Winners of 24 games during the NHL’s Covid-19 shortened season, the Montreal Canadiens finished in fourth place in the North Division. One of the stories of the playoffs, the team ultimately advanced to the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Making nine selections during the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the franchise added an extra second-round selection. Sending back center Jack Finley, general manager Marc Bergevin also acquired a 2021 fourth-round selection to round out the deal.
Making a move before the league’s trade deadline, the Canadiens landed veteran forward Eric Staal in exchange for picks 95 and 159. Along with this, the team remained active throughout the weekend. Choosing to move back into the fifth round, they acquired picks 150 and 214 from the Minnesota Wild while sending back choice 127 as compensation.
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Logan Mailloux, D, London Knights-OHL (Round 1, Pick 31)
Riley Kidney, C, Acadie Bathurst Titan-QMJHL (Round 2, Pick 63)
Oliver Kapanen, C, Kalpa-Finland Jr. (Round 2, Pick 64)
Dmitri Kostenko, D, Tolyatti Lada-Rus-VL (Round 3, Pick 87)
William Trudeau, D, Charlottetown Islanders-QMJHL (Round 4, Pick 113)
Daniil Sobolev, D, Spartak-Russia-2 (Round 5, Pick 142)
Joshua Roy, RW, Sherbrooke Phoenix-QMJHL (Round 5, Pick 150)
Xavier Simoneau, C, Drummondville Voltigeurs-QMJHL (Round 6, Pick 191)
Joe Vrbetic, G, North Bay Battalion-OHL (Round 7, Pick 214)
Opting to select Mailloux with their first selection at the end of round one, the 18-year-old defenseman spent his 2020 campaign with SK Lejon in the HockeyEttan league in Sweeden. Appearing in 19 games, the Belle River, Ontario native racked up seven goals and eight assists. Spending their following two selections on centers, both Kidney and Kapanen had strong seasons a year ago.
Helping lead Acadie Bathurst to the second seed in the playoffs, the former posted 13 goals and 25 assists in 38 games while adding in 17 points in the playoffs. Rounding out their draft haul, Simoneau spent the last two seasons as the captain for the Drummondville Voltigeurs. At the same time, Vrbetic offers the franchise a developmental goalie prospect in the seventh round after missing last season, following the OHL’s failure to get going due to Covid-19.
Best Pick: Oliver Kapanen
Known for his high-end goal-scoring ability, Kapanen is the nephew of former NHL player Sami Kapanen and the cousin of current NHL player Kasperi Kapanen. Averaging over a point per game with Kalpa U20 in the U20 SM-Sarja league in Finland, the 18-year-old center amassed 25 goals and 16 assists in 41 games with the team before being loaned to JoKP. Possessing a quick and decisive release, he can fool opposing netminders with ease.
Along with this, the Finland native is also able to find the open areas of ice inside the offensive zone to put himself into good scoring situations. Maintaining an underrated two-way game, Kapanen uses his high-end awareness and hockey IQ in his own zone to always stay on the defensive side of the puck to make life difficult on opposing forwards. Furthermore, he is also able to break up plays in his own end and help quickly transition the puck up ice. This should make him an effective two-way center at the pro level with continued development to his game.
Worst Pick: Logan Mailloux
The most shocking pick of the entire weekend, Mailloux, was charged and fined in Sweden last year after sharing a picture of himself and a young woman engaging in a sexual act. Releasing a statement, he asked teams not to select him during the draft due to his inability to display the proper character and maturity to play in the NHL.
Possessing the size and frame to play pro hockey, he uses his 6’3″ 214 lb frame to play physically on the boards and in front of the net. Along with this, he can use his powerful stride and speed to jump up into the rush as an offensive threat. While he has the ceiling to play top-four minutes for the Canadiens one day down the road, Mailloux has failed to show he deserves a second chance after off-ice issues.
Sleeper Pick: Dmitri Kostenko
One of the oldest players in the entire 2021 class, Kostenko was once ranked as high as 17th on NHL Central Scouting amongst European skaters. One of the most offensively gifted defensemen eligible for the draft; he can quickly transition the puck up ice while also being able to jump up into the rush to create scoring chances. Furthermore, the Togliatti Russian native can also use his speed to pull away from opposing players.
Needing to keep upgrading on the right side of the blue line, the Canadiens recently announced that captain Shea Weber is unlikely to play hockey again due to multiple injuries. In addition to this, the group also lost Jonathon Merrill after he inked a one-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. Needing to show a compete level shift in and shift out, if Kostenko can clean up his game in the defensive zone, this could be one of the best value picks of the draft in the third round.
Catching fire in the playoffs after limping into the postseason as the fourth and final seed in the North Division, Montreal dispatched of the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights. Seeing their run to the cup fall short after losing to Tampa Bay in five games, the group heads into 2021 with one of the deeper rosters across the league. Adding to their young talent pool that already features names like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and, Alexander Romanov, Kidney offers skating and playmaking abilities to be an impact player at the NHL level.
Along with this, both Trudeau and Kostenko offer high-end goal-scoring skills, while Kapanen has a well-built two-way game. Shaping up to be an impact class for Bergevin and the team’s front office, if Mailloux can clean up his act off the ice and prove he is worthy of a second chance, look for the Canadiens to continue to have one of the best young talent pools. This will make them one of the top five teams in the Atlantic Division.
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