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Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 NHL Draft: Why the Montreal Canadiens Need to Trade Down

by Willey

Guess who’s back? Back again. Willey’s back. Tell your friends. Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back?

Sorry, got carried away there.

I know, I know, it has truly been a while and I apologize but life has thrown me a few curve balls of late. It’s tough to sit down and contemplate the hockey season when your 8-month-old son faces health problems which give you a scare. But fortunately we appear to finally have things under control.

So with that enormous weight lifted off my shoulders I sit back, put my feet up and get back to one of those true passions in my life; Le Bleu Blanc Rouge.

I realize that the timing of this is horrific. A passion restored despite the Habs being eliminated at the hands of our arch rival Boston Bruins—who eventually went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Yes the pain is there, and yes there is a lot of bitterness and anger towards some of the players on this roster. But despite the hostility, my thoughts are focused on a simple question; what next?

The Draft

"Le Club de Hockey Canadiens est fier de selectionner..."

With the elimination of the Habs in the first round of the playoffs Montreal will sit in the 17th spot come this week's draft.

The 17th spot is never a bad position to be in. Although right in the middle of the pack, there have been some true impact players chosen in later spots from guys like Ryan Getzlaf to Claude Giroux. The key is to do your due diligence and determine what player will ultimately fit the best.

Like any fan I'd love to see GM Pierre Gauthier pull a rabbit out of his hat by trading up to secure a top-10 pick, drafting a potential franchise player. But the Habs are simply not in a position to move up.

With the loss of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges in the 2010-11 season, Gauthier was obliged to part ways with a second round pick for James Wizniewski, a third round pick for Brent Sopel and a fifth round pick for Paul Mara. With a team already thin in organizational depth there is a major need to hang onto every pick that we have.

So what will Gauthier do? Oh the questions I have!

Will the team ultimately decide to stay put and take the best player on the board with the 17th choice? Will Gauthier part ways with one or more players currently on the roster to secure some of these lost picks? Is this the year we finally watch our scouting staff acquire that perpetually elusive big center?

So many questions and so many possibilities, it makes for great television and much debate until a name is ultimately called at the drafting podium.

So I ask you a simple question: are you more interested in what happens at the draft table on June 24th or are you nervous with anticipation wondering what I would do?

I think I know the answer.

GM for a day

Forget about the draft and forget about the pending RFA and UFA players, this is my world people. I am fed up of watching every single team in the NHL draft big bodied players while we sit back and take what we perpetually hear as “the best player on the board”.

I mean really? Does this organization really think we are just cattle who take all the BS that is thrown our way when year after year the best player on the board isn’t even tall enough to sit on the big rides at LaRonde?

Why is it that every single hockey player characterized as somewhere between legal dwarf and just vertically challenged finds his way to the Bleu Blanc Rouge?

Come on already, let’s start getting bigger. Forget the “best player on the board”, let’s get the biggest, the meanest, the dirtiest; you know the type of guy we have all wanted since Chris Nilan hung up his skates so many moons ago?

So this is my world now people and in my world I am the one running the show. And in my world I am sliding down in the draft to select……Ok wait sorry, let me back this up a little bit because I am getting ahead of myself.

If Jamie Oleksiak or Tyler Biggs are available at 17 then you can absolutely forget what I am about to say. I am taking either one of these guys in a heartbeat but let’s be honest here for a second, I know that you know, that I know that you know, that Jamie Oleksiak and Tyler Biggs are not going to be available at 17 so why am I even wasting your time with this?

So where was I?

Oh yes, as I was saying, in the 2011 NHL entry draft I am sliding down to somewhere in the 22-30 range. Heck I might even consider sliding to the 2nd round if it means securing the guy I want.

Am I nuts? I think we all know that I am but remember this is my world and in my world I run the show. Quite frankly, there are some great players available later in the draft who can all help this club going forward.

By trading away our first round pick Gauthier, errr or should I say Willey, would be able to acquire as high as an additional second round choice (which we currently do not have) or something like a third and fifth round selection. In other words, continue to get the guy you want but equally secure some additional picks.

So who is that man that would facilitate a slide?

Put it this way, “With our first pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft Le Club de Hockey Canadiens est fier de selectionner Boone Jenner of the Oshawa Generals”.

