What We Could Have Gotten Will Leave You Shocked
When you think about the Montreal Canadiens’ recent drafts, you think of home runs. Take for example Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle, Jesse Ylonen, and Mikhail Sergachev. Besides these names, the Canadiens have been bereft of star power through the draft. We’ve had two picks within the top-five of the draft within the last 10 years, and both have not panned out as expected.
So, in saying that, I will focus primarily on the different paths the Canadiens could have taken regarding their last 10 first-round draft picks. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
2012 – #3 Overall – Filip Forsberg
As we can all remember, the Canadiens original pick in this draft was none other than Alex Galchenyuk. There were high hopes that Glachenyuk would finally become the number one center Montreal was lacking, and for some time, it looked like he would be. Galchenyuk’s tenure was definitely fruitful, as he produced five seasons with 30+ points. In his best season, he put up 30 goals and 56 points, and it seemed that Galchenyuk was finally finding his footing in the NHL.
Still, it seemed he didn’t have what it took to occupy the center position for an extended period of time (even though I thought he could) and after two more seasons in Montreal, Galchenyuk was subsequently shipped out during the 2018 offseason to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Max Domi.
With such a great pick in the draft, it was a shame Galchenyuk never panned out the way we hoped, but it hurts, even more, knowing we could have had one of the most lethal wingers in the game today; Filip Forsberg. Forsberg was taken 11th overall by the Washington Capitals but has done most of his damage with the Nashville Predators.
Throughout his career, Forsberg has put up outstanding numbers, potting home 385 points over 497 regular-season games. It’s crazy to think that he is still only 26, and has accomplished so much. In the playoffs, Forsberg proves his worth even more, as he has put up 52 points in 71 games. Not too shabby for someone in their mid-20’s.
I understand the reasoning behind the Canadiens pursuing Galchenyuk back then, as they were looking for a number one center, but could you imagine a lineup with Filip Forsberg on the wing? I surely can!
2013 – #25 Overall – Shea Theodore
This one hurts me the most. Originally, the Canadiens had selected Michael McCarron with their first-round pick. McCarron is a big-bodied, physical winger, who’s size can easily intimidate opponent’s on the ice. Sadly, he never panned out in Montreal, as he spent most of his time with their AHL affiliates.
You may be wondering as to who was picked right after McCarron at the number 26 spot. You may be familiar with him already, as he has steadily become a marquee defenseman for the Vegas Golden Knights (in my opinion their best defenseman) and the shining example of how a two-way defenseman should play; Shea Theodore.
Compared to McCarron, Theodore has enjoyed a much more illustrious NHL career. This past season was his absolute best as he put up an astounding 42 points in 53 games, as well having a plus/minus rating of +28. Ridiculous. McCarron on the other hand hasn’t had a season with more than five points.
The drafting of Theodore would have provided the Canadiens at the time the perfect defenseman to develop, as they had veterans such as Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin to help with that. I think if the Canadiens had made this pick their past seasons would have looked a lot different.
2014 – #26 Overall – A Trio of Goalies
Similar to the 2013 draft, the Canadiens opted to go ahead and draft a flashy Russian who had a lot of skill and showed promise. Similar to Alex Galchenyuk, Nikita Scherbak didn’t pan out, as he too spent most of his playing time in the AHL, and was never really able to flourish with the Canadiens. I say that this is because of the way the Canadiens develop their players, but who am I to say?
With Scherbak not working out, it seems the Canadiens missed out on a slew of goalies who could have been the successors to Carey Price‘s starting goalie throne. The names read as such; Thatcher Demko, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Vitek Vanecek. All three have made their stride in the past couple of years, which would have been perfect timing for the Canadiens seeing as Price is entering his mid-30’s.
Any one of these picks would have been great, and even if they didn’t end up taking over the net from Price, they could have been used as great trade bait.
2015 – #26 Overall – Sebastian Aho
You read that right. THE SEBASTIAN AHO. The Sebastian Aho that the Canadiens offer-sheeted a couple of years ago. That Sebastian Aho who has put up 320 points in 366 regular-season games. The Sebastian Aho that has quickly become the number-one center of the Carolina Hurricanes.
I’m not trying to demean Noah Juulsen here, as I think he is a great player and would have served the Canadiens well had they kept him, but Sebastian Aho is just something else. The worst part about this was that he was picked all the way in the second round, as the Hurricanes used their 35th overall pick to steal him.
