Why the Montreal Canadiens landed the grand prize in the 2024 NHL Draft

Move over, Macklin Celebrini, but the Montreal Canadiens landed the grand prize in the 2024 NHL Draft, and there’s no argument about it.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

No, the grand prize in the 2024 NHL Draft was not Macklin Celebrini, not with Ivan Demidov heading to an organization that is in front of the San Jose Sharks from a development standpoint. Heading into the 2024 NHL Draft, I was certain Demidov would be long gone, not falling past the Anaheim Ducks and definitely not falling past the Columbus Blue Jackets. But I was wrong, as he, somehow, made it to the Montreal Canadiens, and Kent Hughes probably put little thought into this pick. 

Nor would I. As there was no one else, not when you have perhaps the final piece to what will now be an outstanding top-six. Now, you got Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Alex Newhook, and, once he’s eventually with the big club in Quebec, Ivan Demidov

No, he won’t be in Quebec immediately, but who cares? This was supposed to be a slow build anyway, and Demidov will benefit from a top-six that is only going to be better once he’s in town, meaning there should be a much, much smaller learning curve for the winger. 

Canadiens landed the grand prize in the 2024 NHL Draft

Just because I’m saying Demidov, and not Celebrini, is the grand prize here, it doesn’t mean I feel the former is the better player. Celebrini is someone who will be a catalyst in returning the San Jose Sharks to relevancy, and I can’t stress that enough. But instead, it’s the situation Demidov will be walking into. 

He’s an incredible hockey player heading to an organization full of players at forward and on the blue line who are outstanding players and who will evolve into remarkable NHLers, if they haven’t already done so - I’m talking about you two, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. 

Kent Hughes has done nothing but get it right with his previous top picks, or at least we can say that in hindsight. Now we can say, even in foresight, that the Canadiens landed one outstanding future NHLer who will be joining a team that will be that much closer to playoff contention.