Alexis Lafrenière To Montreal: The Odds

This is a fun time of the year if you’re a hockey fan. In a somewhat dull, long NHL season where teams seem to be going through the motions, in a league where in-season trades are so few and far between, fans are often bored. But here comes the IIHF World Junior hockey tournament, where the best under-19 players in the world face each other in a short tourney. The relentless way those kids play the game and the high caliber of hockey give fans a much necessary jolt, some much needed excitement.

At this year’s World Juniors, one name is on just about every Montreal Canadiens’ lips: Saint-Eustache, Quebec born Alexis Lafrenière. Let’s be honest here… he’s on the lips of every NHL team who are not Stanley Cup contenders. Really, how nice would it be to get such a talented player to boost your team? While the thought of landing the first overall pick is an annual desire, or consolation prize, this one is special for Montreal, a very unique market in the NHL by the language defining the franchise… and this prospect is one of them! Fans are watching the tournament, dreaming of seeing the Habs “tank for Lafrenière”, as they call it. But what are the odds of that happening?

For one thing, the Canadiens are fighting for a playoffs’ spot and while the team has some major holes in their lineup, needs that GM Marc Bergevin is struggling to fill in-season, the Habs are very unlikely to get the first overall pick and if they make the playoffs, they will have zero chance via the Draft lottery. But even if they missed out on the playoffs, the odds of winning the lottery are very slim. Even the team finishing dead last in the NHL only has 18.5% odd of winning the right to speak first at the 2020 Draft, ironically held in Montreal.

So the Canadiens’ best chances of getting Lafrenière at the Draft would be to trade for him. That’s easier said than done as historically, first overall picks are rarely traded. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t been done in the Salary Cap Era as the last time it happened was back in 2003. Let’s look at the times when teams did trade the very first pick in the NHL, shall we?


Pittsburgh Penguins getFlorida Panthers get
– No. 1 pick
– 3rd round pick
– No. 3 pick
– 2nd round pick
– Mikael Samuelsson
Player selected:Marc-André Fleury


Columbus Blue Jackets getFlorida Panthers get
– No. 1 pick– No. 3 pick
– Right to swap to picks in 2003
Player selected:Rick Nash


Atlanta Thrashers getVancouver Canucks get
– No. 1 pick– No.2 pick
– 3rd round pick
Player selected:Patrik Stefan


Tampa Bay Lightning getSan Jose Sharks get
– No. 1 pick
– Andrei Nazarov
– No. 2 pick
– Bryan Marchment
– David Shaw
Player selected:Vincent Lecavalier


Philadelphia Flyers getQuebec Nordiques get
– No. 1 pick *– Peter Forsberg
– Ron Hextall
– Steve Duchesne
– Kerry Huffman
– Mike Ricci
– $15 million
– two first-round picks
Player selected:Eric Lindros
* Quebec had already selected Lindros who refused to report. He never played a game with the Nordiques


Minnesota North Stars getPittsburgh Penguins get
– No. 1 pick
– George Ferguson
– No. 15 pick
– Ron Meighan
– Anders Hakansson
Player selected:Brian Lawton


Boston Bruins getColorado Rockies get
– No. 1 pick
– 2nd round pick
– Dwight Foster*
– No. 22 pick
– 10th round pick
Player selected:Gord Kluzak
* This was a compensation to the Rockies for signing Foster


Montreal Canadiens getColorado Rockies get
– No. 1 pick*– No. 19 pick
– Ron Andruff
– Sean Shanahan
Player selected:Doug Wickenheiser
The trade happened in 1976 (4 years prior). The Habs traded Andruff and Shanahan to the Rockies for the right to swap first-round picks in 1980 (no. 1 for no. 19).


Philadelphia Flyers getWashington Capitals get
– No. 1 pick– No. 18 pick
– Bill Clement
– Don McLean
Player selected:Mel Bridgman


Montreal Canadiens getCalifornia Golden Seals get
– 1971 first-rounder (no. 1)
– Francois Lacombe
– 1970 first-rounder (no. 10)
– Ernie Hicke
Player selected:Guy Lafleur

In my humble opinion, there is absolutely no doubt that Bergevin is setting himself up to make a serious offer, even a severe overpayment to the team winning the Draft lottery in order to convince them to give him the first overall pick. The Habs have been stockpiling prospects and picks like there’s no tomorrow and that, even knowing that they’ll have a hard time fitting all of them under the 50 contracts limit when comes time to signing these guys.

He’s relying heavily on Trevor Timmins and Shayne Churla to draft well, and on Joël Bouchard to develop those players so the Canadiens have more munitions to entice or even trade for the first overall pick next summer. But folks, don’t hold your breath on that one. The team is too strong to earn that pick through lottery and the odds are against the Habs to complete a trade with whichever team wins that lottery. In the meantime though, let’s cheer our team to win… NOT to tank. Go Habs Go!

5 thoughts on “Alexis Lafrenière To Montreal: The Odds

  1. Habs should make a big deal to get 1st or even 2nd pick if they don’t win the lottery. If not, either deal the pick for a star player or move as many of the 2nd round or later picks up higher. Try to accumulate more 1st round picks.

Leave a Reply