TSN has Jenner ranked 26th, ISS has him ranked 38th and the Hockey News 40th. Regardless of his ranking he is exactly the type of player that fits the Gauthier and Jacques martin mold.

Jenner is a 6’1 and 195lbs center from the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He has great vision, a keen hockey sense and has some fantastic offensive abilities. He also scored at a point-per-game pace in both the regular season and playoffs.

But what sets him apart is his work ethic, leadership qualities and ability to play a gritty two-way game.

Jenner may not be the offensive savior of this club going forward and he is not the next Milan Lucic, but he can easily become a fan favorite. In my opinion, with time he would form a fantastic one-two punch as a line mate of the much anticipated Louis Leblanc.

And there it is. Boone Jenner is a member of the Montreal Canadiens and I can go to sleep knowing that in my world, we got “the best player on the board”.

At least in my mind we did. But what do you think?

Willey was the shining light among the wicked growing up as the lone Habs fan in Toronto. Pray to Holy Ghosts of the old forum and all shall be answered I was told, and just like that my family was transferred back to Montreal and away from the damned. Olé, Olé, Olé!

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)


  1. Honestly, Boone Jenner is much more likely to be a better player than Biggs. The physically mature Biggs lacks offensive finish and hockey sense, people are being lured into his aggressive style and imposing physical force but to me, he seems far more likely to be somewhere between Travis Moen and Colby Armstrong than a Lucic or a Ryan.

    To me, the Habs need physical-game forwards but they also need the forward who is going to set it on fire offensively. Risk-reward is my vote for the first round, I don't personally like Jenner's offensive ceiling and MTL already has plenty of character forwards in the system, they need the guy the character forwards are going to be protecting.

  2. @Serious

    Thanks for the feedback. Personally I do not see much character from the group of forwards we have drafted and we still have alot of small guys on the team and small guys on the horizon with Kristo and Leblanc. That's just my take though.

    So who if available would be your guy?

  3. Willey, welcome back. I agree the Habs could stockpile some picks this year, and really the difference between #17 and say #22 really shouldn't matter too much. But in the neighbourhood of #17 TSN has Tyler Biggs, Sven Bartschi, Jamie Oleksiak and Mark McNeill. All intriguing picks. I like Biggs for the grit but I think the Habs need a sniper. I think Bartschi is a great choice but lacks the size the Habs need. I dont think we need a Dman but Oleksiak is definitely intriguing. He would be the Habs' Zdeno...LOL.

    I personally think a trade down could be beneficial if the Habs got a decent 2nd rounder and maybe a 4th and 5th. Possible candidates for this would be: St Louis(no 1st and 3 2nds, 2 3rds), Winnipeg(give up #20 and #51 for our #17). Maybe even Edmonton gives up #19, #62 and #114.

    Given the above info and cross reference with TSN it looks like this:

    1) trade with STL - say they give #32, #72 and #132. That gets the Habs Nicklas Jensen(TSN #24(optimism), Xavier Ouellet(Mtl loves QMJHL and this kid played for the MTL Juniors)and IDK #132.

    2) trade with Winnipeg gets Brandon Saad(#22 TSN, a great power fwd) and Miika Salomaki(2 way Finn just up JM's alley)

    3) Edmonton scenario nabs us Nathan Beaulieu as he drops from #11(a good sized Dman with puck moving ability), Vincent Trocheck(26g at #62 we take that all day.)

    Personally i could see the Habs dealing the later picks for depth type guys. I think they will draft #17 unless there is a pkg type deal involving roster players. In a dream world they ship #17 and Pouliot to Ottawa for #6 and then they take either Couturier or Landeskog. Or on an acid trip they send #17 and Gomez to FLA and draft Huberdeau(Habs still love the Q) at #3.

    Let me know what you think....

  4. @Hirky

    Dude did you have ESP or something? Never in a million years would I have thought Beaulieu would drop to the 17 spot. This was an absolute steal for us in the draft. 6'3, great outlet pass, can skate like the wind.

    Gauthier said it himself that he was getting alot of calls for that pick but ultimately couldn't let the opportunity pass.

    In all seriousness I would have loved Gauthier to trade, try to secure some extra picks hopefully in the 2nd round but it wasn't meant to be. Instead the hockey GODS served us Nathan Beaulieu on a silver platter with a sign that read: "Pick me, Pick me".

    What a great pick up