trade them their #4 pick. We can assume that the club, angry at seeing the Sharks move up to 11th (Cole Eiserman?), now wants to give away their 12th pick to get Ivan Demidov.

Talks could resume between Columbus and Philly, but there could also be another club in the running. And Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if it involved Carolina in the Martin Necas case.

And if that happens, I’ll have been wrong when I said, a few paragraphs ago, that the Canes won’t be drafting with a top pick this year…

It’s also worth noting that the Flames could possibly look to move up to the fourth spot if the club feels that Tij Iginla could fall into the hands of the Habs, for example.

But the question is: how badly does the Habs want Jarome’s son?

There seem to be several schools of thought on the subject. There are those, like Tony Marinaro, who believe that the Habs won’t draft a defenseman if Lindstrom and Demidov aren’t there. In his eyes, Iginla is a possibility.

And there are those who see a defenseman coming to town under the right conditions. Craig Button is one of them.

But is he guaranteed to see the Habs draft Demidov if he becomes available? In my eyes, it’s not necessarily a certainty, no.

I think the Habs like him, although François Gagnon didn’t seem to think Jeff Gorton was the Russian’s #1 fan when he met the media yesterday.

Let’s note, if we want to go François Gagnon’s way, that according to The Athletic’s latest mock draft model, Ivan Demidov could slip out of the top-5.

Here’s what the top of the draft will look like, according to Corey Pronman and his sources. He sees eight players (!) going before Demidov to the Flames.

  1. Macklin Celebrini
  2. Artyom Levshunov
  3. Anton Silayev
  4. Cayden Lindstrom
  5. Zeev Buium
  6. Sam Dickinson
  7. Beckett Sennecke
  8. Carter Yakemchuk

What I notice is that Pronman, in his text, mentions that even if the Habs prefer a forward, seeing a defenseman of Buium’s calibre available would give Montreal management pause.

In his opinion, many teams could take Buium before Demidov. A defenseman of this calibre is impossible (or almost, we agree) to find any other way… especially for a Habs who won’t aspire to draft this high in 2025.

Even if Pronman mentions that if Lindstrom were available at #5, it would mean that teams ahead of the Habs would be afraid of his back, I think he’ll be in play for the Flanelle.

In fact, right now, I think it’s going to come down to Demidov, Lindstrom and Buium. But we’ll see once we’re back on the farm.

(Credit: Tankathon)


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