2024 NHL Draft: Canadiens' Options After Moving Up To 21st Pick

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens made an intriguing move on Friday afternoon when they traded the 26th, 57th, and 198th overall picks to the Los Angeles Kings to move up to 21st. From the outside looking in, it seems like a steep price to move up five spots, but for a team trying to maximize their offensive talent, it could mean the difference between drafting a stud or a bust.

There is a run of forwards available in the 20s, but the Habs would have been in the position of drafting the last one available if they had stayed at 26. Now, they can have their first pick of the group of prospects. Habs' draft expert Grant McCagg believes upwards of ten forwards could be available to the Habs at 21.

The best-case scenario would be if Cole Eiserman falls to 21. The Habs have shown interest in Eiserman, and will likely wish that everyone else passes on him. Montreal also has another option. They can use the 21st pick to trade even higher up into the first round. They have plenty of draft picks to do it, and if they want Eiserman bad enough, it'd be their best move to go and get him.

The Habs leaving the first round with two high-upside forwards would be the best-case scenario for most fans, but I look at it another way concerning the fifth overall pick. Montreal may use that fifth pick on a defenseman like Zeev Buium now that they know they can have their choice of a forward at 21.

It'd be a hard sell for me to believe they traded up to draft Dean Letourneau. The Ontario Prep player is going to Boston College next season, but there's no guarantee that his potential will work out. The Canadiens need forwards with a high ceiling but also a high floor, and there's too much bust potential for the Canadiens to risk trading up to take him.