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The next eight picks are perhaps the biggest dead zone for the Habs as they are likely to finish too low to select in this group unless Winnipeg slides a bit down the stretch.  However, seeing players fall down their projected rankings at the draft isn’t a rare concept, so the Canadiens exploring these prospects is still an exercise that holds value for both that Winnipeg selection or even an early second-round pick if the Habs are able to secure one early in the round; they only hold Colorado’s at this point.

Previous Rankings:

Second Round

#24 – Henry Mews 

Ottawa 67’s (OHL) – RD 

Preseason rank: 12 

Mews is average in size and a two-way defender who plays it safe a bit too often. Scouts really thought there would be a bigger increase in production, but Mews is responsible. He does not activate nearly as much as he should which has cost him some production. The skill is there, it just needs to be used more often, but since it isn’t, is it being developed? 

40 points in 44 games for Mews is decent, but as noted, it could be even better if he activated more frequently.

Another RHD, but one that reminds me a little of a mini Kaiden Guhle. I wonder, if given the chance to pick a little later in the round with the Jets’ selection that the Habs don’t find value in a pick that has frustrated some scouts. Here, the Canadiens would be betting their development team can work with the player and create a near top-10 value with a pick late in the round. So long as they first with their first-rounder, I wouldn’t hate the idea of adding Mews here.

#23 – Nikita Artamonov 

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL) – RW 

Preseason rank: 37 

A relentless forechecker who constantly attacks the puck in an intelligent way has seen his production increase with his call-up to the KHL which explains his rise in the draft ranks. He is highly skilled, but he is so smart in how he deploys his skill that he’s gotten more production from playing with better players. In fact, in pre-draft statistics, only two players are ahead of Artamonov in the history of the KHL: Vladimir Tarasenko and Matvei Michkov. 

19 points in 46 KHL games is excellent for a D-1 season. The risk is that it’s a hot streak. As mentioned, he only scored 29 in 41 MHL games last season. 

The skill appears to be there, but many question marks remain. I’m not in love with the sudden spike in production in a “contract year”. I want a real home run swing for the Habs and others provide that more definitely in this area of the draft.

#22 – Aron Kiviharju 

HIFK (Liiga) – LD 

Preseason rank: 9 

A dynamic passer who can skate like the wind, Kiviharju is described as a player with IQ to spare. His ability to make plays under pressure is praised, but early injuries and struggles adjusting to the pros in Europe have allowed others to pass him in a D-heavy draft class. 

He’s got two points in seven Liiga games and another two points in six U20 games. That being said, it is hard to find offensive consistency when battling injuries and not playing consistently. 

This is an easy pass here as the fall-off only comes in as the second factor with him being a left-shot defenceman as the first. The Canadiens are set at this spot for years. So much so that even if Kiviharju gets back on track and finds himself in the top 10, I’d still pass if I were them.

#21 – Emil Hemming 

TPS (Liiga) – RW 

Preseason rank: 22 

A tall and rangy player here as the winger finds himself later in the round in most rankings, but a few see him much higher which likely skewed the results. His shot is his calling card, but rarely opts for the pass, so with scouting, he’s become predictable to the opposition. Something he’ll need to work on to find success at the next level.

11 points in 34 Liiga isn’t anything to get excited over, but he had scored 15 points in eight U20 games before the move to the men’s league. He was a depth player for the Finns at the WJC, and that’s what I’m seeing at the next level, too. 

This is a pass for me for the Habs. Sure, he’s got size, but the offensive potential appears to be limited which is precisely what Montreal doesn’t need.

#20 – Sacha Boisvert 

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) – C 

Preseason rank: 30 

At 6’2″, Boisvert possesses the size that teams seek up the middle. He’s described as a player who allows a play to develop and then pounces quickly, not requiring a ton of space to complete plays. Scouts seemed mixed on his first-round potential earlier in the season, but a strong start and a lack of players up the middle pretty much guarantees that’s where he ends up. 

42 points in 39 games for the rangy pivot who is committed to North Dakota of the NCAA for the 24-25 season. 

I really like the description of the player as one that does not require much time and space to make a play. My belief is that this attribute has been the biggest flaw with the Habs’ two most recent high picks in both Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Juraj Slafkovsky. That Boisvert still has time to fill out his frame is interesting too. I think another team falls in love with the idea of drafting a centre before the Habs can get their hands on Boisvert, but I would be in favour of the pick should they somehow find themselves in a position to draft him.

#19 – Carter Yakemchuk 

Calgary Hitmen (WHL) – RD 

Preseason rank: 18 

The 6’3″ blue liner is described as skilled with the puck and possessing a mean streak. Where he falters is usually in D-zone coverage, which is rather typical of players his age. The size and aggressiveness alone will interest some teams. That he can still fill out that frame (he’s currently 194 lbs) and remain this aggressive and talented with the puck should be an easy sell for NHL teams.  

His 51 points in 46 games sure jump off the page for a blueliner with his physical attributes. The 90 penalty minutes in those games aren’t terrible either. 

I’m really hoping the Habs don’t continue their parade down RD Alley with the top pick in this year’s draft. But if they want to do so later in the round with Winnipeg’s pick and Yakemchuk remains available, I think this might be the best option for them. As of now, not only is he putting up significant numbers for a D prospect, but he’s also racking up enough penalty minutes to suggest that even if the offence doesn’t follow at the next level, the mean streak should have no problem making him an interesting prospect.

#18 – Liam Greentree 

Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – RW 

Preseason rank: 29 

A 6’2″ winger here as Greentree’s premier attribute is his hockey IQ. He thinks the game quickly and has the size and skating to back it up. His hands aren’t bad either, but it’s his brain that allows him to consistently find open space in the attacking zone. What’s the most intriguing reading up on Greentree is that there doesn’t appear to be many flaws to his game, the only one being mentioned is his tendency to force plays that aren’t there through the neutral zone. 

He’s got 66 points in 43 games in the OHL which has scouts buzzing. The jump in the ranking by 11 slots kinda demonstrates that buzz, too. 

I’m not sure how I feel about a player who didn’t really take off until given the reigns to a weaker team in his D-1 season. All the skill appears to be there, but it might re-invent itself as a bottom-six support player who can chip in offensively. Greentree is an interesting prospect, but if given the choice, I think I would select Chernyshov ahead of Greentree for the Habs.

#17 – Igor Chernyshov 

MHK Dynamo Maskva (MHL) – LW 

Preseason rank: 13 

A second 6’2″ winger in a row, but the two play a vastly different game. This one is a big physical winger with enough skill to attack defenders one-on-one, a good enough shot to score in sustained pressure situations, and enough “give-a-damn” to support teammates both with the puck and defensively. I’m surprised to see a few rankings go late round on Chernyshov as the variety of tools at his disposal would suggest he’s gone by pick 17, but the question marks appear to be consistency and ability to stop making plays that don’t work at the next level as his recent KHL stats suggest. 

That’s 24 points in 18 games at the MHL level, but only four points in 31 games in the KHL which might explain the recent drop in ranking. My question seeing the production drop-off here would be the quality of ice he’s seeing at the KHL level. 

While all KHL prospects come with a certain question mark, it is worth noting that this didn’t seem to bother the Habs last season other than one high-profile selection they decided to skip. I can’t imagine Chernyshov falling to the latter portions of the round, but should that happen, I think there are enough tools here that I’d certainly be favourable should the Habs decide to take that chance and figure out the rest later.