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Kent Hughes no longer has to hide his game: he’s (very) happy to have Ivan Demidov
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And how did you like your first round of the draft? In my opinion, many Canadiens fans who haven’t had much to brag about in months will answer yes to this one.

Over the course of the day, Kent Hughes, Jeff Gorton and the Habs garnered attention four times: when the Kings deal was made, when Céline Dion showed up on stage, when Ivan Demidov’s name was called and when Michael Hage was acquired.

So, in the end, the Habs made two first-round selections. The CH did not make another transaction after the one involving Los Angeles’ first-round pick.

Did the Habs have a perfect day? There’s no such thing as a perfect day…. but what the Habs did came pretty close to what would have been perfect, we’ll say.

The proof? The Sharks drafted Macklin Celebrini and Sam Dickinson (11th overall), which means the club may have acquired its #1 forward and #1 defenseman of the future… and yet, Corey Pronman(The Athletic) has the Habs first on his list of the night’s winners.

The fact that Macklin Celebrini didn’t slide into the draft like Ivan Demidov works in the Habs’ favor, but it says a lot about the Habs’ day, nonetheless.

And it puts Matvei Michkov out of the conversation.

After all, we’ve said it 1,000 times, but it’s worth repeating: Ivan Demidov is not only the Habs’ best prospect, but he’s also adding some big-name talent that the system has been lacking.

With Demidov on the roster, the Habs have a talented player who can change everything.

Kent Hughes wasn’t afraid to say it: Demidov was at the top of his club’s list. Celebrini wasn’t on the list since everyone knew he was going to San Jose.

Hughes probably smiled when he saw Artyom Levshunov, Beckett Sennecke and Cayden Lindstrom starting in rows two through four.

The Canadiens’ GM says Demidov has been on the club’s radar for a long time. But by necessity, the club hoped its interest in the talented forward wouldn’t be too visible.

That’s why the GM and VP didn’t visit him in Florida. The Canadiens were represented, but not sending the two bosses was done in the hope of fooling the other teams.

In the run-up to the draft, everyone lies. – Elliotte Friedman, in a recent 32 Thoughts podcast

Adding Demidov, a game-changer who grew up loving Kobe Bryant, was the right thing to do. While I wouldn’t have said no to adding a defenseman who would have instantly become the club’s top blue-line prospect, doing so while Demidov was available would have been a mistake.

And Kent Hughes knows it.

The Canadiens’ GM has turned down trade offers to get out of the top-5. It’s assumed that the Predators have come back with Yaroslav Askarov. We know that the Flames, who saw Tij Iginla exit at No. 6, have also been talking to the Habs. We wonder why…

But the possibility of adding Demidov was too attractive. There was no way the GM was going to trade his pick.

The addition of Michael Hage (the first North American player drafted in the first round by the Habs since the HuGo era) is also interesting. And what I feel is that already, fans like what they see. And not just because he speaks French

When the Habs drafted Filip Mesar in 2022, there was no excitement. But now, with Hage, there is.

I’m not saying that Hage will be better than Mesar just because he seems more appreciated on a summer’s night at 18, of course. But what I am saying is that the wave is positive towards him.

Obviously, talking about the 2021 series against Toronto helps you make friends… but he was seen as a good selection before that.

I don’t know how upset the club is to have seen Sacha Boisvert, Trevor Connelly and Cole Eiserman go from 18 to 20, just before the Habs’ pick. The GM won’t say so publicly if that’s the case.

But it’s worth mentioning that yes, Hage was targeted by the Habs when he acquired the 21st pick. Kent Hughes even said this to the guys at 98.5 FM after the Ontarian was selected:

If he hadn’t been there, we would have traded our pick. – Kent Hughes on Michael Hage

He was the Habs’ first choice for this pick. The Habs had him higher on their list.

Although many fans would have liked Sacha Boisvert (and the Habs, too, in my opinion) or a QMJHL player, adding such a center to the roster is interesting. That’s what it takes, with a first-round pick.


Remember that the Canadiens don’t have a second-round pick at the moment. That said, that doesn’t mean everything, as transactions are a possibility for the Habs.

And it’s not just picks that are on the line, let’s face it…

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