Tij Iginla Pushes Into Top-Five on Craig Button's Pre-Draft Rankings

Tig Iginla, son of Jarome, could become a top-five pick in June's 2024 NHL Entry Draft.
Top Prospect Tij Iginla
Top Prospect Tij Iginla / Dale Preston/GettyImages

Cayden Lindstrom has been a player that Montreal Canadiens fans have set their sights on with the fifth-overall pick. However, Craig Button of TSN sees Lindstrom as the tenth-ranked prospect in the class, with Tij Iginla moving into the top five. Button has four forwards leading the front, with Macklin Celebrini being the runaway favorite for first overall.

Unlike when the Canadiens passed up Shane Wright to draft Juraj Slafkovsky, there will likely be no surprises at No.1. Ivan Demidov is No.2 on Craig's list, while Konsta Helenius moved from No.7 to No.3, and Tig Iginla moved from No.10 to No.4. The next four players on Craig's rankings are defensemen, but one or two are sure to make their way into the top five if a team views the backend as a position of need.

What Does It Mean For The Canadiens?

Quite frankly, this change in rankings could mean nothing, as Craig Button isn't in the room with the Canadiens scouts. However, when a draft expert like Button makes a declaration like this, he has been talking to someone he trusts. Lindstrom's drop to No.10 may show that he isn't on anyone's radar in the top five. If Button's forward rankings are any indication, the Canadiens may take Demidov, Helenius, or Iginla instead. 

There's reason to believe that after the Sharks take Celebrini, the three teams ahead of Montreal will take a defenseman. The Blackhawks could want another stud defenseman to add to their young core of Connor Bedard, Frank Nazar, Lukas Reichel, Alex Vlasic, and Kevin Korchinski.

The Ducks have plenty of young forward depth, but ironically, if the Canadiens end up making a trade with them for Trevor Zegras and send one of their defensemen the other way, it could change Anaheim's draft strategy.

The Blue Jackets also have a lot of forward talent, but it could depend on what the teams in front of them do. If the Blackhawks and Ducks take the defensemen they want, the Blue Jackets would likely take Demidov and try to persuade him to leave Russia.

If the draft shakes out with all three teams taking a defenseman, the Canadiens have their pick of Ivan Demidov, Tij Iginla, Konsta Helenius, and Cayden Lindstrom. The obvious choice may be Demidov due to his success in Russia, but we saw the Canadiens avoid Matvei Michkov last season for the same concerns of Russians not coming to North America.

If the Canadiens make that decision again, that leaves Helenius, Iginla, and Lindstrom. Button seems to believe that Helenius and Iginla are the better options, and he even has Cole Eiserman ranked ahead of Lindstrom. However, Eiserman's inconsistencies will make taking him at No.5 too risky.

The Canadiens have plenty of depth down the middle of the ice on their roster and in the pipeline. A natural winger like Tij Iginla may be the choice that Kent Hughes makes, and the fact that Button has placed him in the top five makes me believe that he either feels the same way or has heard that it could be true.

It's too early to tell what direction the Canadiens will go in the draft. Like the rumblings we began hearing with Slafkovsky's rise to the No.1 overall pick back in 2022, it may be time to start thinking about players like Iginla, Demidov, and Helenius instead of Lindstrom.