Before getting started, I would just like to extend well wishes to Claude Julien and his family. It is good to hear that so far things are trending in the right direction and let’s hope it continues that way. The Habs will continue their series against the Flyers today with Game 2 set to get under way at 3:00 pm this afternoon with Kirk Muller set to manage the bench. Without getting ahead of ourselves I want to first address a conversation I find myself having far too often with fellow Habs fans.
Montreal defeating Pittsburgh in four was certainly a surprise to many people, but it happened. As a fan I was thrilled, every time I sit down in front of my TV, I am cheering for a win. Losing so that we could get a better draft pick wass the logical move sure, but actively cheering for a loss is just something I cannot bring myself to do. Keeping my personal bias aside, did the Canadiens make a mistake by winning?
All seriousness aside, leave it to the Canadiens to fuck up losing! The concept of Alexis Lafrenière in a Habs jersey is an enticing one for sure, but I, in no way, shape or form, can or will ever condone losing. It is just not in my nature, I hate to lose and if I am being an honest, I am glad that the players on my favourite team do too. Even in a season where the team failed to meet expectations, one silver lining is the fight in the Habs players. On paper the Habs had no business winning that series but it wasn’t a math test.
For the people who answered ‘Yes’ to the question, I will level with you for one paragraph, maybe two. Coming into the 2019-20 season there was a lot of hype around the team. They missed the playoffs by one point the year before, they drafted an absolute steal and Suzuki was making the jump to the big club. Things were good in Hab-land but in fact the perfect storm was brewing; the rest, well we know how that played out. Adding a talent like Lafrenière or a top 10 talent like Holt, Raymond or Sanderson would no doubt help, and as I eluded to earlier, the smart decision would have been to lose.
The holes in the Habs roster were exposed this season, many of these issues in theory, can only be addressed at the top of the draft. Many of the consensus rankings among scouts and industry leaders have a clear drop off in talent after the top 10 which only further proves this point. This is about as far as I am willing to go entertaining the idea of losing because I can’t take this anymore. In an attempt to ease some of this frustration, let’s take a look at some of the names that Habs could potentially draft in the 16 range. And yes before you try to get on your high horse, I am hoping to write this exact article for the 23 spot in a week and a half.
The ‘If They Fall, Draft Immediately’ Category
Not that I expect either of these guys to make it to 16, but I said the same thing about Caufiled last year. For some inexplicable reason, some people have Holtz falling out of the top 10, and for the Habs specifically, hopefully where there is smoke where there’s fire. Jack Quinn has steadily climbs the ranks in the scouting world as the season progressed. The Ottawa 67’s product was a 50 goal scorer this season and would be a welcome offensive addition to the roster.
The Defenseman Category
Sanderson is more of a pipe dream at 16 but he rose up the rankings very quickly. It is not completely unreasonable to think that may cool down leading up to the draft. Guhle and Schneider are realistic targets, Guhle has some Jeff Petry likeness to his game, he is a big bodied (6’2), deceptively fast defenseman with offensive upside. Schneider, a Right Handed defenseman is better with the puck and is the same height as Guhle but he has developed more physically, weighing in at over 200 pounds already. Finally, Valleyfield native, Jérémie Poirier is a local product that would be a considerable reach at 16 depending who you talk to. Poirier put up 20 goals and 53 points for the Sea Dogs in the QMJHL and is projected to go in the back end of the first round, but if the Habs are set on taking a defenseman, he checks off all the boxes.
Lundell could possibly fall under the first category with Holtz and Quinn, personally I think this is more his range, but most certainly has the potential to be one of the top offensive players in this draft. Jarvis had a monstrous second half of the season in Portland finishing second in points in the WHL, just a hair shy of 100 points. He is a right handed centerman that would add offensive element that Habs desperately lack. Another right handed Centerman is Dawson Mercer who is a bit of wild card amongst scouts. Mercer has excellent offensive skill but his ceiling seems to be capped by some scouts, to me he just understands that hockey is a full 200 foot game.
Holloway is a name I personally like a lot, the Wisconsin freshman played parts of his season alongside Habs prospect Cole Caufiled. He lacks the offensive upside of some of the names on this list, but I think he has all the tools to be a more offensively gifted Boone Jenner and I like that he is a NCAA guy because he will have a couple years to develop into his body. Zary probably has to most raw, natural skill on this list, he too has a large draft variance. He pushes the pace of play and can create scoring opportunities for not only himself but his teammates around him. Amirov bounced around between the pros and junior in the KHL, but really broke through with Tolpar Ufa (MHL), putting up 22 points in 17 games. While he is insanely skilled with the puck, his skating is more above average and he has some decent physicality.
I will acknowledge the inherent risk associated with this pick, but I think that if the Habs were to draft at 16, it would be back to back seasons with a steal in the first round! The former first overall pick in the Q, Lapierre’s season and junior career as a whole has been derailed by injuries; specifically head aches and what was thought to be concussion issues. Now that the cause (neck injury) has been identified and he can properly rehab himself, the hope is the sky is the limit for this immensely talented player.
In my opinion the Habs have an opportunity to steal a top 10 talent at the 16 spot who just happens to be able to speak French. In a few years time I may have to retract this statement, but the Habs could walk away from the draft with the French speaking all-star this fan base has coveted for years!
This was essentially a long exercise to appease a small group of babies. The Canadiens are in the playoffs, who cares about the draft! The name of the game of hockey is to win the Stanley Cup. It is Stanley Cup or bust every season! Yes that is a generalized statement ignoring a lot of factors but who cares, I want a team of winners. I love that the nucleus of the Habs roster refused to lose, they looked the Pens in the face and basically told them, you want it, come and earn it. This is the fight you want to see in your favourite team, this is the fight you want every player on the roster to have because this is the attitude that wins Stanley Cups.
Let’s go Carey!
Let’s go Shea!
Let’s go Domi, Gally, Suzukes, KK, Tuna, Danault, Breakaway, Drouin, Army, Lehky, Weise, Belzile, Petry, Chiarot, Mete, Kulak and Ouellet!
LET’S GO BOYS GET THAT W IN GAME 2!
Do it for Claude.