Montreal Canadiens: Makes Sense to Turn… Whatever This Is, Into a Two Year Tank

The Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes will face each other tomorrow night as both teams sit at the bottom of the NHL standings.

The odd thing is, one team expected to be right where they are and the other team actually thought they were good.

The Coyotes traded away just about anyone who was an average NHL talent or better. Darcy Kuemper, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Alex Goligoski, and of course Christian Dvorak all left the Coyotes following last season.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens thought they were headed back to the postseason after a run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. They brought in David Savard and Dvorak and Mathieu Perreault, Chris Wideman and Mike Hoffman to try and plug holes in the lineup and continue to contend.

But that has not even been close to the case for this year’s Habs. They sit last in the entire National Hockey League right now with a 7-24-5 record and are certain to miss the playoffs, knowing that was their fate after about ten hockey games this season.

Now that they are here, at the bottom of the standings, they would be wise to stay there until the end of next season.

The Canadiens are sure to get a really high pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, maybe even the first overall. That would obviously be a great consolation prize for an awful season, but even if they get Shane Wright, the prize of this year’s NHL Draft, there are much more intriguing options available at next year’s NHL Draft.

That’s no slight to Wright. The 17 year old probably hasn’t lived up to the intense expectations of him this season but he has 30 points in 23 games for the Kingston Frontenacs. He profiles as a future top line centre that is an excellent two-way player and the Canadiens would be lucky to draft him.

But next year’s first overall pick is going to be Connor Bedard and he is just a step ahead. He might become one of the most hyped prospects of all time before going first overall in 2023. Bedard has 18 goals and 28 points in 25 games this season for the Regina Pats. Last season, as a 15 year old he scored 28 points in 15 games.

The 16 year old centre scored four goals in a game for Canada at the World Juniors before it was cancelled and has the talent to be the best player in the world in a couple of years.

Even if the Habs can’t land the first overall pick in 2023, falling to second and taking Adam Fantilli would be just fine. The 17 year old plays for the Chicago Steel of the USHL where he has scored 23 goals and 39 points in 28 games this season.

The third elite level player that will be available in 2023 is Russian Matvei Michkov. He had three goals in two games at the World Juniors before it was shut down and it tearing up the Russia Junior league with 17 goals and 28 points in just 11 games. he scored 12 goals and 16 points in seven games at the World Under 18 Championship last season and he was only 16.

All three players look to be franchise NHL players in the making. Drafting anywhere in the top three next year is going to be a great place to be.

There are great players available this season as well. Drafting Wright would be fantastic for the Canadiens, so would adding a big right shot defender like Simon Nemec or David Jiricek or a scoring forward like Logan Cooley, Joakim Kemell or Matthew Savoie.

The Canadiens will get an excellent prospect at the 2022 NHL Draft. But, since they are this bad right now, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to turn it into a two year tank where they end up with a top three pick in 2023 as well.