Montreal Canadiens fans went through a roller coaster of emotions over the last calendar year. From a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final, then onto the worst statistical winning percentage in the franchise’s 113-year history, fans wanted to see the Habs win something that could help the team in the long run. For the first time since its inception, the Canadiens have won the NHL Entry Draft lottery, which also marks only the sixth time since the entry draft began in 1963 that Montreal would have the first pick. 

This has led some pundits and fans online to ask if they should trade the pick for immediate help or to bring in a young star prospect that has slightly more development time.


Should Canadiens Trade the First Overall

The question is, should the Canadiens trade the first-overall pick. Kent Hughes has stated he is open to listening to offers for the pick, so the answer to the question isn’t an outright no, as any asset could be traded for the right return. However, what would make it worthwhile for the organization to trade away their best trade position held in decades? 

The last time the Canadiens picked first was in the 1980 Draft when they selected Doug Wickenheiser, a 6-foot-1 center that just completed an 89-goal, 170-point campaign with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. To this day, there are many second-guessing that pick as that was the year a young phenom by the name of Denis Savard with the Montreal Juniors had a 181-point season. But looking back, it’s understandable why Wickenheiser was seen as a top prospect.

There have been some media, such as Rejean Tremblay on Québec radio, musing that the Canadiens should trade the pick outright to the New York Rangers for winger Alexis Lafrenière. While it is attractive to bring in a skilled winger that has two years of development time over anyone available in this draft who is also from Québec, others have talked about the possibility of trading down. Something the former general manager (GM) Marc Bergevin did often.

In the end, trading the pick is more likely to be a mistake as the likelihood the player selected at first overall becomes more impactful than whoever it is traded for is very high. Is Lafrenière truly an improvement over the consensus top pick, Shane Wright? Not at all, Wright and Lafrenière have similar size and similar offensive production in junior. However, Wright is a center and is seen as having a more mature defensive game at the same stage of development.