Canadiens Draft Options: Possibility for Trading Up

Nov 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin speaks at a press conference before the game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin speaks at a press conference before the game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

With so many rumors linking the Canadiens to trading up in the draft, the possibility seems fairly realistic.

On April 30th, the NHL’s draft lottery was held. The Canadiens remained at the 9th position and are primed to have just their 3rd Top 10 pick since 2005. The previous two two times, the Canadiens were able to select franchise calbre players in Carey Price and Alex Galchenyuk.

The question now is, can the Canadiens select that kind of player at the 9th position? The obvious answer is yes. We’ve seen it in the past with Brian Leetch and Cam Neely, two Hall of Fame players who were chosen with previous 9th overall picks.

However, as with all picks outside of the top 5 or 7, the odds of getting that franchise player drop significantly.

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So, are the Canadiens better off dealing assets in an attempt to move up in the draft? Depending on the targeted player, it could be very a wise move.

The History of Top 5 Picks Being Traded

Since the 2003 Draft, a team has moved out of a Top 5 pick just 2 times.

In 2008, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded their 7th pick, their 68th pick and a 2009 2nd rounder for the New York Islanders 5th overall pick. The Leafs did it to move up and grab defender Luke Schenn.

In 2004, the Carolina Hurricanes traded their 8th pick and the 59th pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 4th pick. The Canes did it to move up and select winger Andrew Ladd.

In both of these trades, the team trading up did so to select a player that was believed to be a top 3 calibre pick that dropped.

The Potential Cost and Trade Partner

Of the 2016 Top 5 picks, the one that appears most likely to be available is Edmonton’s 4th overall pick. Many media outlets have been trying to connect the Oilers and Canadiens in draft day trade talks since early May. Most of it has been revolving around finding a way to get P.K. Subban to Edmonton, despite how ridiculous that notion is. However, if you take the Subban part out, you have a more realistic trade scenario and one that could make sense.

The Canadiens are obviously interested in hometown kid Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Oilers could be tempted with at least one of Jakub Chychrun, Mikhail Sergachev and/or Olli Juolevi likely being available at 9th while also picking up additional assets. So if Montreal and Edmonton were to hook up for a trade on draft day, what would it look like?

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Based on the above trades, both of which are admittedly outdated by today’s standards, the minimal cost for the Canadiens to move up to the 4th spot will be their 9th pick plus one of their 2nd round picks(39th or 45th). That basis is also not factoring a potential bidding war.

Additional assets would most definitely need to be in the trade. Some of those assets could include a roster player or two, additional draft picks either this year or next or even prospects.

The Canadiens Targets if Moving Up

Their really is only one target for the Canadiens if they pull the trigger and move up and that is Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Dubois was recently ranked as the #1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. Dubois has a unique combination of size, skill and speed that have scouts drawing comparisons to Anze Kopitar, Jamie Benn and James Neal.

Dubois is capable at either center or left wing and posted 99 points(42 G, 57 A) in 62 games for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles this season. Joe Curtis of Elite Prospects offered some very high praise to the Quebec-born forward:

"A similarly punishing two-way forward with size and zero deficiencies, Anze Kopitar, is the type of player Dubois will aspire to become at the next level. Pierre-Luc Dubois has the potential to develop into an elite two-way forward that excels as a positive catalyst in every facet of the roles he can play, be it the dynamic scorer, the set-up man, the intimidating power forward, or the defensive-minded shutdown guy. He is the type of player nobody likes to play against."

Outside of Dubois, the Canadiens could look at London Knights prospects Matthew Tkachuk or Olli Juolevi. If Dubois’ stock has risen so much that he is taken with one of the top 3 picks, the Canadiens could also look at Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi. Regardless of who else is available, the Canadiens prime target for moving up would be first and foremost Pierre-Luc Dubois.