(Brossard) Kent Hughes insists three candidates are still fighting for first place in the repechage three days before the first round presentation at the Bell Centre.
Posted at 2:00 p.m
Updated at 3:54 p.m
The Montreal Canadiens general manager said Monday that his group of recruiters and team management will spend the next few days debating who the team will pick first in the draft between forwards Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Loogan Cooley.
However, Hughes’ goal isn’t to win the best 18-year-old player, but rather the one who, by the age of 23, 24 or 25, can help the team win year after year.
“We try to predict what a player will become and you have to take a lot of factors into account,” added Hughes. What he can do now, will he make it to the next level? There’s a hockey factor, a positional factor, and a host of other psychological factors. »
Special Counsel for Hockey Operations Vincent Lecavalier said he recently spoke with Wright, who has been an nOh 1 of the 2022 vintage. However, Wright fell out of favor with many observers as the season progressed. Lecavalier hoped to have a chance to speak with Slafkovsky and Cooley before drafting.
“I wanted to see how he did this season with No. 1 status,” said Lecavalier, himself drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998. I shared my experience by talking about my last season with the Rimouski Océanic, how difficult it was to deal with the pressure.
“He also told me about his game, I learned a lot about him. He is a good person with high standards. »
Lecavalier pointed out how difficult it was to compare Wright, Slafkovsky and Cooley when the former played in the Canadian junior ranks, second in the Finnish league and third in the American development program.
Hughes said it was important that the player selected could continuously improve. He didn’t care about the presence of the selected player at the Canadian from next season.
“What’s important with all of our hopes is that they live up to their full potential,” Hughes said.
However, the ex-agent admitted that Wright and Slafkovsky are likely ready to play in the NHL next season. Cooley has already expressed interest in playing at least one season in the NCAA.
An active manager?
When asked about several trade scenarios, Hughes admitted he would rather look to improve his second pick’s rank than trade his first pick to withdraw.
The Canadiens also own the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick, 26e in total. He has 14 speaking rights in total.
“We will examine all options. It’s possible we’ll evolve or swap selections for future years,” Hughes said.
Hughes hasn’t ruled out giving up his first overall pick if the offer is right, but he recognizes it may not be the most popular decision if the event takes place at the Bell Center.
“If the consolation had taken place tonight [lundi], we would make that choice, but at the same time, it is my responsibility to work for the good of Canadians. We will definitely review all options,” Hughes said.
Hughes had no new information to share about goalkeeper Carey Price’s condition.
He also said that no decision had been made regarding defender Kaiden Guhle’s participation in the World Junior Championships in August in Edmonton.
Hughes said head coach Martin St-Louis has already begun finding a new assistant to replace Luke Richardson, who has been named head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.
He also came back to the Jeff Petry case and reiterated that he would trade the American defender if the offer was good. Hughes also said it’s possible Petry could return to the Canadiens next season and have his family rejoin him in Montreal.
Finally, Hughes claimed defender Alexander Romanov was due to return to North America this week and was being closely watched by the Canadian, as was striker Evgenii Dadonov, particularly after goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov was forcibly drafted into military service.