Montreal Canadiens Drafting Philosophy: Best Fit vs. Best Player Available

It's that time of year again: draft season, and the Montreal Canadiens have another high draft pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. And, of course, that means we finally have a concrete number to aim for and debate about until late June. Should the Habs shoot for the stars and nab the best player available, or look at holes in the prospect cupboard and find the player that fits in best?
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Okay, so what are the strengths of the Montreal Canadiens?

The big thing that really sticks out is the defensive core. First of all, Lane Hutson and David Reinbacher are looking like future mainstays on the backend, with Logan Mailloux even getting a shot in the NHL at the end of the season. And that is just the youngest.

Logan Mailloux, Robby Fabbri
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Kaiden Guhle is still very young at 22 years old, and is already a solid NHL defender, along with other 2002 born players with NHL experience Justin Barron and Jayden Struble. Arber Xhekaj is just a year older and has carved out a deep groove for himself on the bottom pair, and Adam Engstrom looks to make is North American debut next year.

Another strength of the Montreal Canadiens is their centre depth. Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook can play down the middle and are established NHL players, along with Jake Evans who is a great defensive bottom six anchor.

Owen Beck is quickly coming up the system and will be a solid addition to the bottom six in a few years, along with other prospects like Filip Mesar, Olivier Kapanen and Vinzenz Rohrer making strides and being listed as centres.

So the biggest hole Montreal has is scoring wingers. Behind Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky, the winger situation isn't the best. Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Michael Pezzetta are fan favourites but aren't top tier wingers, and Brendan Gallagher and Josh Anderson aren't producing great numbers and aren't getting any younger.

The biggest names in the Canadiens' system on the wing are Joshua Roy and Sean Farrell, but there are still a lot of question marks on whether they can be quality top six options.