Teams Without a 1st Round Pick: 16th Overall Available?

It’s upon us. Finally, the NHL Draft will be taking place four months later than normal. But it’s happening! The wait for these young men will be over soon enough. No, it won’t be held at the Bell Centre as it was supposed to happen. It will rather be online, through video conferencing with special phone lines dedicated for it, and some to the 31 General Managers wanting to talk to their homologues about potential trades. So it’s not from the podium, but through a computer screen that Gary Bettman will be saying the much anticipated phrase: “We have a trade to announce…”

Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin surprised more than a few people last week when he stated that his first round pick, 16th overall, could be in play. This is a total change of gear for Bergevin who had committed to a reset back in the summer of 2018. Perhaps it’s due at least in part to his team’s performance in this “return to play”, beating fifth place Pittsburgh and being the better team in spite of losing to Philadelphia. Nonetheless, it seem like Bergevin is ready to make a push. The addition of Joel Edmundson is another hint of just that.

No first round pick

Just for fun, let’s look at teams who don’t have their first round pick this year. There are six of them: the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Arizona Coyotes, the Tampa Bay Lighting, the New York Islanders, the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. Half of those teams are tight against the cap, which as we know, is staying at $81.5 million this season. So for them, it could very well be double the reason to get a first round pick by dumping salary.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens being taken out of the play-in series against the Canadiens added insult to injury. GM Jim Rutherford already made three moves, in one of which he sent his first round pick to Toronto.

Looking at their roster, they don’t really have what the Habs would be looking for, which is scoring help on the wing. The Pens don’t seem to be a good match for a trade with the Canadiens, unless a third team got involved.

Arizona Coyotes

Not only do the Coyotes not have a first round pick, they don’t get to pick until the fourth round. That’s an issue. The Canadiens? Well, in addition to the 16th overall, they also have three picks in the second round and their own third round pick. They have asked Oliver Ekman-Larsson to expand his list of teams to accept to be traded to, to no avails. It’s Vancouver or Boston. Ironically, neither of them have a first round pick.

I personally really like Lawson Crouse, but he’s far from being worth a first round pick. I’m not convinced that Montreal and Arizona are good trading partners, at least not for the Canadiens’ first round pick. However, hear me out. Pieces could be added here and there, but what if the main pieces of a three-way were:

MTL 1st round pickOliver Ekman-LarssonBrock Boeser

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are still hungover from their Cup win that they have tons of work to do. They are in cap hell right now and some major decisions need to be made. Depending on who they unload in a trade, they could very well request a first round pick. Tampa being a team loaded with offense, they have what the Canadiens are looking for. They also only have three defensemen signed for next season. But they are also in the same division. It’s buyer beware however as several players had a career year in their late 20’s.

More articles about potential trades:

New York Islanders

Like the Canadiens, the Islanders don’t have an overload of firepower on the right side up front. So unless a third team got involved, they might not be the best trade partners. That said, they have a Finnish prospect that intrigues me. Otto Koivula is a 22 year-old 6’4″ winger with good hands who likes to use his shoulders. He could be a good physical bottom-six forward, although not worth the Canadiens’ first round pick of course.

Vancouver Canucks

We’ve touched on the Canucks a few times, me being from BC and having a chance to watch them fairly regularly. There were talks, after their elimination, that they wanted to re-sign deadline acquisition Tyler Toffoli. I don’t know what’s holding the signature but we don’t hear anything about it. Brock Boeser was said to be a possibility to be sacrificed in a trade. He fits the bill at 100% for the Canadiens. Could the 16th overall be enticing for Jim Benning, in some sort of package?

Boston Bruins

Da Bruins. Da damned Bruins. Let them rot. The Habs won’t help them. They seem to have enough on their plate anyway. They’re a team driven by that top line. Top heavy and not much else.

Busy, busy, busy

We there you have it. Amongst the six teams above-mentioned without a first round pick, there isn’t much in there for the Habs. Arizona and Vancouver have some interesting potential however. But as Marc Bergevin likes to say: “Expect the unexpected.” It should be a busy next few days in Habs’ land. Go Habs Go!

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