The Montreal Canadiens currently hold the fifth-best odds for the NHL Draft Lottery and feel confident in their ability to extract top talent from this talented 2023 class.
Although the 2023 Draft Lottery is only on May 8, general manager Kent Hughes and VP of Hockey Ops, Jeff Gorton, aren’t going to wait for lottery balls to determine their strategy for the 2023 NHL Draft.
The Montreal Canadiens management team has already confirmed that they’ll be present in Switzerland this week as the highly anticipated IIHF U-18 World Championships begin.
“We’re confident that, independent of the lottery, we’re going to get a really good player,” said Gorton regarding their game plan going into the spring. “We’d love to win the lottery, but we’re going to get a really good player according to our scouts. We’re heading over to Europe soon to watch a few.”
Some of the players they could get a look at include Andrew Cristall, Colby Barlow, Will Smith, Oliver Moore, Ryan Leonard and more top talent expected to go relatively high on June 28.
Outside of possibly winning the lottery and selecting a Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli, the Montreal Canadiens would likely be picking at 5, 6 to 7 and are doing their due diligence to make sure their draft list will be as comprehensive as possible.
On top of their own pick, they also own the Florida Panthers’ 1st-round pick, which could fall at 17th overall should the Panthers fall to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.
It gives the Montreal Canadiens some options going into the draft, and their research over the next month, from CHL playoffs to U-18s to World Championships, is likely to dictate how aggressive they want to be on the draft floor.
But, unlike years of the past, the Hughes and Gorton feel they’re in the right spot to make some moves and jump for the players they like; making the intrigue for this draft even more interesting.
“I think we’re in a good position where we have a lot assets, good young players, a lot of draft picks. We have the leverage to make some deals and do those kinds of things. I would expect that we would be active at the draft and push it along as far as we can,” said Jeff Gorton regarding his draft position and possibly moving up. “We’ll all cross our fingers at the Lottery. I think we’re in a really good spot, and our scouts think we’re going to get a really good player.”
The Canadiens have an 8.5% chance of winning the 1st overall pick, and an 8.8% chance of winning the 2nd overall pick.
It would take a lot of luck to win the Draft Lottery two years in a row for the Canadiens, but, in the event that they don’t, they’ll be ready to select another top prospect or two to add to their rebuild.