Montreal Canadiens: L'Affaire Kotkaniemi-Dvorak - What If The Habs Kept The Picks?

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits
2018 NHL Draft - Portraits / Tom Pennington/GettyImages
2 of 3


When the acquisition was made, Dvorak had four 15-goal seasons under his belt and was coming off his most productive year in the desert, a career-best 17 goals in 56 games. The hope was that he could continue to blossom, and as a second-line pivot behind Nick Suzuki, 20 goals a year would be a foregone conclusion.

However, with just 22 goals in 135 games in bleu-blanc-rouge, the deal has not been according to plan. Dvorak has very little value on the ice or as a trade asset right now, and it sure seems like the team would have been better off keeping the picks.

The compensatory first-rounder for Kotkaniemi became the 27th overall pick in 2022. The Coyotes ultimately moved that pick, along with the 34th and 45th overall selections, to the San Jose Sharks to move up to number 11 and choose Conor Geekie.

It stands to reason the Canadiens could have used the extra draft capital to make a similar move up the board. New general manager Kent Hughes had already made a splash that night in front of his hometown fans at the Bell Centre when they acquired Kirby Dach and selected Juraj Slafkovsky.

The Sharks eventually used Carolina’s pick to take Swedish center Filip Bystedt at 27, one spot after the Canadiens chose Filip Mesar at 26. Montreal also had the 33rd pick that year, where they opted to select Owen Beck.

Other notables that were still available in that range include Jiri Kulich, Maveric Lamoureux and Brad Lambert. So, the Habs could also have added another solid prospect to their stable had they decided to stand pat.

The Canadiens did use the third-rounder they received from the Hurricanes to select Adam Engstrom with the 92nd overall pick. By all accounts, the steady Swedish defenseman has all the tools to be an excellent contributor to an NHL blue line sooner than later.

So, theoretically, the Canadiens could have Kulich instead of Dvorak and Geekie instead of Mesar and Beck. Then again, they may not have had the opportunity to get the steal of the draft Lane Hutson at 62 had they included that pick in a hypothetical package to move up. That’s the problem when you deal in the fantasy world. There are too many what-ifs and variables.