With the 2020 NHL Draft looming, TSN Hockey provides a draft primer for each of the seven Canadian NHL clubs. Today, we begin with the Montreal Canadiens.
No. 15 pick Cole Caufield of Wisconsin scored 19 goals in 36 games in his first college season, sharing the lead for most goals by a NCAA freshman. Montreal entered the 2019 draft targeting left defencemen and selected five among 10 overall picks – including four straight from the second through fifth rounds. First among them was Jayden Struble (No. 46); Struble played at Northeastern as an 18-year-old and had 10 points in 21 games before a lower-body injury sidelined him for the season in early February.
GRADING THE LAST 5 DRAFTS
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button gives the Canadiens an A in three of five drafts since 2015. Montreal traded away the draftee who has made the biggest impact in the NHL – Mikhail Sergachev. He was dealt to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin and has developed into a top-three defenceman on the Stanley Cup-contending Lightning.
Montreal’s selection of Wisconsin native Caufield in 2019 continued a 20-year trend: 11 of the Canadiens’ 22 first-round picks since 2000 have been from the U.S. Montreal has chosen a Canadian in the first round only twice in the last 10 drafts (Nathan Beaulieu, 2011 and Noah Juulsen, 2015).
TOP 10 PROSPECTS: GRADE A-MINUS
Button says Alexander Romanov, Caufield, Ryan Poehling and Cayden Primeau are locks to be quality NHLers and grades the overall list as A-minus, second best to Ottawa among the seven Canadian teams. At the front of the line for Montreal is the Russian Romanov, who was named to the 2020 World Jr. Championship all-star team on the blueline.
After trading a fifth-round pick to Carolina for impending UFA defenceman Joel Edmundson, Montreal has 11 picks, including No. 16 overall and three selections in the second round. The Canadiens are on track to make double-digit picks for the third straight draft. A reminder: GM Marc Bergevin has made a total of 10 trades on Day 2 of the past two drafts: six in 2018 and four in 2019.
WHO SHOULD THE CANADIENS PICK?
Button identifies Montreal’s primary need as goal-scorers. We asked: If you were picking No. 16 for Montreal, which of the following four forwards projected to be available in that range, would you pick? Dawson Mercer and Hendrix Lapierre finished in a dead heat – each receiving 41 per cent of the vote. Canadiens’ scouts are sure to be in Chicoutimi Oct. 2 and Oct. 4 when the Sagueneens open their 2020-21 regular season with home games vs. Shawinigan and Baie-Comeau, respectively.
Who should the Canadiens select with the No. 16 pick in the 2020 draft?
Mercer, an all-around force who won’t just score goals, he’ll set them up as well. If the native of Bay Roberts, Nfld., were to be drafted by Montreal, it would be the second straight year a Newfoundlander is picked No. 16, following in the skateprints of St. John’s native Alex Newhook, who was selected by Colorado.
TSN Hockey's NHL Draft Primers
Monday, Sept. 14 – Montreal Canadiens
Tuesday, Sept. 15 - Ottawa Senators