The absolute best, worst, and most intriguing picks in the Montreal Canadiens draft class

What a draft for the Montreal Canadiens, and forward-thinking fans have got to like what general manager Kent Hughes accomplished on Friday and Saturday.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7 / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

There were two teams that won the first round of the NHL Draft - the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks, and you can argue the Canadiens took the gold medal. Of course, just about everyone liked the Ivan Demidov pick, but fans had to be more than fine with Michael Hage heading to the system later in Round 1. 

Ironically, I’m not calling either one of these two the Habs best picks in the NHL Draft because it would just be too obvious. Instead, let’s talk about the absolute best value pick and what makes them so enticing for the Habs. That player was none other than Aatos Koivu, someone who I could have told you with assurance wasn’t falling to the third round and the 70th overall pick.

At least, that’s until the center with an awesome shot did fall to the Habs, and Hughes promptly picked him up. Through 38 games with TPS U20 this season, Koivu had 38 points and 18 goals, and he was easily over a point-per-game player with the U18 team. 

Koivu also has enticing size, and he will continue to fill out his frame over the next couple of seasons. And he’s one who, despite being a mid-round pick, I can honestly see becoming a regular member of the Habs sooner rather than later, or at least as far as third-round picks go. 

It wasn’t all an awesome draft for the Canadiens and Kent Hughes

Nothing against Owen Protz, but that one was an ill-timed pick, even if it didn’t occur until the fourth round. Until that point, Kent Hughes wisely went with forwards before he shifted gears and opted for a defenseman. Hey, at this point, you needed to pack the system with forwards unless you spotted a potential game-changer later on in the draft. 

Protz doesn’t have game-changing potential in my eyes, and several intriguing forwards went shortly after this pick, including one of my favorite prospects, Heikki Ruohonen. Other players I would have drafted over Protz here include Ollie Josephson and Trevor Hoskin, both of whom went before Ruohonen. 

Ben Merrill went to Montreal with the 166th overall pick, and I couldn’t have asked for a more intriguing selection from any team in the draft at that point. Merrill is already 6’4 and 194 pounds, and we can count on him to grow even more over the next few seasons. 

He showed off his scoring ability for a season at the USHS-Prep level, and Merrill will spend a season in the BCHL before he attends Harvard University in 2025-26. He may not be playing at the highest level this upcoming season, but nevertheless, he’s more than worth watching. 


(Statistics powered by Elite Prospects)