Just seven years ago, in the 2016 draft, a 31st overall pick was not considered a first-round pick. The last choice stopped at 30.
But the arrival of Vegas in 2017, then that of Seattle, in 2021, expanded the number of choices to 32 per round. Talking about a first-round pick always strikes the imagination, but from the 31st rank, the best talented players have had time to find takers, with a few exceptions, of course.
The most pessimistic will say that the Canadian almost inherited a second-round choice from the Florida Panthers for defender Ben Chiarot with the breakthrough of this surprising team until the Stanley Cup final…
If the Pittsburgh Penguins hadn’t stupidly lost 5-2 at home in their penultimate game of the regular season, Florida was out of the playoffs and CH would have gotten the 14th overall pick.
The Canadiens remained certain of getting the 17th overall pick a month ago. The Bruins led their first-round series against the Panthers 3-1, before seeing their opponents win the fifth game in overtime, then the next two.
The four semi-finalists inherit the final picks from each round of the draft. The 31st and 32nd pick finalists. That of CH therefore fell fifteen ranks with the Panthers’ victory in the second round against the Toronto Maple Leafs and could even drop an additional rank if Florida wins the Stanley Cup.
We did the exercise a month ago, with the Panthers on the brink of elimination, listing sixteen players drafted between 17th and 20th overall, between 2014 and 2017.
Nine of those sixteen prospects had become offensive line forwards or top four defensemen, for a success rate of 56%. Among them, Robert Thomas, Josh Norris, Joel Eriksson-Ek, Alex Tuch, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, Tomas Hertl, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Repeating the analysis with the choices between 31st and 34th can be depressing. Let us launch nevertheless, for the sake of veracity.
Of the lot, there are only six established players in the NHL: Peeke, Hague, Fischer, Lemieux, Barbashev, Klostin.
Barbashev is arguably the best of the bunch. He is having a fantastic playoff run in Vegas, with 14 points in 16 games, on the left wing of the first line with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault.
This former Moncton Wildcats finally exploded offensively the previous season with the Blues, at age 26, with a season of 60 points, including 26 goals.
Otherwise, the other players mentioned remain third or fourth line players, or third pair in defense.
Of course, there is always a way to find pearls. Brayden Point was drafted in the third round in 2014, Gustav Forsling in the fifth round; Jason Robertson of the Stars was chosen 39th overall in 2017, after Klostin, Timmins, Lind and Hague; Alex DeBrincat seven places after Asplund in 2016.
But the success rate is significantly lower from the second round, less than 10%, and it takes a combination of flair and luck.
The Canadiens drafted Logan Mailloux 31st in 2021 and Owen Beck 33rd the following year. They show great promise, but let’s wait before devoting them.
Mailloux has just broken offensive records in London, with 24 points in 21 playoff games, but you always have to take the exploits in the junior ranks of a player of 19 or 20 with a grain of salt since he faces younger players.
His performances in Laval next winter will tell us more about his potential than his points amassed this season in the Ontario Junior League, two years after being drafted into the NHL.
Let’s just remember the craze for Josh Brook, this second-round pick of the Canadiens in 2017, after his season of 75 points in 59 games in Moose Jaw, in the Western Junior League, just two years after the draft. Even before injuries derailed his career, Brook was struggling to establish himself in Laval.
As for Beck, his performances at the Canadiens’ training camp give us a glimpse of a possible NHL player, in a more defensive role. Typically, the big point producers are already dominating offensively in the junior ranks at 19.
By comparison, Nick Suzuki had 100 points in 64 games in Owen Sound in 2017-18 after being drafted by Vegas in the first round. He turned 19 in August. Beck had 66 in 60 games in Mississauga, then in Peterborough, his new team, where he does not play on the first line.
Beck scored a nice goal this weekend at the Memorial Cup, his only point in two games. Peterborough nevertheless lost its first two meetings 6-3 against Seattle and 10-2 against Kamloops. Let’s see against Quebec on Tuesday.
“Winning for Joe!” “, we shouted in the locker room of the Stars since the start of the Western Conference final. At 38, and after 16 seasons in the NHL, Joe Pavelski has never won the Stanley Cup, despite having 1,001 points in 1,250 games.
We wanted the Stars to use this element as a source of motivation, like the Colorado Avalanche at the time with Raymond Bourque.
But with the Stars down 0-3 in the series against Vegas, and the two-game suspension of captain Jamie Benn, who still believed it?
Pavelski took charge with an overtime goal Thursday in Game 4, and Dallas prevailed again Saturday, 4-2.
Never has an NHL team overtaken an 0-3 deficit in the semi-finals. The Stars have probably just sown doubt in the heads of Vegas players. Can Dallas win a third game in a row on Monday night?
“There’s only one way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time…” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said after Game 3, to paraphrase the famous 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the South African Desmond Tutu.
There are two big bites left…
1- Is the NHL eating out of Russia’s hand? Yes, believes Philippe Cantin in his column today.
2- When soccer helps support newcomers to Montreal. Justin Vézina recounts this tournament set up with the participation of CF Montreal winger, Jojea Kwizera, who passed through refugee camps.
3- The geopolitical context imposed itself at the Roland-Garros tennis tournament when the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Belarusian opponent Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday morning. The details of Nicholas Richard.