Montreal Canadiens: Free Agents Habs Should Target to Play With Shane Wright

Apr 2, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Ondrej Palat. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Ondrej Palat. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Montreal Canadiens are going to pick first overall at the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal. There isn’t a slam dunk definite top pick, but it is pretty darn close.

Shane Wright has been the top ranked prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft by just about everyone since he was playing Minor Midget hockey in Ontario for the Don Mills Flyers. There have been some saying that gap has closed significantly recently, but it is very unlikely the Canadiens pick anyone other than Wright.

The same thing happened to John Tavares in his draft year. Everyone knew he would be the first pick in 2009 when he scored 76 goals in the OHL two years before his NHL Draft would take place. But then as the draft gets closer people start questioning his skating and his intangibles and if he just matured earlier than others which made him look so much better as a 16 year old.

Everybody knew Taylor Hall was going first overall in 2010, but they Taylor vs Tyler (Seguin) “debate” raged on in the weeks leading up to the draft. Twelve years later the debate makes sense, but no one actually thought Seguin was going to be picked before Hall when they were teenagers.

So, the Canadiens are going to take Shane Wright. He is a terrific, smart, two-way centre who can snipe from a distance, averaged an assist per game this season, and is as good or better defensively than he is offensively. He is going to play centre for the Canadiens next season, so the only question is with who?

The Canadiens will now have Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak and Wright down the middle. It is important to put Wright in a position to succeed as an 18 year old in the NHL. What he needs are two-way wingers that slot in on a second line behind Suzuki, Cole Caufield and probably Josh Anderson.

An ideal winger for Wright is Brendan Gallagher. He is a veteran who still has some offence to his game, but is a great defensive winger and he plays the game the right way every night by battling and blocking shots and driving to the net.

The Habs depth chart on the left side includes Jonathan Drouin and Rem Pitlick, but that’s about it. Maybe Pitlick would be a decent fit, but he could end up back on the top line as well That would slide Anderson down to a third line with Dvorak. Drouin isn’t reliable enough to be trusted in such an important situation for the future of the franchise.

The Canadiens may need to target a smart, two-way veteran left winger to give Wright the right protection and guidance in his rookie season. Who could that be?