Kent Hughes and Vincent Lecavalier would not have had to meet the media yesterday if Connor Bedard had been eligible for the next draft. But Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley don't deserve to be discredited for all that.
These are the three players that the Canadian has targeted as candidates for the first choice of the draft. Hughes did not name Cooley, but he is identified by most scouts as one of the three best players available.
The Habs general manager was probably telling the truth when he said that he had not made his choice.
He wouldn't have identified him either if he had, when he spoke to us yesterday afternoon in Brossard. It will keep the surprise for the amateurs who will be present at the Bell Center on Thursday evening, and for the others who will be riveted in front of their television.
What a scenario that would be!
But what if Hughes landed a bang for his first draft as GM?
Why not try to get the first choice of the New Jersey Devils, who choose after CH, to do a double blow?
Hughes has contracts on his payroll that he would probably like to get rid of and a multitude of draft picks.
Wright and Cooley being centers, the Habs could draft either one and Slafkovsky.
Imagine the reaction joy it would create at the Bell Centre.
That would be crazy!
Open to everything
Is there a chance that Hughes could get the Devils' first pick?
“It's as possible that we trade for the second pick as we trade our first pick. We're open to anything,” he replied to my question.
At the end of the game, the journalists were trying to guess which player the Canadian might be interested in.
There was a tendency to think that it could be Wright.
The usefulness of Lecavalier
Lecavalier, who was the first choice of the 1998 class, spoke on the phone with Wright to find out how he felt in the shoes of the first player listed.
It was good quality.
As Hughes said, being the No. 1 draft pick and being picked No. 1 by the Canadiens are two things. It adds additional pressure for the youngster who arrives in Montreal
But Lecavalier experienced a bit the same thing when he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A billionaire named Art Williams, who made his fortune in the insurance world, had given him the label of the Michael Jordan of hockey.
Jacques Demers, who combined the functions of general manager and coach, was in good shape!
“I wouldn't say that this event went over my head. But I was really lucky to have Jacques by my side,” said Lecavalier.
“Without saying that he had lowered expectations of me, he told me that I was going to be protected. He didn't put any pressure on me. I started on a third line and continued my development.
“Jacques made my experience amazing.”
A good tutor en St-Louis
Martin St-Louis wants to be a good man to lead the player that his bosses will select as the top of the class. He will know how to put him at ease and help him adapt well to his new environment.
So, barring any happy surprises, don't expect the young prospect who will report to training camp in September to turn Montreal upside down anytime soon.
The McDavids, Matthews or MacKinnon do not run the streets and Wright had a season below expectations. His value has gone down in the eyes of many recruiters.
Has not having played in 2020-2021 hurt his progress?
“It may be a factor, but he played in a league [Ontario Junior League] where most players didn't play the year before either [due to COVID-19]. 19] ,” commented Hughes.
“Without playing of the year, he could have been chosen as the best player in the World Under-18 Championship.
“We watched him at age 15 [he had been granted a bye from the OHL]. I've seen him at the U17 World Cup in Medicine Hat, the Canada Games and the Top Prospects Invitational Tournament. p>
It means that Hughes has seen Wright on his radar for a long time.
The young man may be a little breathless at having been the subject of so much attention. But that doesn't mean he's not ready to take it to the next level.