After a disastrous season on the ice, tonight marks the first time in a while that Montreal Canadiens fans have something to look forward to.
Picking third overall, the Habs have a chance to turn around the franchise. This is their opportunity to select a player that will be truly special and someone the team can build around for the next 10 years.
Will they end up with a Jonathan Toews or a Kyle Turris? It’s the kind of pick that if you miss, it could set the franchise back.
But should the Habs be happy with the third overall pick? Are there any trades they should be looking at? Should they take a chance and put together an offer for Rick Nash?
The short answers are no, yes and not a chance.
But in reality, there’s two things the Habs should do tonight to improve the franchise.
#1 Make an offer for the first overall pick.
I don’t think the Edmonton Oilers want to fall far down the draft. Unless they get a superstar in return, there’s no way the Oilers are losing their pick and then waiting until the teens or so to choose a player. In fact, I think anything below pick #6, and the Oilers say no thanks.
So that only leaves a few teams. Montreal needs Nail Yakupov more than they need a “big” centre (by the way, I’m getting tired of people saying the Habs need a big centre. I would easily take a smaller player who is great than a good big centre who never uses his size. Think Renee Bourque, and ask if the Habs got better because they got bigger with him in the lineup). They need a guy who can score, and someone who can excite the crowd. That’s Yakupov.
The offer? It all depends on what Edmonton is looking for, obviously. But I would be very comfortable with offering the third overall pick, either a second round next year or any prospect, and any roster player without the last name Price, Subban, Gorges or Pacioretty. Depending on the roster player, we may need to get someone back for a salary dump purpose, but I’m fine with that as well.
That gives us the superstar we need right off the bat. And I’m not sure what else Montreal can throw in the deal to make it better. Maybe another second rounder next year? A smaller-name prospect? Then it becomes a bit too much.
#2 Depending on what happens, make a pitch for a mid-round pick.
And this relies on a very big “what if…”
Right now, many mock drafts have Mikhail Grigorenko dropping to the mid-first round. TSN had him at #17, whereas Sportsnet has him at #10. Some others still have him high in the draft. And many more still have Montreal taking him at #3. So it will be hard to say what happens when it comes to Grigorenko.
Personally, I can’t see the Toronto Maple Leafs passing on him at #5, as they need a #1 centre as well.
But just say Montreal takes either Yakupov first overall or Alex Galchenyuk at #3. And then Grigorenko starts dropping. Once he hits pick #10, the Habs need to put together a package for that pick. They offer it to the Tampa Bay Lightning. If they say no and choose someone else, then the Habs make the same offer to the next team, Washington at #11. If they say no and choose another player, then the Habs make an offer to the next team.
And so on and so forth, until either someone accepts the deal, or Grigorenko is drafted. The best bet would be with the Capitals, as they have a pick at #11 and #16, plus multiple later picks.
So what could be a fair offer? This one is tougher to gauge because each team is different. I would be willing to give both second round picks, and either a roster player not named Price, Subban, Gorges or Pacioretty, or any prospect not named Jarred Tinordi or Nathan Beaulieu.
Tampa, for example, might choose a good forward on the current roster. Buffalo might want a defenceman. Dallas might want a prospect. I have no idea about what the needs are of many of these teams.
I just know the Habs need to attempt something. The management can’t be happy with current roster after what has happened the past two seasons.
Grigorenko was ranked #2 in most scouting reports until the last couple of months. It’s starting to remind me of Sean Couturier last year. He was a top-ranked prospect (was projected to be the first overall pick a year before the draft), and then started dropping. He ended up being taken by Philadelphia at the 8th spot.
So if the Habs can get him later on, they need to try and make the move to do so.
Imagine coming out of the draft with Grigorenko and either Yakupov or Galchenyuk. That would be dynamite, and would be a great first step to bringing the Habs back to its glory days.
They may not be able to make anything work, but they need to try. That’s all we can ask for.
And hopefully, something will come to fruition.