Having traded away their number one pick in this year’s draft to the New York Islanders, the Canadiens will have a simple plan on draft day; Draft the best player available. Without a number one pick the Habs are aware that any player drafted from the second round on will take several years to develop. This being said, it would be unwise to draft a player in order to fill a hole in your roster, as that hole is unlikely to exist by the time that player is ready for the NHL.
Currently the Habs need depth at center. Yet those holes will likely be filled within the next 2 years, as they have two solid prospects at center with Eric Chouinard and Mike Ribeiro. They are deep in Goaltending at the moment with Jose Theodore and Mathieu Garon toiling in the minors. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Habs’ management won’t take a look at Maxime Ouellete if he’s still available come the second round. Another need is offensive depth on the wings.
The Habs have not drafted a defenseman in the first two rounds since 1995, when they drafted Miloslav Guren in the second round. They have chosen a player from Quebec in one of the first two rounds every year since 1996. Last year they used there first 3 picks to choose players from Quebec; Chouinard in the first round, Ribeiro in the second round and Francios Beauchemin in the third round. This last trend could be by chance, but is more likely by design.
On draft day, look for the Habs to draft the most talented player available when their pick comes up. Recent trends dictate to be surprised if that player is a defenseman. But, not to be surprised if that player is from the QMJHL.