And there we have it folks. The suspense is over, the NHL theatrical is behind us and we now know that the Montreal Canadiens will, indeed, be talking 15th at the next NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21st… unless the Canadiens’ General Manager has something else up his sleeves at the Draft table that is.
Marc Bergevin has always been consistent in his message in saying that good teams aren’t built through free agency and that some of the biggest mistakes are made on July first, the opening day of the free agents’ market. For the most part, he has been able to avoid those mistakes with the exception of Karl Alzner. Does that mean that Bergevin won’t try landing a big fish through free agency? Not at all. As a matter of fact, he’s heading to the Draft and to the free agents’ market with pockets full of cap space, the backing from Geoff Molson to spend that money and with several spots available under the 50 contracts limits. The Canadiens also have no fewer than 10 draft picks at the upcoming draft.
If I were a betting man, my money would be on Bergevin being most active between June 21st and July 1st on the trade front and looking at his track record since taking over the Habs, that is definitely the way to go. He absolutely and categorically must finally find a suitable and capable left-handed top-4 defenseman and anything short of filling the team’s biggest need would be a failure, at least in my opinion. Just as he fixed the holes at centre last summer, a player capable of playing big minutes from the left side of the defense is a must in order for this team to take the next step.
As the Canadiens’ top hockey man mentioned himself during his year end press conference, top prospect Alexander Romanov cannot join the Canadiens until the 2020-21 season and I would add that even then, it would be unrealistic to think that he can step into a top-4 role at the NHL level right off the bat. If anything, the Habs must do with him what they’ve done with Jesperi Kotkaniemi by bringing him slowly and gradually with favourable matchups. So that’s why a stop-gap top-4 defenseman would be needed, someone who can eat up 3-4 years on the left side until Romanov is ready. The Canadiens simply cannot wait that long to address that need.
In the meantime, everyone and anyone will try to play prospects’ experts by making their own mock drafts, selling you on prospect A, B, C or even D for the Canadiens. But remember one thing: Trevor Timmins is the only one with all of the information, and he has his own list which he will be sharing with his management team first, then announce his choice to the rest of the NHL on June 21st. If you don’t believe me, just look at a year ago. That said, let’s hope that fans have learned their lesson and don’t make fools of themselves once again. Go Habs Go!