NHL Draft | No options ruled out by Kent Hughes, or even a transaction

(Brossard) Kent Hughes was an agent for 25 years. For 25 years he sat with CEOs, argued and used a variety of tactics to get the best deal for his clients.

Posted at 2:00 p.m
Updated at 7:24 p.m

Guillaume Lefrançois

Guillaume Lefrançois
The press

Here he works as General Manager, a job that requires just as much negotiation skills. We do not know what his conversations with his interlocutors might look like, but in public he speaks like a real negotiator.

It’s about things like suggesting that the first overall pick could trade in Thursday’s draft.

“The decision has not been made yet. But if the draft was tonight, we’d be fishing,” Hughes replied on Monday when colleague François Gagnon asked him directly if he intended to use that selection to pick a player.

In the particular circumstances of this draft, it was quite surprising to hear such an answer. First, because trading in a first-pick coverall is a practice that, like sitting with three people in the front seat of the station wagon, is lost. The last time a team traded a first pick (before drafting it) was in 2003. The Pittsburgh Penguins went from 3e at 1ah rank to claim Marc-André Fleury while the Florida Panthers took Nathan Horton in 3rd placee Selection.

Then, a little detail, this consolation takes place in Montreal. The Bell Center will be packed for a rare event. The Habs fish is valid from 1ah Rank for the first time since 1980.

“I am aware that this would not be the most popular decision for supporters,” admitted the DG CH at a meeting with the media in Brossard. […] But my responsibility is to work for the long-term good of the Montreal Canadiens. We will always look for options to improve the team. »

Later, Hughes himself, without directing the question to the subject, mentioned the possibility of an exchange “if we get an offer we can’t refuse.”

Three options

Few DGs announce their choice in advance when speaking to 1ah Rank. Hughes was expected to carry on the tradition, but he went further, saying his team had “not made up their minds yet”. 72 hours after draft and 55 days after winning the first pick lottery.

I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of hesitation. We want to do our homework. We’ll meet up with our scouts tonight [lundi] and we want to give them a voice.

Kent Hughes, GM of the Canadians

The problem is well known: Unlike Rasmus Dahlin in 2018 or Connor McDavid in 2015, there is no unanimous hope. TSN’s Bob McKenzie surveyed 10 recruiters: five voted for Juraj Slafkovsky, four for Shane Wright, one for Logan Cooley.

Hughes has also conceded that his “homework” (for first pick) involves three attackers.

At 6’4 and 229lbs, winger Slafkovsky is the most physically mature. Center Wright isn’t skinny either, at 6ft, 199lbs, and his all-around game is consistently touted. Cooley, also a center, is viewed by many as a potential home run. Besides the fact that at 180 pounds he could go another year eating spinach.

Last month in Buffalo, Cooley told us he was “ready” to spend next season at varsity.

“Most first picks play in the NHL, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” Hughes said. We don’t want to call up the best player at 18. We want the one who will be the best at 22, 24, 25 years old. »

It commemorates that Trevor Zegras, 9e Pick in 2019, went unpunished at 18 while playing in college. Last season, the forward exploded in Anaheim, amassing 61 points in 75 games.

The role of the Lecavalier

It’s understood that Hughes wasn’t ready to open his game at such a strategically crucial period.

However, Vincent Lecavalier, his special adviser on hockey operations, also attended the press conference. The former striker has offered some details about his role.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Vincent Lecavalier

He actually spoke to Wright recently. The interview was done over the phone, he said. And like Wright a few years ago, Lecavalier was long-awaited as the first overall pick in 1998.

“We talked about his status as nOh 1, stressed Lecavalier. It was understandable how he dealt with it. I started the conversation by telling him how I felt in Rimouski. I found it difficult, there was a lot of pressure. Every day you will be asked if you go out first. »

Only three days left before these questions stop.

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