Back in 2016, the Habs did something that the draft that on its own was largely meaningless. But it started a pattern and the results of that are actually pretty interesting.
Near the end of the 2016 draft, the Habs dealt their 2017 seventh-round pick to Winnipeg to get into the round and they used that selection on Arvid Henrikson, a player that was identified as a sleeper. Considering his progression so far (or lack thereof), it’s safe to say this one isn’t going to pan out. He’ll be heading into next season hoping to move out of the 6/7 role with Lake Superior State which isn’t ideal for someone who will be entering their fifth year after being drafted.
But missing on that one (something that was obviously fairly quickly), the Habs haven’t shied away from that strategy and the recent results have been more promising. They’ve also found a willing trade partner to these moves with as three years in a row, they’ve made swaps with the Flyers. Here is a quick look at those moves.
2017: Traded their 2018 seventh-rounder for the pick used to select Cayden Primeau. The goaltender has quickly become one of Montreal’s top prospects and had a pretty good rookie season including a pair of pretty good performances with the Canadiens. As things stand, he’s their goalie of the future.
2018: Traded their 2019 seventh-rounder for the pick they originally gave up to get Primeau. With that selection, they picked Brett Stapley. I wasn’t a big fan of this pick at the time but he’s making my early comments look bad. After a solid freshman year at Denver, he picked up 30 points in 35 games this season and is certainly a prospect on the rise.
2019: Traded their 2020 seventh-rounder for the pick they originally gave up to get Stapley. They picked Rafael Harvey-Pinard with that selection, a player in his third time through the draft. It’s pretty early to read too much into this one but he has been an effective junior player and will likely see some time in Laval next season. Merely getting to the AHL level is a challenge for a lot of players picked in this round.
At the end of the day, the Habs acquired Henrikson, Primeau, Stapley, and Harvey-Pinard for a 2020 seventh-round pick. That’s a pretty nice piece of business by not only Bergevin but Montreal’s scouting staff for finding some decent prospects with those picks (well, aside from Henrikson).
Last June, Bergevin included the pick swap as part of the Andrew Shaw trade with Chicago with Montreal parting with their 2021 seventh-rounder to get the Blackhawks’ 2020 seventh. That means that the Habs have effectively made this move already for the 2020 draft (whenever it eventually is held) so the trend will continue for at least another year unless that picks get moved between now and then. It’s hard to put any raised expectations on that selection but if recent history is any indication, whoever they get could be an intriguing prospect.