The 2019 NHL Entry Draft starts on Friday night, and the Montreal Canadiens are likely finalizing their list of players they hope to select. As of this writing, the Canadiens hold a total of 10 picks, including the 15th overall pick in the first round. After the first round, the they have two second-round picks and one pick in the third round. The remainder of the Canadiens’ six picks come after the third round.
For the sake of practicality, as well as the unpredictability of who goes where in later rounds, here’s a look at who the Canadiens could select at picks 15, 46, 50, and 77. In this list, I will offer a player I would select if I was making the pick, a player I think the Canadiens will pick, and another interesting option that might be available.
The Canadiens Select with the 15th Pick…
Last week, I examined the players I thought the Canadiens could select in the first round, including Ryan Suzuki, Raphael Lavoie, Thomas Harley and Cam York.
These players should still be on the Canadiens’ radar. However, based on recent draft rankings from The Hockey Writers’ Brandon Share-Cohen and TSN’s Bob McKenzie, I think the Canadiens may go in a different direction.
Who I Would Select: Raphael Lavoie
At no. 15, a player I discussed last week, Raphael Lavoie. Lavoie possesses size, skill, and plays center. He is from Quebec, which is always a nice selling point. He had a strong playoff performance with the Halifax Mooseheads this season and has proven he can produce offence at the junior level. Consistency is the biggest knock against him. McKenzie has him at 19 and Share-Cohen has him at 21.
Who I Think the Canadiens Will Pick: Moritz Seider or Philip Broberg
This is the only time I will offer two players. Moritz Seider and Philip Broberg are two defenders, with very different styles, who are ranked near the 15th spot on McKenzie’s and Share-Cohen’s rankings. Broberg is a left-shot defender with elite speed. The Swedish blueliner slipped in McKenzie’s rankings by eight spots and is now ranked at 16. THW’s final list has him at 13.
Seider is a right-shot with size and plays shutdown defense. The 6-foot-5 German blueliner jumped up six spots in McKenzie’s ranking and Share-Cohen has him at 22. Seider won rookie of the year honours in Germany’s best league (DEL) and seems to be a player who is constantly improving (something the Canadiens admired about Jesperi Kotkaniemi in last year’s draft).
Interesting Player: Spencer Knight
Canadiens fans, do not hate me for this next player. Spencer Knight is the top-rated goalie in this year’s draft and jumped up seven spots in McKenzie’s final rankings (ranked at 12 now). Share-Cohen has the American goalie ranked at 23. Pierre McGuire also called Knight “a franchise player” on TSN1200 radio this week. Obviously, the Canadiens are set at the goalie position with Carey Price and Cayden Primeau in the minors. Still, if you believe a team should draft the best player available, Knight might be that player.
The Canadiens Select with the 46th pick…
Who I Would Select: Albin Grewe
Albin Grewe told reporters at the NHL combine that he admires Brad Marchand. Grewe is the stereotypical “rat” type of player. Although he only stands at 5-foot-11, he plays physical but also has some offensive capabilities. His greatest weakness is his skating but he has plenty of time to improve in this area. McKenzie has him ranked at 48 and Share-Cohen has him at 55.
Who I Think the Canadiens Will Select: John Beecher
John Beecher is ranked at the 41st spot on McKenzie’s list and 43rd on Share-Cohen’s list. If the big American center is still available at 46 I can see general manager Marc Bergevin and his staff selecting him. Beecher is listed at 6-foot-3, is close to 210 pounds and is seen as a solid two-way player.
Interesting Player: Nathan Légaré
Nathan Légaré is from of Montreal and plays for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL. The skilled right winger had a very successful season picking up 45 goals and 42 assists for a total of 87 points. He has decent size and is a right-handed goal-scorer, something the Canadiens are lacking. Share-Cohen has him ranked at 40 and McKenzie has him at 59.
The Canadiens Select with the 50th pick…
Who I Would Select: Alex Beaucage
Alex Beaucage is another Quebec-born player, and if you haven’t already noticed, I am a fan of homegrown talent. He has size, shoots right, plays the wing, and put up 39 goals and 79 points last season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He also put up 16 points in 16 games in the playoffs, helping Rouyn-Noranda win the 2019 Memorial Cup. Share-Cohen has him ranked at 95 and McKenzie has him at 75. With the Canadiens’ next pick being at 77, I wouldn’t risk him being picked by another team.
Who I Think the Canadiens Will Select: Antti Tuomisto
Antti Tuomisto is a Finnish defender with size and has strong offensive numbers when playing within his age group. McKenzie has him ranked at 53 and Share-Cohen has him ranked at 61. Tuomisto is just under 6-foot-5 and has climbed the rankings since the start of the season. Montreal has shown plenty of interest in Finnish players in recent years and Tuomisto would help address the team’s lack of size.
Interesting Player: Anttoni Honka
Players ranked after the first round are usually considered projects. They generally have some strong areas in their game, as well as some areas that need improved upon. Anttoni Honka is this type of player.
The undersized Finnish defender lacks physicality and has struggled in the defensive zone. Where Honka excels is in the offensive zone. He is a an offensively gifted player who could help a team’s power play with his skating and puck-handling. Given the Canadiens’ current needs on the blue line, I think he is a player who might attract the team’s scouting staff. Share-Cohen has Honka at 37 and McKenzie ranked him at 65.
The Canadiens Select with the 77th pick…
Who I Would Select: Ryder Donovan
Ryder Donovan is ranked 78th by McKenzie and Share-Cohen has him at 139. He wrapped up his senior year in the USHS-MN league (high school) and has committed to the University of Wisconsin for next season.
Donavan has played both center and right wing, has great size at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds and plays a strong two-way game. He reminds me of Canadiens prospect Ryan Poehling, both two-way centers with size and both are Minnesota kids. Donovan is a bit of a risky pick as we haven’t seen him much in higher skilled leagues, but his skillset makes him a player who could develop into a solid NHL player.
Who I Think the Canadiens Will Select: Adam Beckman
In Adam Beckman’s rookie WHL season playing for the Spokane Chiefs, he notched 32 goals and 30 assists for 62 points. The Saskatoon winger has size, standing at 6-foot-1, but is on the lighter side at 168 pounds, so he will need to bulk up considerably if he ever wants to reach the NHL.
He is a very “raw” player, having only one full season in the WHL. He has a knack for scoring goals near the net and plays with a lot of energy. Share-Cohen has him ranked at 42, however, McKenzie has him at 64. If he slides to 77, I could see Bergevin and his staff having plenty of interest in him.
Interesting Player: Ronnie Attard
Three seems to be the lucky number for 20-year-old Ronnie Attard. The American defenseman is entering the entry draft for the third time (he was not selected the previous two years) and is ranked around the third round in this year’s draft.
The 6-foot-3, right-shot blueliner had a breakout season with Tri-City Storm of the USHL, picking up 65 points in 48 games, making him the USHL’s top scoring defenseman. This was an impressive jump in points compared to the season prior when he only notched 15 points in 50 games. Attard is big, has a cannon of a shot and is a character type of player, something we know Bergevin admires. Share-Cohen has him ranked at 109 and McKenzie has him at 87.
The NHL Entry Draft is a gamble. These players are so young that it makes projecting which players will make it and which will not very difficult. Often, we see players picked in the first round who never reach the NHL, and players who were picked in the later rounds who become NHL regulars. This is simply the reality of the draft, which makes it both fun and stressful for everyone involved.