Montreal Canadiens: Pondering Expectations For Canadiens 2024 First Round Selection

New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens are nearly halfway through their 2023-24 schedule, so draft positioning is still a question mark. 

Martin St. Louis’s troops are much closer to a playoff spot than the basement of the Atlantic division. Consistent goaltending from Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau, to some extent, is a large reason why. Kent Hughes will be fielding a ton of offers, but the next month will prove to be the ultimate decision-maker

With teams looking to load up on rental players for a deep Stanley Cup playoff run, the Habs' assets could prove valuable. Hypothetically, if the team stumbles into the trade deadline, then Hughes should be open for business. It’s unlikely the team will stop fighting, but at some point, the value of Monahan, Matheson and Savard needs to be given consideration. 

The rebuild’s success is reliant on a couple of key pillar decisions. Somewhere near the top with the starting goalie, number one centre and defenseman are high draft picks. As seen in the past two drafts, Juraj Slafkovsky and David Reinbacher have massive expectations, with reason.

Montreal’s 2024 first round pick will be more of the same and here’s why.

Habs ‘24 First Round Selection

While the past two years have been crucial building blocks in the Hughes-Jeff Gorton rebuild, the club’s expectations have increased. Standings often tell the story best and that is exactly the case for the Habs. Montreal isn’t going to stop competing and despite what the professionals think, they aren’t far off from being a playoff team. 

Many believe the team is just a couple of pieces away from having the makings of a contender. Health will be the most important and player development entwined with it. But picking an impact player in the first 30 picks can alter a franchise’s fortunes. 

Slafkovsky, Cole Caufield and Kaiden Guhle all have their play viewed under a microscope. Reinbacher will be the same, too, and Filip Mesar faced criticism during his rookie season with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. So you can bet that as the roster starts to take shape, the importance of the next handful of picks increases significantly.

But none will hold more importance than the first one. A quick thought about the first pick, “Is it possible that the Canadiens don’t currently have their highest 2024 draft selection in their repertoire yet?” Hmm, I wonder - if acquired via trade; the value could send shockwaves down St. Catherine Street. 

With some quality prospects available in the upcoming draft, there are certainly a few intriguing options. I feel that after Macklin Celebrini - you can hand-pick exactly what the team needs. In Montreal’s case, the team needs another top-of-the-lineup goal-scoring talent - thankfully they’ll have no trouble finding that. 

Then said player can practice shooting with Caufield and Slafkovsky. It's already a team that feels close and cohesively they are all on the same page. Another player or two, added to the current mix of youth coming up, and the Habs aren't looking too shabby.