Well, well, well. Going into this mock draft I was thinking-hell, everyone and their dog was thinking it- Montreal needs a centre. After being ousted in the very first round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers, Montreal's weakness was made even more apparent: they just can't score. It's not like this is a new thing either, we've been saying this for literally the past 25 years. It seems that a number 1 centre would solve all of their problems. After all, they have a consistent 40 goal man in Max Pacioretty, a brick wall on defense in Shea Weber, and arguably the best goaltender on the planet, Carey Price. But Montreal's lack of depth down the middle (a la Phillip Danault on the 1st line) clearly hurt them the most.
Marc Bergevin knew he'd probably have to give up his left testicle and a 1st round pick to acquire a 1st line centre, so he went the non-traditional route earlier today and traded his right testicle(Mikhail Sergachev) and a conditional 2nd round pick(2018) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Johnathan Drouin and a conditional 6th(2018).
Drouin gives the Canadiens much needed scoring, flair and creativity. Plus, adding a French-Canadian star is nice touch. But you really have to give to get, as Montreal loses their best prospect in Windsor Spitfire defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. This really, really throws a wrench in my draft plans. Montreal does indeed still need a centre as Drouin is primarily a LW, but the absence of Sergachev in the pipeline leaves a huge hole in Montreal's future defense. With Shea Weber aging, there is no telling how long he can remain playing at the elite level he's currently at, and if you take a look at the rest of Montreal's defense.. it doesn't look too great.
-Jeff Petry, 29, $5.5m/4 years
-Alexei Emelin, 31, $4.1m/1 year
-Andrei Markov, 39, UFA (you can probably pencil him down for $3.5m-$4M/1 year)
-Brandon Davidson, 25, $1.4m/1 year (likely to be exposed in Expansion Draft)
-Jordie Benn, 29, $1.1M/2 years (likely to be exposed in Expansion Draft)
-Nathan Beaulieu, 24, RFA
-Nikita Nestorov, 24, RFA (could be KHL bound)
So yeah, not only is Montreal's top 4 not too impressive, they're almost as old as dirt. Emelin is an extremely incompetent player and my (and coaching's) patience with him has completely worn out, so consider him gone after next year. Davidson, Benn, and Beaulieu are the most likely players to be take by Vegas in the expansion draft. That leaves Petry and Markov. Markov is likely going to retire after the end of next season. So, really Petry and Shea Weber(who are both right handed) could be the only good defensemen on this team in just over a year. Yikes.
Don't worry, I'll shut up now and make my pick...
With the 25th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, The Montreal Canadiens are pleased to select...from the Charlottetown Islanders(QMJHL), Pierre-Olivier Joseph(D).
GP:62 G:6 A:33 P:39 PIM:54
It's really ticked me off in recent years when Montreal has skipped over a pretty decent forward to take a defeseman. Well the tides have changed now, and while Joseph doesn't quite fill the gap that Sergachev leaves skill wise, his presence would certainly help. He is a left handed, puck-moving defenseman, who is hailed for his great potential. He shows signs of becoming a Roman Josi 2.0, something I'm sure Shea Weber would be okay with. He's very smart, has good hockey IQ, and is very composed with the puck. He can really thread the needle with his passes, and according to one scout "on the powerplay, he can put the puck in good places. He just sucks guys in and then dishes it off." Defensively, he plays his angles very well and has a pretty active stick according to his reports. He plays tight to his man and can block shots effectively.
-needs to get bigger and stronger
-doesn't score alot
NHL Comparison: Toby Enstrom
Even with the Drouin trade taking place today, I was still tempted to take one of the remaining forwards on the board. But ultimately I went for the best fit for Montreal and that was a left handed defenseman. Erik Brannstrom is an intriguing prospect, but I didn't like how there were at least 5 other defensemen remaining that actually ranked ahead of him in the ISS ranking. In a dream scenario, Montreal trades up a few spots using one of their 2nd rounders to select Valimaki or Vaakanainen.
@AJgoal and the Chicago Blackhawks are now officially on the clock. Sorry for taking so long!