3 Moves the Canadiens Won’t Make at the 2022 Draft

It is just days before the NHL Draft, and Montreal Canadiens fans are waiting patiently to see who their team will pick first and what moves general manager (GM) Kent Hughes will make. He has stated in many interviews that they want to clear cap space and improve the team without hurting the future. This is a massive hint that the Habs will be looking to make moves before the start of the season. The entry draft is always a good place to make those moves, and there are tons of rumours swirling around on what trades could be made. The Canadiens will make a splash at this year’s draft, but there are a few things that probably won’t happen, at least not right now.

1. Canadiens Will Not Draft Cooley

The first overall pick is an essential pick to make for any team in the position to do so. The Canadiens are in place to make the first pick this year, and GM Hughes has recently said that the pick has been narrowed down to three players; Shane Wright, the consensus number one pick by most scouting organizations; Juraj Slafkovsky, who was dominant in international play for Slovakia, and Logan Cooley, a player in the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) who Hughes knows from his coaching days in New England before he became GM of the Habs. Of these three players, most think that Wright will be drafted first, but a growing number of scouts, media personnel and fans have turned their attention to Slafkovsky as the potential pick for the Canadiens.

Logan Cooley USNTDP
Logan Cooley, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Cooley, who is expected to be drafted in the top five, isn’t getting as much attention as the other two to be the number one pick, and for a good reason. He is a tremendous two-way center who is very well skilled in the faceoff circle. He is a great skater with lots of skill and is exciting to watch, but he isn’t as experienced or the same size as the other two players. He has also said he is committed to playing with the University of Michigan in the NCAA.

The Habs’ GM has mentioned that they are not worried if the pick isn’t ready right away, but there is a sense that they want someone close to being prepared. Wright has the IQ and skill, and Slafkovsky has the size and strength; both are slightly more advanced in their development than Cooley is. The Canadiens need to pick a sure thing with the first pick, and he will be a bit of a stretch if they draft him; therefore, don’t get too excited about him getting drafted first overall.

2. Canadiens Will Not Keep Most of Their Picks

The Habs stockpiled picks for years under old GM Marc Bergevin and have not traded many of them to move up in the draft or get a player to improve the team. With the team under new management this season, that tradition could change. The Canadiens have 14 picks at this year’s draft, and half of those are in the first three rounds of the draft, with the Habs picking first in every round. They also have three of the first 33 picks, putting them in a great position to get multiple skilled players or move those picks for a higher first-round selection.

Kent Hughes, Montreal Canadiens GM
Kent Hughes, Montreal Canadiens general manager (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Hughes has hinted several times that he would like to move up in the draft, and the 26th and 33rd picks could be used to help do that. Depending on how high they want to trade up, it might take more than picks, as many names have been mentioned in a possible trade to get another top-ten selection. Josh Anderson, Jeff Petry and Cole Caufield have all been mentioned, but it’s improbable any get traded for a better pick, although Petry is a possibility. One thing is for sure, though, the Canadiens will not use all 14 of their picks, and if I were a betting man, I would say they pick less than half of them.

3. Canadiens Will Not Trade for 2nd Overall

There have been many rumours stating the Canadiens would like to trade for the second pick in the draft. Trading for the second pick is unrealistic and would be a poor move by Habs management, primarily if they exchange their first pick. If they want the player that might be drafted second, they could pick him first, so it wouldn’t make sense to swap those two picks. The only way Montreal should consider trading for the second overall pick would use later-round draft picks and team prospects and players, which could hinder their plans and not help them.

Related: 4 Takeaways From Canadiens’ Pre-Draft Media Availability

The chance of the Canadiens acquiring the second pick is very low – slim to none, I would say. The New Jersey Devils will be looking for a huge payday to give up the second pick, especially if it’s a guy who could go as the first pick. The Habs would need to give up something pretty significant to acquire that pick, such as Caufield, Alexander Romanov or their first pick, to start the talks. This price would be too high for Hughes to consider, especially if he knows how vital these two players are to the franchise’s future. It would make no sense to trade away proven players for a maybe, especially if that team is considered a good partner for one of the players that could be traded like Caufield. If your heart is set on picking first and second, you will be in for a big disappointment.

Whatever happens on draft day, the Canadiens will be very busy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few trades were made involving players and picks. Hughes has mentioned he would like to move up in the draft, and he also wants to clear cap space. That there tells you they will be busy on the phones, and it will be a very different draft day for the Habs than when Bergevin was running the show.

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