Canadians can speed up the rebuilding by moving late in the first round

Canadians can speed up the rebuilding by moving late in the first round

Montreal Canadiens not only had the first overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft but the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick as well. This pick would be 25th overall or beyond, depending on the success of the Flames match.

Debate rages on whether or not they should pick Shane Wright, but an overlooked asset is the first-round pick at a later date. There will likely be many players who are highly rated on several draft boards that will slide to the bottom of the draft rankings. With 37 picks over the last three entry drafts, and now with 14 picks in 2022, General Manager (GM) Kent Hughes has the assets to trade for a prospect that ranks high on their list.

Related: Montreal Canadiens should trade first all-round pick

This might sound like a foreign concept to those who follow the Canadians, as they haven’t made a deal to move up in the first round since 2010 when they traded to pick Jared Tenordi. The question to ask this year is, would it be worthwhile to do so, and what needs can this player fill?

Canadians can exchange skill

The Canadians haven’t had two options in the first round since 2007 when they picked Ryan McDonagh 12th and Max Paciotti 22nd. They also used a second-round selection of an unknown Norris Award-winning defensive man named PK Suban. This year, GM Kent Hughes has similar draft assets that could make 2022 as impactful as the 2007 draft.

Hughes’ vision for Canadians includes speed and skill.

“In an ideal world, we would be an attack-minded team, I imagine a team that plays fast and plays fast with the puck is the possession hockey team. But I also understand that you have to build a team around your players and that will be part of the process as we go forward. We will create a modern organization that the players will want to be a part of it.” – Kent Hughes

With that in mind, this season is the perfect trading time to add a player who fits this hockey style. With rebuilding in full swing, rather than adding quantity, it can be speeded up by adding quality.

Noah Ostlund, C

Noah Ostlund is the smallest 5-foot-11, 165-pound Centerman from Sweden. He’s been rising in the draft ratings all season, ascending to number 18 in Peter Baracini’s latest rankings hockey book. Ostlund’s performance at the 2022 FIFA U-18 World Championships where he scored 10 points in six matches, including four goals while playing as a central midfield for Sweden, is likely to boost him in the middle of the late first round.

Another great clip by Noah Östlund to check out. Great job on the front check. Stay allied with the attacker when the attacker spins and end up stealing the disc. At the end of the clip, you see him complete a medium-dangerous distant target. # 2022NHLDraft https://t.co/BDe6r4qDZP

His hockey IQ and ability to play at full speed are the traits that will attract Hughes to trade in his favour.

“The first thing that distinguishes Ostlund is his high skating ability and the speed with which he plays the game. He is a technically sound skater who can split an opponent as a puck-bearer, pass checks in transitions and chop in and out of off-course traffic. Ostlund has great hands and is able to organize pass receptions Quick in slick pedals he puts on top of his nimble stride in skateboarding, giving him an explosive element to his game.” – Nick Richard, Horizons Dobber

The downside is that Östlund is not expected to become a top position, and with the depth in this position that Habs are beginning to gain, it may not matter. A skill on the wing is needed in the potential pipeline for Canadians, and his sophisticated playmaking skills might make him a top six weapon. Also, since it is a natural center, it can provide the franchise with another flexible striker that provides lineup options for its coaches.

Luca Del Bell Bellows, C

Luca Del Bel Belluz is another potential center that fits the new philosophy of Canadians. He’s aggressively talented, but not without flaws, which is why he could be near a first-round pick from Habs, but it’s worth the trade to get it too.

#2222NHLD Qualified Luca Del Bel Belluz did it this way last night – two quick hands to move the disc under the defenders stick while making a quick stop and going to shake the aggressive defender. – Then a big acknowledgment of his goal to notice the height of the short open side. https://t.co/1lclIxX7U8

At 6 feet 1 and 176 pounds, Del Bel Belluz is just the size Canadians need. He needs to add strength to his chassis as well as improve his first step, but what the young striker does very well is to use his size and excellent control skills in play. This in turn allows him to enter the area with control, a style similar to that of the former Canadian winger, Tyler Toffoli.

Like Östlund, Del Bel Belluz would be better suited to playing as a winger in the Canadiens system. Moving to the wing will ease the defensive burden he will need to take if he stays in the center, and mitigate any skating issues. Also, with his shot, he could eventually blossom into a secondary scoring role. It would be beneficial for Canadians to move up to five to seven positions to add a potential second-line sniper like him.

Bonus: Canadian 33rd overall pick

The Canadians also own the first pick from the second round. This pick could be a very interesting option for Hobbs and his staff, as it will likely add a first-round talent that got knocked out in the first round for some reason. One player who could slip there is Russian winger Ivan Mirosnichenko.

Ivan Miroshchenko
Nikolai Bochkov Memorial Championships. Avangard (Omsk) – Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod). @ Ivan Miroshnichenko (photo credit: photo.khl.ru)

Prior to this season, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound winger was touted as a Top 10 Player of the Year. Miroshnichenko fits with Hughes’ vision of a skilled and offensive brand of hockey because he has elite skating ability. His long and powerful stride makes him a real danger of defeating defenders very quickly, and his ability to change directions at full speed also allows him to attack the center of the ice. His shot is excellent, as he can score from anywhere on the ice and needs very little space to launch. He also plays North American style hockey where he enjoys physical play, finishing checks, and using his size and speed to be a pest in the front check.

Here’s a look at Ivan Mirosnichenko’s second goal in the match. View wheels and hands on this #2222NHLDraft https://t.co/XzI1UC96zj

The reasons for his withdrawal from the first round are the “Russian factor” due to world affairs affecting transfer agreements between leagues, but more importantly, due to his diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma. The good news is that they diagnose it early, and it’s the most curable form of the disease. Miroshnichenko will likely miss the entire 2022-23 season as well. However, it’s still worth the risk of using the second turn pick on him. With his top 10 talent as well as his status as an unsigned Russian player, the Canadians will be able to hold his rights indefinitely, which makes patience palatable.

With multiple first-round picks for the first time in 15 years as well as several Top 60 picks, Hughes is set to speed up the rebuilding process. This draft class could help reshape the front core group of Canadians in the long run. Using the 2022 draft to select players who match the desired pattern of speed, skill and puck possession, he can make his first draft at the helm of the franchise that will lay the foundation for his future plans.


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2022-05-13 15:25:00

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