The Montreal team absolutely had to improve defensively. This is what she did by selecting fullback Cayla Barnes in the first round of the draft on Monday evening.

Unsurprisingly, forward Sarah Fillier headed to New York at number one; “a dream come true” for the young star of the Canadian national team. Fillier, seen by many as a generational talent, just finished her college career with an impressive record of 194 points, including 93 goals, in 120 games.

Montreal was the fifth team to take the stage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Only one defender, Claire Thompson (Minnesota, 3rd overall), had already heard her name at that point. General manager Danièle Sauvageau has chosen Barnes, a right-handed defender who, she said in a press release, “will be able to come and lend a hand next season.”

“We were pleasantly surprised to see that Cayla was available when it came time to make our selection,” said the CEO.

“I’m super excited! » Barnes said once she got off stage. “I’ve been to Montreal a few times and I’m really excited to get started. I’ll have to find my French again, but I’m super excited to learn! »

The Eastvale, Calif., native had 11 goals and 25 assists in 39 games, while posting a plus-71 rating, with the Ohio State University Buckeyes last season.

Barnes has been a part of the U.S. national team for several years. In the metropolis, she will meet several opponents who are members of the Canadian team, including Marie-Philip Poulin. “I’m so excited to be able to play with her,” she said. She is one of the best players in the world. »

The young woman said she watched several Montreal matches last season. “They have a good core and a solid foundation,” she noted.

Danièle Sauvageau added two more defenders later in the selection session: Anna Wilgren, a 24-year-old American who played for the University of Wisconsin, and Anna Kjellbin, a 30-year-old Swede who comes with ten years of experience at part of the Swedish national team.

In rounds two through four, Sauvageau opted to add talent to his offensive brigade. In the second round, she chose Jennifer Gardiner, another Ohio State University product. The latter thus joined Barnes, “one of [her] best friends”.

The striker was beaming as she took to the stage. “When you hear your name, it’s like your whole world lights up,” she said at a press conference.

Gardiner, a 22-year-old British-Columbian, has just scored 18 goals and 27 assists in 39 games with the Buckeyes, good for second in points on her team. She rightly said she wanted to bring a “marker’s touch” to Kori Cheverie’s troupe. Such a thing won’t hurt, considering that Montreal often lacked players capable of finding the back of the net in the last season.

“I just want to contribute in any way on and off the ice to bring a championship to Montreal,” added the newcomer.

In the third round, Danièle Sauvageau requested a five-minute timeout, visibly undecided. To everyone’s surprise, she opted for forward Abigail Boreen, who played 14 games for the Minnesota team last season, scoring 6 points. The 24-year-old American said she had no discussions with Montreal before the draft and was surprised to hear her name.

Dara Greig, sister of Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig, was Sauvageau’s fourth-round selection. The 23-year-old is coming off a 42-point campaign in 40 games with the Colgate University Raiders.

Everyone was wondering where Amanda Kessel, who was unable to play last year due to injuries, would end up. Danièle Sauvageau made the American star her final selection of the draft, at 41st overall.

Kessel, 32, was eligible for the draft, but is rumored to have had discussions to become Minnesota’s new general manager. If such a thing happens, she will obviously not come to play in Montreal.

Otherwise, the idea of ​​a team bringing together Marie-Philip Poulin and Amanda Kessel is enough to excite Montreal fans… and intimidate opposing teams!