(Nashville) The Montreal Canadiens made David Reinbacher their first-round pick in the 2023 draft.

The organization was known to hold the Austrian defender in high regard. She proved it by selecting him several ranks before the projections predicted.

The enthusiasm for Reinbacher has skyrocketed in recent months. At mid-season, it was not certain that he would be selected in the first round. Things have definitely changed.

At the same time, the Habs ignore Matvei Michkov, perceived as one of the best attackers of this vintage.

The one who spent the last season in the Swiss first division was also one of the few players of his age to take part in the Senior World Championship last spring.

Despite himself, goalkeeper Carey Price created the funniest moment of the evening so far. At Hughes’ invitation, he stepped up to the microphone to announce the CH selection, waved to the crowd and said the first name “David”. He then froze, having obviously forgotten Reinbacher’s last name. After a few seconds, the DG finally put him out of his misery. “We planned it like that! joked Hughes.

Reinbacher has been playing in Switzerland for years and spent the last season in the Swiss top division, facing men. In 46 games, he had 22 points. He may have turned 18 in October (a “late”, in the jargon), but the value of what he has achieved is not trivial. As a bonus, he is right-handed, a rarity in the organization’s prospect pool.

Zurich Lions head coach Marc Crawford has seen Reinbacher up close.

At the NHL evaluation camp in Buffalo, Hughes had praised his overall game. “He’s big and his defensive game is very mature. Often, we see the opposite, it is the last aspect that develops, ”explained the general manager of the Canadian.

Hughes had also specified that with equal talent, he would favor a right-handed defender over a left-handed one.

As Reinbacher evolves in Europe, the Habs will have the option of sending him to Laval in the fall. The first two defensemen drafted last year, Simon Nemec (2nd, New Jersey) and David Jiricek (6th, Columbus), have just spent the season in the American League.

This is the third time in four years that CH has drafted a defender in the first round. In 2020, the team claimed Kaiden Guhle in 16th place, while in 2021, in 31st place, Montreal created a commotion by selecting Logan Mailloux. Guhle has just spent the entire season with the big club, while Mailloux should theoretically start his professional career this fall.

Reinbacher is the earliest drafted defenseman in Canadiens history, tied with Petr Svoboda in 1984 and Pierre Bouchard in 1965.