It’s not Cayden Lindstrom that the CH must draft

It’s not Cayden Lindstrom that the CH must draft
It’s not Cayden Lindstrom that the CH must draft

Last night the losers’ playoffs took place, the famous lottery for the next draft. The Canadian did not break the bank, he, as is often the case during the season, received a moral victory. With a 44% chance of ranking sixth, Montreal will ultimately speak fifth… yay!

Unsurprisingly, the San Jose Sharks will speak first, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

I wrote last night that the result of the lottery left me rather cold… with this fifth choice, Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton have no real choice but to let the first four speak and pick up the one who will be according to them the best hope in fifth place.

Is Hughes “bluffing” when he says he prefers to take the best player available regardless of his position rather than drafting according to his needs? If he’s telling the truth, the GM could again fall back on a defender at the fifth level… but just mentioning it makes me nauseous. I refuse to believe that the Canadian will do such a thing…

If we agree that the two best attackers, Macklin Celebrini and Ivan Demidov, will have disappeared from the lists at the fifth level, this leaves us with only two defenders claimed by the time the CH takes the stage: Artyom Levshunov and Anton Silayev should have found a buyer.

The Blackhawks should logically fall back on a defender. Their need is greater on the blue line than on offense, but the temptation to transplant a Demidov to Connor Bedard is certainly very strong too.

The Ducks are very well endowed with prospects on the blue line. With the prospect of liquidating Trevor Zegras via trade, I can’t see the Ducks not asking for a forward.

The Blue Jackets are also full of good prospects at all positions. The inner logic that they draft the best player available at their selection rank.

In other words, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the four players mentioned above are the top four prospects claimed.

Which will leave CH with interesting options at the fifth level. If we agree together to pray hard to the hockey gods that CH does not draft another defender, which attacker becomes the best option at the fifth level overall?

The choice will be between Medicine Hat giant center Cayden Lindstrom, USHL winger Trevor Connolly, Spokane center Berkly Catton, Finnish center Konsta Helenius and natural winger Tij Iginla from Kelowna. Lindstrom would be a logical choice, but in my opinion, he does not fit the profile sought by the Canadiens’ decision-makers, who want players with a high level hockey IQ. This is not really the case for Lindstrom, who compensates with power and dog.

I think that at this point, the CH will be looking for a potential top 6 winger with respectable hands and physique. A guy who wants the puck and knows there is a price to get it. A guy who has a talent, who knows tobacco, who knows how to go about ensuring that his team achieves success and that he contributes to it, because he has been taught that for a long time.

The name Iginla becomes magical for me in this sense. And as much as I would have been nervous to see CH slip to seventh, fearing that Iginla would no longer be available at this rank, I am very nervous, because obviously, it will still be possible to claim the author of 47 goals in 64 games this season in Kelowna, but other much higher-ranked prospects, notably Lindstrom, will also be available.

The firm Gorton & Hughes & associates has accustomed us to playing buttocks, to measuring the risk in order to reduce it to its minimum. Will they surprise us by admitting their love and ambitions for Iginla as early as fifth or will they fall back on the highest ranked player at that rank?

In 2022, they surprised by selecting Juraj Slafkovsky first overall. Slaf didn’t appear first on many reference lists…

Will the CH be tempted to compromise to move back a few ranks and still claim Iginla? Not impossible, but the risk of seeing it disappear will increase, since since Christmas, it has continued to climb in the rankings.

Will the Canadian be tempted to outright trade this fifth overall pick for an established prospect aged 20 to 23? Do the CH like Trevor Zegras enough to pay this fifth overall pick in exchange for the services of the American hope, friend of Cole Caufield?

I refuse to believe that and, honestly, I would rather see Iginla develop in the organization than see Zegras in the streets of Montreal develop great relationships…

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