Montreal Canadiens Gaining Steam As Possible Ivan Demidov Landing Spot At NHL Draft

Ivan Demidov could slip to No. 5 in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Will the Canadiens pass on him like Matvei Michkov last season?
SKA Hockey Club player, Ivan Demidov (11) seen in action...
SKA Hockey Club player, Ivan Demidov (11) seen in action... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Many draft experts on X are contemplating the idea of Ivan Demidov being available to the Canadiens at the fifth-overall pick. Grant McCagg reported that people in the scouting world think Artyom Levshunov is going to the Blackhawks and Anton Silayev is going to the Anaheim Ducks. That leaves plenty of options for the Blue Jackets at No. 4. The Blue Jackets took Bennett Senecke and Cayden Lindstrom out for dinner at the combine, linking them to Columbus. However, The Columbus Dispatch reports that new President of Hockey Operations Don Waddell is open to big trades, including his fourth-overall pick.

Waddell is also open to using the No. 4 overall pick on a defenseman, which could be a big one with Sam Dickinson from the London Knights still available if the draft plays out the way Grant McCagg reported. Canadiens fans hoped Ivan Demidov or Cayden Lindstrom would fall to the Habs at No. 5, but it looks more likely that they'll both be available when Kent Hughes has to make his final decision. Elite Prospects Director of Film Scouting Cam Robinson says that nearly a dozen teams have told him Demidov could have the highest potential in the class, but none feel secure in taking him in the top five.

Will the Canadiens Make The Same Decision Twice?

The Canadiens opted to take David Reinbacher last season, despite the availability of Matvei Michkov. It isn't a foregone conclusion that this was the wrong pick, as Reinbacher could be a stud on the Canadiens blueline. However, Montreal stayed away from Michkov due to the uncertainty of coming to North America. Reports emerged from Russia a couple of months ago that Michkov could be coming to Philadelphia as soon as next season, which would be a disaster for all the teams picking No. 2 to No. 6 in the 2023 Draft if he comes and looks as good as Connor Bedard.

According to Corey Pronman of The Athletic, Demidov could have more upside than Michkov. Scouts believe Demidov has a brighter future at the pro level. The idea was enhanced when he made SKA in the KHL over Michkov this past season. Demidov was eventually sent down to the Russian junior league but made the team out of training camp, while Michkov went out on loan to HC Sochi.

Demidov desires to come to North America, which wasn't true for Michkov during the 2023 Draft. Michkov had a long-term contract with SKA, scaring teams away from using a high pick on him. The Montreal Canadiens weren't the only team to miss out if Michkov does come to North America and become a star. Can the Canadiens pass on a Russian player again this year and let him slip to Utah or Ottawa? The Senators ending up with Demidov and dominating the Habs for the rest of his career could be disastrous.

Cayden Lindstrom Still The Front-Runner

The Canadiens didn't take any prospects out to dinner at last year's draft combine but returned to the ritual for 2024. It seems like the Canadiens took Tig Iginla and Cayden Lindstrom out this year, which could be a sign that they are the ones on their radar. Considering Demidov wasn't at the combine, this doesn't mean they aren't considering him for the selection. Lindstrom is still the player to look at for the Habs at No. 5, but Dan Milstein's upcoming prospect camp for Gold Star Hockey in Florida will tell us a lot about the Canadiens' thoughts on Demidov.

If the Canadiens brass go to that camp and are zeroed in on Demidov, it may be time to get used to the idea that the Habs will take the Russian this year. Will you as a Habs fan be happy with this pick, or will it just add to the questions of why they didn't take Michkov last season?