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A few weeks ago, the Habs were hanging around the playoff picture before their recent struggles.  At that point, it looked possible that they’d have a draft pick that could fall outside the top ten.  A strong stretch could put them back in that territory while it’s also quite possible that Florida’s first-rounder, which they also hold, could be in that range.

Many experts have released preliminary rankings, so we have a first look at some potential future reinforcements. While many fans are already well versed on the top of the draft due to expectations they had for the season, I imagine some of the names below are new for many Habs fans, so let’s dive right into three options suggested near the back of the lottery in the rankings published so far. 

Riley Heidt, C

Shoots: L
DOB: March 25, 2005
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 180 lbs 


Daily Faceoff: 14
McKeen’s Hockey: 17
Future Considerations: 15
Sportsnet: 15
TSN (Button): 18
MyNHLDraft: 17
Recruit: 20
Dobber: 11

Scouting Report

34 points in 21 games for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. It’s not as interesting as Cristall listed below, but Heidt is playing the centre position and therefore has far more responsibilities to handle all over the ice. For what it’s worth, Heidt and Cristall went 2nd and 8th respectively in the same year of the WHL draft, so the pedigree leans toward Heidt as well. 

Size and consistency appear to be the knocks on Heidt, while his intelligence and playmaking abilities are the strong points. Not sure it’s a fantastic fit for the Habs, but he’s an intriguing consideration nonetheless. 

Mikhail Gulyayev, D

Shoots: L
DOB: April 26, 2005
Height: 5’10″
Weight: 170 lbs


Daily Faceoff: 21
McKeen’s Hockey: 20
Future Considerations: 12
Sportsnet: 17
TSN (Button): 20
MyNHLDraft: 16
Recruit: 13
Dobber: 11

Scouting Report 

There are many reasons to dismiss this selection. He’s in Russia, playing in the MHL, he’s similar to Lane Hutson and plays the left side where the Habs are not in need at all. I get not drafting for need, but there are simply too many elements that don’t make sense with this pick. 

Having said that, Gulyayev is an offensive dynamo that is shifty on his skates and defends better than many with his size and offensive prioritizations. He’s scored 16 points in just 10 games in the MHL so far this season but has also spent some time in the VHL and KHL with less impressive results. In a draft that is seemingly lacking on blue liners, Gulyayev will likely go sooner than anticipated, I still don’t see the Habs being that interested in this player, though I’ve seen some scouts be much higher on him than I am. 

Andrew Cristall, LW

Shoots: L
DOB: February 4, 2005
Height: 5’10″
Weight: 165 lbs 


Daily Faceoff: 15
McKeen’s Hockey: 14
Future Considerations: 22
Sportsnet: not ranked
TSN (Button): 16
MyNHLDraft: 13
Recruit: 11
Dobber: 6

Scouting Report 

It’s been a good to great draft year for Cristall as he’s been scoring at a 2pts/game pace counting 60 points (24G, 36A) in 34 games played with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Much like Cole Caufield, the knock against Cristall appears to be his size despite the fact he is combative on the puck and has simply scored everywhere he has played. Unlike Caufield, Cristall’s shot is not listed as a strength, though his overall IQ and vision on the ice are the selling point. My main question with this prospect is that it’s really not an area of need on the team and not a position that holds a ton of value around the league. That being said, going from a pure “best player available” lens, this would be my pick among the three featured here. There simply isn’t a whole lot the kid isn’t doing on the ice, and I think when Hughes speaks of projectability and having a game that translates to the pros, Cristall might be a guy who slips and teams regret passing on later on.


With the Habs trying to revamp the organization with youth, I think picking outside the top ten is not ideal despite the multiple reports of a very deep draft. The three selections above sure aren’t as mouth-watering as some of the others that were analyzed before the season started. However, they’d still be important pieces of the rebuild should one of Montreal’s selections fall within this range.