No travel delays getting to Montreal and based on the videos and pictures I’ve seen from some airports, I consider today a big win. Well, other than waiting 40 minutes for Tyler Yaremchuk’s checked baggage, but he did pay for the cab to the hotel. Small victories.
Not surprising Montreal is buzzing about the draft. There is signage at many hotels, some staff are wearing 2022 NHL draft swag and the minute you mention the draft they all want to know what the Canadiens are going to do with the #1 overall pick. The uncertainty is great. I think it adds intrigue.
I love being in a hockey-crazed market for the draft. Montreal is a legit hockey city. The gym at my hotel had these two limited edition signed seats of Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy.
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There is a great vibe in Montreal, and the fact they have the first pick really adds to it.
It is rare for the host team to be picking first, or even in the top five. I do remember some buzz at the 2013 draft when New Jersey traded the 9th pick to Vancouver in exchange for Cory Schneider. The Canucks selected Bo Horvat. In 2012 when Pittsburgh traded Jordan Stall to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the 8th overall pick. They selected Derrick Pouliot.
In 2004 Carolina hosted and they moved up from #8 to #4 and selected Andrew Ladd. They traded the 8th and 59th pick to Columbus to move up four spots.
The last host team to pick first overall was the 1985 Toronto Maple Leafs. They selected Wendel Clark, who went on to become a huge fan favourite, but the hype and build up in 1985 wasn’t close to how it is today.
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TEN QUICK QUESTIONS…

1. What will Montreal do with the #1 pick?
The rumours are flying around. There are many different scenarios, including Montreal trying to acquire the #2 pick from New Jersey so they can have the top two selections and take Juraj Slafkovsky and Shane Wright. Montreal owns the 26th and 33rd picks, and many in Montreal are suggesting they package those two picks along and possibly Josh Anderson and I’ve even heard Kaiden Guhle’s name. That seems like a lot to acquire the 2nd pick in a draft that doesn’t have a projected superstar. If the Habs actually offered that much, the trade would already be announced as the Devils would have called the NHL office instantly. Moving down from #2 to #26 is a big drop, but I wouldn’t give up Anderson, Guhle and two picks.
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I think Montreal will pick #1 and take Slafkovsky. (I like chaos). What do you think they do?
2. Does Alex DeBrincat get moved?
I always get excited about deals and then they don’t happen, but we’ve already seen Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Fiala moved. I think the Blackhawks will be aggressive and they move him.
3. Will Jesse Puljujarvi get dealt before the end of the draft?
I’d be stunned if Ken Holland trades him for a draft pick or picks. There might be picks involved as part of the package, but if Holland deals him he will want an NHL player in return. I don’t think he gets moved at the draft.
4. Which player gets selected higher than the draft projections expect?
When Detroit choose Moritz Seider 6th overall in 2019, many felt it was a “reach.” Clearly, it wasn’t. Seider won the Calder this season and has all the tools to be an elite D-man for the 15 seasons. I have two players I think could go higher than projected. Defenceman Kevin Korchinski from Seattle and hulking Swedish defender Lian Bischel.
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5. Will a top-five pick be traded?
If Montreal selects Slafkovsky, then we could see some moves. The New Jersey Devils might opt to take a D-man or trade down, and if they take a D-man, then others might want to trade up to grab either Shane Wright or Logan Cooley. The last time two teams traded top-five picks was in 2002 when Florida and Columbus swapped picks. Florida traded down from first to third, even though they had to trade two mid-round picks to Atlanta not to take Bouwmeester. Why they didn’t just take him #1 overall still baffles me. But I digress.
I do think a top-five pick will be dealt.
6. What will the Winnipeg Jets do?
The Jets hired Rick Bowness as their head coach last week, and I’m sure he’s spoken to veterans to get a sense of where they are at. Will it be enough to calm the trade rumours in Winnipeg? I doubt it. I think Blake Wheeler gets moved.
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7. How many picks will Arizona acquire?
GM Bill Armstrong has said openly he is open to taking on salary and acquiring more draft picks. I think they will do that, but also they will trade Jakob ChychrunHe said he didn’t want another year of being on a team more focused on the future than the present. He gets his wish and is moved.
Currently, the Coyotes have 10 draft picks, including seven in the first two rounds. The Coyotes end up with 12 picks.
8. How many NHL defenceman get moved before the end of the 2022 draft on Friday?
Frank Seravalli had his top-30 trade targets last week and there are many D-men on the list including Tyson Barrie, John Marino, Tony DeAngelo (RFA), Alec Martinez and Jeff Petry. My wildcard name I will add is Brent Burns. It might be too much to see him moved in the first 72 hours of new GM Mike Grier’s tenure, but the Sharks need to re-tool and Burns can still play. He’s also a huge positive personality that endears him to his teammates.
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I think three legit NHL defenders are dealt by Friday.
9. Will Lou make a splash?
The New York Islanders were the biggest disappointment in the NHL this past year. After two consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, and losses to Tampa, many expected the Islanders to be a contender again this year, but it didn’t happen. COVID played a role, to an extent, but the Islanders couldn’t score. They finished 7th in goals against/game, and Ilya Sorokin is a top-five goalie, but they were 23rd offensively. They need to add some offensive punch.
Can Anthony Beauvillier rebound after a 12-goal, 34-point season, or will he be used as trade bait? Lamoriello made a brutal trade a few days after the 2020 draft, when he dealt Devin Toews to Colorado for second round picks in 2021 and 2022. He can’t make up for that deal, but he needs to tweak his roster. But will it happen this week?
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10. Will any changes come from GM meetings?
The GMs meet tomorrow afternoon. There aren’t any glaring issues, but I’m sure the Nazem Kadri OT goal will be discussed. Is there an appetite to crack down on “loose” line changes? Will the NHL look to crack down on hits from behind (especially into the boards) like they did headshots? They should, just like they should either start games at the scheduled time on the NHL website or switch start times to the actual time.
I’m sure Gary Bettman will state their start times are always on time, despite the fact that it doesn’t actually happen on game days.

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