TVA Sport’s Renaud Lavoie reported yesterday that Marc Bergevin is looking to move up from 26 at this years NHL entry draft. I believe that this draft isn’t as deep as last years so Bergevin and Co. may be sold on fewer players than 2013 and therefor would like the chance at prospects that may go sooner than 26 for their comfort. Head scout Trevor Timmins may have also found the gem that Bergevin wants for his team and is worried that his player will not be around by the time the Habs announce their pick.
Bergevin hasn’t given any clues to what kind of player he is looking to select a week from today but that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.
With Carey Price, Peter Budaj, Dustin Tokarski, and the young Zach Fucale in their system the Habs are in no need of goaltending depth. The team is also stacked with top 6 centers with Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais all being able to play those minutes.
The teams defense is strong on the left with D prospects Nathan Beaulieu and Jared Tinordi that will join the core of this team to go along with Josh Gorges, (should be left D)Alexei Emelin and potentially Andrei Markov. The teams right defense isn’t as deep but with P.K. Subban being the team all star, the potential of resigning the reliable Mike Weaver and very good prospect Greg Pateryn the team would more-than-likely be targeting UFA’s Anton Stralman or Matt Niskanen to fill any depth they need on the right side.
So with Goalie, Center and Defense not in prime need at the draft we deduce that Bergevin wants to move up to draft a winger.
The team currently has one 30+ goal scoring winger on the left side with Max Pacioretty and one solid top 6 winger in Brendan Gallagher on the right side. If we believe Alex Galchenyuk is not to be used as a winger then the Habs do not have any more scoring depth on the wing than the two previously mentioned. But with further digging we see there is a big divide in prospects on each of the wings.
The teams left wing prospects feature potential top-six wingers Arturri Lehkonen, Charles Hudon, Sven Andrighetto and Martin Reway which means they are set for the future even if one or two do not reach full potential.
With the loss of Sebastian Collberg the Habs only have Michael McCarron and Jacob de la Rose as right-wingers that may one day find their way onto the Habs. McCarron seems to be a guaranteed 4th liner and possible third liner whereas de la Rose is almost a guaranteed 3rd line NHLer with outside potential at the top 6.
To go even deeper we see that all of the left wingers mentioned as well as right wing prospect de la Rose are left-handed leaving only McCarron as a right-handed prospect that could make the team in the foreseeable future.
With Tomas Vanek likely walking from the team the Habs only have Gallagher as a right-handed top nine forward. If you do not believe this is a problem ask anyone you know who plays defense in hockey if it makes a difference; they will say yes. It is much easier to make a breakout-pass to a right-handed player on the right wing (likewise left-handed on left side) than a left handed player. A line of all left handed players means that the left-side is the prime area in where you want to break out the passes and if it is closed off the chances of your team needing to dump-and-chase is much greater.
The Habs can hopefully make a trade for a RH top six forward or target Vanek, Jarome Iginla or Ales Hemsky in free-agency to fill the need but it doesn’t change the organizational need of RH prospects.
So I have deduced that the teams biggest need is a RH prospect with top-six potential and if Bergevin wants to move up that is the player they will target.
To be reasonable we will only give Bergevin the ability to trade up to 15 in this speculation blog. So what RH top-six potential winger could Bergevin be looking at that could go 15+ next Friday?
The answer is undoubtably: David Pastrnak.
Going through all of the most recognized draft rankings it looks Pastrnak is going to be drafted around 15-25. Corey Pronman from ESPN has him at the highest at 16.
eliteprospects.com says “Pasternak is a flashy, electrifying offensive talent with gifted hands and shiftiness in his feet. He also has a bullet shot and is a very dangerous finisher.” It goes on to say he has good lateral elusiveness to avoid opponents.
Reports also say that Pastrnak has good size but is very light (6’0 168 lbs) and needs to fill out as well as that he needs to work on his defensive game but has the intelligence to do so.
David played in Sodertalje in a Swedish league last season and scored 24 points in 36 games. He also scored 10 points in 12 international games for the Czech Republic at the under-18 level.
Pastrnak fits the bill for Montreal as a RH winger with the potential as a top-six scoring forward. He is also all but guaranteed to play top 6 minutes at the international level with the Czech and that experience is always good for prospects.
So who could Bergevin trade with to possibly pick up the Czech stud? San Jose at 20 or St. Louis at 21 are two teams that could take a middle of the pack prospect and the Habs 26th pick as they both are good at drafting late and have no significant needs at the draft. The Tampa Bay Lightning have two first-round picks but are less likely to trade the 19th pick to their division rivals.
The Habs can also look to Columbus at 16 who had a great draft last year and are more looking to add roster players that the Habs may be able to provide.
Whatever the Habs plan to do I believe their target is Pastrnak. He is the most reliable prospect that fits into the teams future the greatest. And the possibility of a first line of Pacioretty-Galchenyuk-Pastrnak has the potential to be the most syllable’s in a line, ever. He just fits.
Do you agree with me? Who do you want the Habs to draft? What do you think Bergevin will do? Let me know in the comments or message me on twitter!