The 2013 NHL Draft is fast approaching as all seven rounds of the event will take place in New Jersey on Sunday, June 30th. The Montreal Canadiens are poised to be one of the busiest teams of the early rounds, as some past wheeling and dealing has led to them holding eight total picks, including six in the first three rounds.
Former General Manager Pierre Gauthier sent Andrei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators at last year’s trade deadline and received their second round pick in the 2013 draft in return. Gauthier also secured the Calgary Flames second rounder this year, in a large deal that included Mike Cammalleri going back to Calgary and Rene Bourque coming to Montreal. Fortunately for the Canadiens, both Nashville and Calgary struggled this season, resulting in Montreal receiving the 34th and 36thoverall picks in addition to their own.
The Canadiens also received a 3rd round pick from the Dallas Stars along with Michael Ryder in the deal that sent Erik Cole to Texas. Montreal dealt away their 4th round pick to the New York Islanders two years ago in a trade for James Wisniewski as well as their 5th round pick when Davis Drewiske was added from the Los Angeles Kings.
With the trade dust settled (for now), Montreal is slated to pick at 25th, 34th, 36th, 55th, 71st, 86th, 176th and 206th.
The 2013 draft is widely regarded as the deepest since 2003. This makes Montreal’s plethora of early picks all the more exciting. General Manager Marc Bergevin began to re-stock the prospect cupboard with an excellent draft a year ago and is poised to continue that trend with three of the first 36 selections this year.
Having so many picks in the top three rounds will give Bergevin options in his approach to the draft. He can move up a few slots to get his primary target by making an attractive package of picks if he so desires. With the depth of the draft, Bergevin could also add picks by moving back in the draft to land more than eight new prospects. Of course, Bergevin could be satisfied with how his picks stand now and remain status quo when it comes to his selections.
The biggest need of the Montreal Canadiens is to sprinkle some size into a lineup that produced plenty of offense in a 48 game season, but bowed out in the first round of the playoffs. The lack of size and toughness on the Canadiens roster was magnified when Alexei Emelin was injured late in the season. Montreal became far too easy to play against and struggled mightily down the stretch and in the postseason.
In such a deep draft, having their own first round pick as well as two early second round picks, is like having three late first rounders in an ordinary draft. This gives the Canadiens management team an excellent opportunity to fix their biggest organizational need.
With the 25th pick, the Canadiens could be able to add Kerby Rychel, Frederic Gauthier, Anthony Mantha, Valentin Zykov or Ryan Hartman. All of these players are big, physical forwards who add a significant offensive punch as well. These players would be long gone by the 25thpick any other year, but this year, at least one of them will be still be available when the Canadiens proceed to the podium late in the opening round.
Most of the aforementioned prospects will likely be selected by the time Montreal makes its second round picks, but if size and skill is on the Canadiens mind there will be plenty of options to choose from. Justin Bailey, Michael McCarron, Anthony Duclair, Jacob de la Rose could be available or defenders Ian McCoshen, Chris Bigras, Madison Bowey or Dillon Heatherington could all fill the need.
Eleven days before the NHL draft, there is plenty of time to go more in depth on some of the prospects that will undoubtedly be on the Canadiens radar. As we can see here, there is an excellent chance the Canadiens will be able to add several sizeable players with some scoring punch.
After adding an impressive amount of talent at last year’s draft in Alex Galchenyuk, Sebastien Collberg, Tim Bozon, Charles Hudon and Dalton Thrower, if Bergevin can capitalize on his extra picks, the Canadiens could have one of the deepest prospect pools in the league.