May 19, 2024

Montreal Canadiens’ Top Targets for the 2024 NHL Draft have already been revealed following the conclusion of the draft lottery. With the Habs set to select 5th overall, attention now turns to the players they may pursue when they step up to the podium on Friday, June 28, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

While the team’s exact intentions remain uncertain, considering the possibility of pre-draft trades and potential surprises, signs point to General Manager Kent Hughes and his team focusing on selecting a forward. This decision is backed by the Canadiens’ robust defensive prospect pool contrasted with the need for elite talent among their forwards. Hughes himself confirmed this emphasis on drafting a forward during his post-lottery media briefing.

Looking at recent draft rankings, notably those by Bob McKenzie, we can identify the forwards likely to be in contention once the top defensemen are taken off the board. Macklin Celebrini is a presumed pick for the San Jose Sharks, leaving a pool of forwards including Ivan Demidov, Cayden Lindstrom, Kostas Helenius, Tij Iginla, Berkly Catton, Cole Eiserman, Beckett Sennecke, and Trevor Connolly as potential targets for Montreal within the top 15.

The draft strategy of the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Columbus Blue Jackets in prioritizing defense may influence Montreal’s approach in the early stages of the first round. As teams vie for top defensive prospects like Anton Silayev, Artyom Levshunov, Sam Dickinson, Zeev Buium, and Zayne Parekh, it could create opportunities for the Canadiens to secure a premier forward talent.

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While Demidov is unlikely to fall to the fifth pick, Lindstrom could be a viable option. However, if the top-tier forwards are off the board, the Canadiens may explore trading down to acquire additional assets while still selecting a talented player from the available pool.

Despite Hughes’ emphasis on drafting a forward, the team must remain open to selecting a top defenseman if they present the best available talent.

With various factors at play, one thing remains certain: the Montreal Canadiens will have a range of intriguing options to consider leading up to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

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