Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes was asked recently about the process and timeline of the rebuild in Montreal. Noting that it’s not always easy to put a date on when the team will be competitive versus being a team that is still shaping itself as part of a rebuild and retool, Hughes noted there were many factors involved, but that his plan included trades more than it did the NHL Draft.
Good teams will find useful players at the NHL Entry Draft. Those players often move on to become stars and the cornerstones of any good franchise. When a club is rebuilding, the draft is essential as high picks tend to take priority over useful players. For the Canadiens, Hughes isn’t going to rely solely on those picks to build his team. In fact, he notes he might prioritize deals with other clubs to move picks for useful players.
When speaking with Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Rishaug of the Got Yer’ Back podcast, Hughes said he doesn’t just look at how good his team is or will be, but how good they are compared to other stronger teams in their division. After all, the Canadiens will need to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins if they ever hope to win a Stanley Cup. He noted his plan is to use trades versus the draft to help speed up the process. “I think it’s going to be another two, three years … but again, we’re hopeful we have opportunities to trade for good, young players like a Kirby Dach, instead of using a draft pick for it,” he said.
Canadiens Should Be Busy
If Hughes’ plan is to use trades as much as he uses the draft to find players, it seems clear that he’ll be looking for opportunities with other teams to take advantage of their cap situations and pick up players with some salary. Those assets, along with some smart draft choices could make the Canadiens and stronger team much more quickly than a club going through a typical rebuild.
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