The Montreal Canadiens will enter the draft with few desperate needs. They had a horrible season that included chaos in the administration, coaching Non-Francophone-roulette, injuries galore and substandard performances from key players. Realistically though given the previous years performance, the growth of players like Paccioretty and Diaz going nuclear isn’t reasonable.
The top need would be for an effective center for the two lines. With the third pick it’s unlikely the draft will be over before they choose. Russian Mikhail Grigorenko could be just the pick. Having played in the Q this season he spent his first North American hockey season playing right in the Habs backyard. With a set of solid numbers and a high ranking by NHL Scouting Central and International Scouting Services all year, he might just be the best option. He could also be gone.
Riskier because of injury, but less likely to bolt to the KHL is American Alex Galchenyuk. An injury cost him nearly all of his season, but he had a strong performance at the NHL Entry Draft Combine. He also picked up four points after returning from his knee injury. Virtually the same size as Grigorenko, Galchenyuk was just the fourth American born player to be taken at number one in the OHL priority draft.
Other names that are less likely, but could still happen are Radek Faksa of the Kitchner Rangers. Another big body, the left shooting center just finished his rookie season in the OHL, and represented his native Czech Republic at the World Juniors. Filip Forsberg is the top ranked European, but like Thomas Hertl of the Czeck Republic might be downgraded similar to college players for the shorter seasons of many European leagues when compared to the major junior or NHL seasons.
While I don’t see a defensemen as the most needs based move, I’m not their general manager or head of scouting. there’s a lot of good blueline talent. There is even a very slight possibility Yakupov could drop to third. Another option is drafting a top goaltending prospect, like one Malcom Subban.
The big question affecting the draft and all else is how well management feels negotiations are progressing with key players on expired contracts at the time of the draft. Carey Price and P.K. Subban have to be considered priorities 1a and 1b, while both are RFA’s the NHL’s dead letter known as the offer sheet remains a possibility for both. There aren’t many starting goalies of any quality available this off season, and arguably none of Price’s ability. Subban is also an intriguing option for a team moving upwards. He’s about the same age as the young forward cadre and Edmonton and on the New York Islanders.