If, and that’s a big “if”, the Canadiens had drafted him we could have had our number one center of the future. However writing those words I am not entirely sure, as Canadiens player development has known to lead some players astray. Who knows, all I know is this line-up would have looked a lot better with Aho in it.
2016 – #9 Overall – Mikhail Sergachev
Yes, I wouldn’t have changed the drafting made during the 2016 NHL draft. What I would have changed was him being traded to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin, who has been underwhelming, to say the least. If we hadn’t traded Sergachev I am sure he could have formed a dynamic duo with either Shea Weber or created a lethal Russian pairing with fellow country-man Alexander Romanov.
Sergachev has thrived with the Tampa Bay Lightning, quickly becoming one of their “go-to” defensemen, as well as procuring two Stanley Cup rings the past two seasons. Compared to what Jonathan Drouin has done (who I know is a good player but needs out of Montreal), it’s safe to say we would have been better off keeping the young Russian. Well, shoulda-coulda-woulda!
2017 – #25 Overall – Maxime Comtois
Although I have absolutely no problem with the original draft pick Ryan Poehling, I do believe Max Comtois would have been a much better option. The Longueuil, Quebec native checked off all the boxes; he could skate, he was physical, he was gritty, he could score, and most importantly (at least to French-Canadian Habs fans), he was French-Canadian!
Compare to Poehling, Comtois has enjoyed a better career up to this date, as he has carved out a nice role on the Ducks top-two lines as a physical winger who has a knack around the net, as well as superb playmaking vision. Thinking about it now, Comtois would have been the perfect complement to a line centered by Nick Suzuki. Too bad it’s just a dream.
One that Max says “Thank You” I am thinking he might like to play for the Habs some day. Editors Note: if any one could shine in the fishbowl that is Montreal it is Comtois. He is down to earth and a better skater than he is given credit for. But when it comes to stopping puck, he is a much better passer and shooter.
2018 – #3 Overall – Quinn Hughes
Quinn Hughes has quickly become one of the best defensemen on a mediocre Vancouver Canucks team. In 129 games, the young 21-year-old defenseman has managed to put up 97 points. Not too shabby. There could be arguments made that he is not defensively sound, seeing as he had a -24 rating last season, but you must also take into account the team he is playing for, which was in the top-10 for goals allowed last season.
Although Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a great player, in my opinion, he still hasn’t proven that he deserves to be a top-three pick. The two players picked ahead of him (Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov) both have more points, as they have put up 107 and 140 points, respectively. Even the player picked immediately after Kotkaniemi, Brady Tkachuk has registered 125 points in his young NHL career so far. How many points does Kotkaniemi have to show for? 62. Enough said.
Again, this may be just another case of Canadiens player development messing up a young prospect’s confidence, which we have seen ample times in the past, but the numbers don’t lie, and Kotkaniemi has just not lived up to his third overall pick status. Having Quinn Hughes on our defensive roster would have provided some scoring, which the Canadiens desperately need.
2019 – #15 Overall – Cole Caufield
I wouldn’t do anything differently. Cole Caufield is going to be a star for this team for years to come and this was an absolute home run of a pick from Canadiens management.
2020 – #16 Overall – Kaiden Guhle
It’s way too early to tell whether the 2020 NHL draft picks are going to pan out or not, but Guhle has shown some steady promise, and it looks as if he will become a central figure on the Canadiens blue-line for the years to come. The former Prince Albert Raider is quoted as being a “menace when he’s on the ice”, particularly because of his speed and tenacity. Some other strengths include his vision and skating.
Guhle looks like he could be just another piece of the Canadiens defensive puzzle, as they have lost young key defensive names such as Victor Mete and Cale Fleury over the past season. Hopefully, the Canadiens don’t revert back to old habits and end up trading Guhle for a winger.
2021 – #31 Overall – Logan Mailloux
There was a heap of controversy regarding this pick, and I can understand why. I am not going to get into that aspect of the pick, as I will only look at this from a hockey perspective. When it comes down to it, Mailloux can play. He’s a big, physical defenseman who can skate with the best of them, and has a blistering shot that can easily evade goalies.
He reminds me a lot of Shea Weber, as well as Chris Pronger. If he turns out to be anywhere near their level, which I believe he could be, then the Canadiens have a great player on their hands. Could you imagine the future of the Habs D-corps, with names such as Romanov, Guhle, Mattias Norlinder, and Mailloux? That sounds like one of the best future line-ups in the NHL, yes indeed!
And there we have it, a complete re-draft of the Canadiens last 10 first-round picks. What would you have done differently? Let me know in the comments below!
Dropping the Mike on ya!