Montreal's draft dilemma puts them in a potential lose situation

It appears the Montreal Canadiens have yet to decide between Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky as their No. 1 overall pick at the 2022 NHL Draft, meaning whoever they pick could become a mistake depending on how things play out.

Video Transcript

JULIAN MCKENZIE: There is a debate around the number one overall pick in this year's NHL entry draft. I know amongst a lot of Canadiens fans, it's is it going to be Shane Wright, is it going to be Juraj Slafkovsky, is it going to be Logan Cooley? Even though General Manager Kent Hughes admitted it's really down to those three players. I'm just curious, outside of the Montreal market, how do you guys see this debate? How do you guys see who could go first overall, or second overall, or whatever? Omar, how do you see it?

- I mean, it's interesting, but I've also found it difficult at times not to roll my eyes, just because--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Interesting.

- --it's kind of been clear who the first overall pick is. But one thing that I've been seeing-- I've been seeing some interesting comparisons to 2012. For those who forgot, 2012 was the Nail Yakupov draft where it was clear everyone wanted Nail Yakupov for first overall. But I think what we heard behind the scenes that there are members of the Oilers organization that actually were flirting with the idea of taking Ryan Murray first overall. But I think ownership stepped in and said, no we're taking Nail Yakupov because that was the Yakupov draft. So--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That worked out well.

- Ha! And so with this draft, again, from last year, 2022 was the Shane Wright draft. So it's interesting how it's always been Shane Wright, but now the discourse is shifting. And that's happening, and it's happened before with Nico Hischier, I think, in 2017. I forgot who was projected to be first that year, but I think it was like halfway through the season, Nico Hischier kind of stepped up and ended end up being taken a lot of firsts overall, after I think the [INAUDIBLE] junior performance. So I don't know. I think at the end of the day, it'll be right-- ha, Shane Wright.

[LAUGHTER]

But it is interesting. I don't know. Maybe they're trying to hype up Habs fans, though. Maybe they're trying to get a huge uproar or a huge pop once his name is announced. But I don't know. I think it's going to be Wright, but we'll see.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK. All right. Cuth, what do you think about it?

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, I'm not really sure who it should be. I'd be lying if I said I spent much time scouting either of those two. I mean, I obviously saw a little bit of Slafkovsky at the Olympics--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Thank you for admitting that, by the way, because there's so many people want to be armchair scouts out here.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yes.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I just want to acknowledge the fact that-- thank you for telling the truth.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Every year, I have to throw that out there, because I mean, that's just-- the fact of the matter is I don't really know how to split these two hairs. But I do know I'd rather be in the Devils position than Montreal's position. Because I think these two guys are close. There is a choice. I don't know if it's a coin flip choice, but there is at least probably some indecision.

And if you're Montreal, there's the possibility of making the wrong selection. If you're Jersey, you just take who you get, whoever falls to you. You might win the-- well, you might win the lottery again, but you might be better off because Montreal makes the wrong choice. Or if you get the inferior player, well, you had no choice, because Montreal was in the pole position to get the better player.

So I feel like there's a little bit of a lose situation setting up for Montreal. It's possible that this blows up in their face a little bit, while Jersey can sit back, take the next best player-- or perceived next best player-- or trade the pick, and maybe, I guess, in that sense, they could go-- they could be very, very wrong as well. But I kind of think these guys are really close. And for that reason, one team can go wrong, the other one maybe can't go wrong.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK. What about you, Sam?

SAM CHANG: Yeah. Like Cuth, I admit I have not taken a close look at any of these players. I usually go for my-- I go to EP Rinkside and Cam Robinson, usually, for my draft insight. I don't have the time or desire to watch a ton of junior prospects play, unfortunately. But I would be surprised if it wasn't Shane Wright, just from things I've read, obviously not from anything that I've seen personally. And I've-- to be totally honest with you, I've had a hard time getting super excited for this draft, because mostly if I have time to watch somebody play, I'm watching Connor Bedard.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: You're already excited for next year's draft.

SAM CHANG: Yeah. I'm over it. I don't care about this year's draft. I just want to watch Connor Bedard play.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov, I get it. Next year's draft, at least off those two players alone, that's a much better set of players, comparatively-- at least on paper, anyway-- compared to Connor Bedard or Juraj Slafkovsky. Or Logan Cooley, if you want to put him in that twosome

SAM CHANG: I will say for Habs fans, there's no way you could do worse than your number one draft pick last year. So things are looking up.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Well, that's good for Canadiens fans. Hopefully for them, a lot less controversy around whoever they select first overall.

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