The Montreal Canadiens will draft fifth overall at the next NHL auction according to Monday night’s draw.
The CH had only an 8.5% chance of winning the first selection. It instead went to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Anaheim Ducks will speak in second place, just before the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“Since the end of the season, we knew that we had a much better chance of drafting between the fifth and seventh rank. It’s not a surprise for us, the reverse would have been much more surprising, ”said Habs general manager Kent Hughes in a videoconference.
The Ducks were however the best placed to win with 25.5% chance. The Jackets (13.5%) and Hawks (11.5%) followed in order.
The lottery determined the top 16 picks in the first round of the draft. All teams that did not make the playoffs stood a chance to improve their draft rank, but only 11 teams had a chance of earning the top pick.
“We had almost a better chance of picking sixth than fifth, so we’re happy. For sure, we would have liked to have had the first choice, but the odds were not on our side. We planned our picks in anticipation of drafting between fifth and seventh,” added Hughes.
The NHL changed the lottery format in 2021. The most notable change was that teams could only advance 10 spots in the lottery process.
At the fifth level, the Canadians will have the chance to get their hands on a talented young player. Will Smith, Zach Benson and Matvei Michkov could well be available when the CH advance to the podium.
“There is not one type of player we are looking for in particular. We are looking for the most talented player who can help our team for many years to come. ”
Michkov’s case, however, remains unclear. The young Russian striker has long been tipped as the second best player for this repechage. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, North American scouts have not been able to scout much of the KHL players; Michkov is also under contract until 2026 in Russia.
“It is certainly a special case. We’re going to do our homework and figure out what kind of player he is to see if he would be a good pick for us at No. 5. ”
In view of the 2023 auction, the CH also has the first round choice of the Florida Panthers. The Panthers’ pick could be 17th overall, but could also drop several spots if the Panthers continue their playoff run. Could the Habs be tempted to trade this pick?
“I think we always have to be prepared to use all of our picks,” Hughes said. It is certain that we will see discussions with other formations and we will do what is best for our organization.
“If we’re able to trade that pick to improve our team, we’ll definitely do it. We will look at all the possibilities for our team. Last year we acquired Kirby Dach in the draft, but I can tell you that a month before that was not in our plans. ”
Connor Bedard is tipped as the first choice. Bedard led the Canadian Hockey League in scoring with 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games. The North Vancouver, B.C. native also shone internationally at the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship, setting a record for the most points by a Canadian player at the tournament with 23.
Once his name is spoken, Bedard will become the first Western Junior League (WHL) player to be selected No. 1 since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a former Red Deer Rebels, was selected by the Oilers in Edmonton in 2011.