Michael McCarron was the Canadiens' first pick in 2013. Who will it be this year?
The 2014 NHL draft will be an interesting one, not only for the Montreal Canadiens but for all teams across the league. There isn't much agreement among scouts; therefore, predicting a perfect fit for an organization won't be easy.
There is no consensus No. 1 pick this year.
Defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts (OHL) tops TSN's Bob McKenzie's rankings at midseason.
TSN director of scouting Craig Button thinks Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice (WHL) should be the top pick.
And Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) tops the NHL Central Scouting Services midterm rankings of North American skaters.
There doesn't even seem to be a dominant league or region this year, as Gare Joyce of Sportsnet.ca points out. Draft eligible players are scattered all over North America and Europe.
It's a strange draft year indeed.
Barring an epic collapse, the Montreal Canadiens won't have a chance at the first pick. They shouldn't be anywhere near the top five, really. Assuming they stay close to their current placement in the standings, the Habs should be drafting around the middle of the first round.
Based on draft placement and organizational needs, here are five perfect fits for the Montreal Canadiens at the 2014 NHL draft.
The Montreal Canadiens will certainly be looking to add size and talent to their forward prospects. Selecting Nick Ritchie of the Peterborough Petes in the first round would do just that.
Ritchie is a 6'3", 235-pound left winger that is ranked in the top 10 by the NHL but falls to No. 15 if you ask Craig Button of TSN. If he were to fall to the middle of the first round, Montreal should be looking to pull the trigger.
This season, Ritchie has 20 goals and 25 assists in 45 games as an 18-year-old. He also has a penchant for the rough stuff with 95 penalty minutes.
Ritchie would be a perfect fit for the Habs if he were to fall toward the middle of the first round on June 27.
Nikolaj Ehlers (right)
Staying with the idea that Montreal will probably look for a talented forward with size in the first round, Nikolaj Ehlers could be an option as well.
Ehlers is a Danish forward who currently plays for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. He is enjoying a successful first season in North America with 28 goals and 67 points in 45 games.
At 5'11", 162 pounds, Ehlers isn't huge but has room to grow. My NHL Draft claims he has the speed to beat any defender and also possesses "an explosive wrister."
Photo Credit: www.swedenhockey.se
The Habs have focused some of their drafting efforts on Sweden in the recent years with the selections of Jacob de la Rose, Sebastian Collberg and Magnus Nygren. And why not—Sweden has proved at recent World Junior Championships to have one of the top development systems in the world right now.
Taking that into consideration, Oskar Lindblom might be someone the Canadiens have their eye on in the second round in 2014.
Lindblom is a 6'2", 187-pound winger who is described by Elite Prospects as "a powerful skater with a strong, two-way game." The Scouting Report likes his "intriguing offensive potential," when you consider his size and room for development.
He currently plays for the Brynas Junior squad in Sweden, where he has seven goals and 15 assists through 28 games.
If Montreal decides to add to its prospects on defense early in the draft, Brycen Martin could be a name it looks at in the first or second round.
The 6'1", 178-pound defenseman is described as an "offensive-minded blueliner who has good hands and likes to carry the puck himself" by Elite Prospects. My NHL Draft says he has good ice vision and passes well.
Martin currently plays for Swift Current of the WHL. He has four goals and 22 assists in 51 games played.
Nikita Tryamkin (middle)
Nikita Tryamkin is someone Montreal might have its eye on in the second or third round. Considering his size, it'd be hard not to look in his direction.
Tyramkin is a 6'7", 230-pound monster. Any defenseman with that size will attract the attention of scouts and general managers come June. The shutdown potential is just too much to ignore.
He had a solid tournament for Russia at the 2014 World Juniors, finishing with a goal and two assists. More importantly, he was a solid plus-five in seven games.
Although still a teenager, Tryamkin is in his second full season with Yekaterinburg Automobilist of the KHL. In 2013-14, he has a goal, six assists and a plus-four rating in 43 games.