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NHL Draft | The Canadian still hesitates between three attackers

(Brossard) Kent Hughes insists that there are still three candidates in contention for the first place in the repechage, three days before the presentation of the first round at the Bell Centre.

Posted at 2:00 p.m.
Updated at 3:54 p.m.

Alexis Belanger-Champagne
The Canadian Press

The general manager of the Montreal Canadiens said on Monday that his group of recruiters and the team’s management will spend the next few days debating who the team will select first in the draft between forwards Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Loogan. Cooley.

However, Hughes’ objective is not to get the best 18-year-old player, but rather the one who, at 23, 24 or 25, can help the team win year after year.

“We try to predict what will become of a player and you have to take into account many factors,” added Hughes. What he is able to do now, will he be able to do it at the next level? There’s a hockey factor, there’s a position factor and there’s a bunch of other psychological factors. »

Special adviser for hockey operations Vincent Lecavalier said he recently spoke with Wright, who has been seen for several years as the noh 1 of the 2022 vintage. However, Wright lost favor with many observers during the season. Lecavalier hoped to have the opportunity to speak with Slafkovsky and Cooley before the draft.

“I wanted to see how he had managed that season with the status of number 1, said Lecavalier, himself drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998. I shared my experience by talking about my last season with the Rimouski Océanic, how difficult it was to manage the pressure.

“He also told me a bit about his game. I learned a lot about him. He is a good person who has high standards. »

Lecavalier pointed out how difficult it was to compare Wright, Slafkovsky and Cooley when the former played in the Canadian junior ranks, the second in the Finnish league and the third in the American development program.

Hughes said it will be important for the chosen player to be able to continuously improve. He did not place importance on the presence of the selected player with the Canadian from next season.

“What’s important with all of our hopes is that they reach their full potential,” Hughes said.

The ex-agent, however, admitted that Wright and Slafkovsky were likely ready to play in the NHL next season. Cooley has already expressed an interest in playing at least one season in the NCAA.

An active managing director?

Asked about several trade scenarios, Hughes admitted he was more likely to try to improve the rank of his second pick than to trade his first pick to move back.

The Canadiens also own the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick, 26e in total. In all, he has 14 speaking rights.

“We will evaluate all options. It’s possible we’ll move forward or trade picks for future years,” Hughes said.

Hughes hasn’t ruled out giving up his first overall pick if the offer is the right one, but he’s aware that it might not be the most popular decision when the event takes place at the Bell Center. .

“If the repechage took place tonight [lundi], we would use this choice, but at the same time, it is my responsibility to work for the good of the Canadiens. We will definitely be evaluating all options,” Hughes said.

in bulk

Hughes had no new information to release regarding goaltender Carey Price’s condition.

He also said no decision has been made regarding defenseman Kaiden Guhle’s participation in the World Junior Championship in August in Edmonton.

Hughes said head coach Martin St-Louis has already begun the process of finding a new assistant to replace Luke Richardson, who was named head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.

He also returned to the Jeff Petry case, repeating that he would trade the American defender if the offer was good. Hughes also said it was possible that Petry could return to the Canadiens next season and that his family could join him again in Montreal.

Finally, Hughes claimed that defender Alexander Romanov was due to return to North America this week and was closely watched by the Canadian, as was forward Evgenii Dadonov, especially after goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov was forcibly sent off. to military service.

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