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As we explore the final eight picks that made the cut into the first round, I think these are some very interesting names. The Habs are picking in this group at 26, and should they make the pick, many of these names are potential options for them. Another thing to remember with a ranking like this is that we’re now at the stage where a player slipping can easily catch momentum and go on for a while. Remember that Lane Hutson was a borderline first rounder on many lists before the Habs found the buried treasure late in the second round. With the Canadiens not picking until 57 after their number 26 selection, might one of these names become a diamond in the rough if they fall all the way to 57? 

Here is a link to the projected second-round prospects: 

Round 2

#25 – Nikita Artamonov 

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 37 Midseason – 23 

When Artamonov was initially called up to the KHL, he went on a scoring spree that got scouts to notice him. This streak explains the jump from 37 to 23 by midseason. What was ultimately discovered was a player that forechecks relentlessly yet does so intelligently. This is why playing with better players made him better, and why he quickly gained his coach’s confidence. Despite his production returning to normal in the second half of the season, Artamonov remained a play driver while on the ice, one who was excellent in all three zones. He ended the season with 23 points in 54 games which is respectable in the KHL. 

This is not a sexy pick but should the Habs be lucky enough to get their hands on Ivan Demidov, adding a safe and solid pick from the same country to accompany him might not be the worst idea ever. Artamonov does not appear to be a big home run swing, but he would check off quite a few boxes for the Habs with his style of play. 

#26 – Aron Kiviharju 

HIFK (Liiga) – LD 

Previous Rankings: Start – 9 Midseason – 22 

There are a few reasons for Kiviharju’s fall in rank. To start, it was an injury-filled season that saw him only play seven games. Tough to evaluate a player you can’t see play or progress. Second, teams tend to value the right-handed defenders more, and size more. Kiviharju is under six feet and a lefty. Despite these facts, Kiviharju remains 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. Might a team be able to cash in on the lost year and find a player that is much better than his current ranking? 

Easy pass here as the fall-off only comes in as the second factor with him being a LD as the first. The Habs are set at this position for years. So much so that even if Kiviharju gets back on track, the Habs will have a hard time finding him enough significant ice time for him to catch up in development. 

#27 – EJ Emery 


Previous Rankings: Start – 31 Midseason – 35 

Much like Jordan Harris, Emery is known for being a bit of a Swiss army knife as a defender. He’s really good at just about everything with his intelligence in all of these facets really being the standout tool at his disposal. Now, how high would Harris have been drafted if he was 6’3’’ and just a bit more capable of using that frame when he wants to get physical? I guess we are about to find out. 

For the Habs, this would be an intelligent pick if they were able to secure some firepower with their top pick. In Emery, they would find a potential long-term partner for Hutson who might be able to skate with him. A little more like Filip Hronek with Quinn Hughes. Reinbacher might still hold that spot for now, but drafting more than one potential player to make sure one gets there makes sense. And if it is Reinbacher’s spot, Emery will be a great fit to be on a shut-down pairing with Guhle. The fits are multiple with this player on the Habs. 

#28 – Terik Parascak 

Prince George Cougars (WHL) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 46 Midseason – 34 

This season was Parascak’s first in the WHL and he exploded for 105 points in 68 games. He’s an offensive wizard who attacks the net, creates great plays, and still holds an excellent shot despite his smaller stature at 5’11’ and 180 lbs. He needs some work defensively and needs to catch up physically, but those are easier to work on than pure raw offensive ability. 

I really like Emery to round out that blue line for the Habs with the 26th pick. Otherwise, I want to see an offensive home run swing and Parascak might be that swing. The tools he already possesses are the ones that are the hardest to teach. His weaknesses are the easiest, so it becomes a question of willingness to put in the time and effort to develop those attributes. I imagine where he ultimately ends up being selected will depend heavily on how he did in off-ice sessions with teams at the combine. 

#29 – Jett Luchanko 

Guelph Storm (OHL) – C 

Previous Rankings: Start – N/A Midseason – 41 

Luchanko finds his way into a first-round position after picking up 74 points in 68 games as a sophomore. While that doesn’t seem like a stat that jumps off the page, it is worth considering that Luchanko is said to have improved massively in every single category imaginable, capping it off with a monster showing at the combine where he ranked near the top of multiple categories. This is a pick for a team looking for a depth piece that can contribute over 200 feet more than an offensive home run swing. The interesting thing is that Luchanko has already handled criticism of his game very well and turned question marks into strengths over one season. So, he’s a definite candidate for developing past his perceived ceiling. 

This seems like a very Owen Beck type of pick. I like the idea of a guy who’s already shown an impressive work ethic to address perceived weaknesses to his game. Is he a must-have for the Habs? No, I think I prefer Emery and Parascak on this list, but he’s not a terrible pick either. 

#30 – Cole Hutson 


Previous Rankings: Start – 15 Midseason – 27 

Much like his brother Lane, the questions around his offence are little. His edge work is excellent as he evades checks to create offence. In fact, it is believed that Cole might be more of a natural talent than his brother. But Lane is said to be a harder worker to improve his overall game. Cole’s defensive work leaves much to be desired at this stage, and his size remains a big question mark even if he’s a little bigger than Lane.  

51 points in 51 games with the U18 team is quite excellent. The stats aren’t the problem and won’t be the factor that truly determines where he eventually gets selected. 

Montreal drafting the brother Hutson? Listen, I get the charm of it, but this simply makes no sense. The role he’d be trying to fill should be filled for many years to come by his brother. I can’t see the Habs using their pick here. Let’s be honest, they also passed on Lane twice and someone will take a chance on Cole earlier than 62 thanks to Lane making them all regret skipping a Hutson a few seasons ago. 

#31 – Charlie Elick  

Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – RD 

Previous Rankings: Start – 19 Midseason – 42 

Elick is a big Western boy who excels at angling the opposition before punishing them physically. He’s excellent in front of his own net and is a surprisingly strong skater for his player profile. He does not have a great shot, nor does he really have a strong offensive instinct. He’s going to be a player, but he’s more of a stay-at-home type defender. 

Four goals and 27 points for Elick and while this production hurt his stock, I’m not sure it was ever getting any higher considering the blueline depth in this draft class. The production isn’t where this player is going to help an NHL team anyways. 

I don’t think Elick is a great option for the Habs. Kent Hughes has been clear about wanting defenders that can move the puck and Elick needs a ton of work on that aspect. If the Habs want this type of defender and want him on the right side, I highlighted Dominik Badinka as an option, and I’d rather see them reach at 26 (since their next pick is 57) to grab Badinka than take a player that doesn’t really match the team’s overall philosophy of play. Seems like a waste for both the player and team. 

#32 – Cole Beaudoin  

Barrie Colts (OHL) – C 

Previous Rankings: Start – 34 Mid-Season – 53 

After the 2022-23 rookie season, Beaudoin found his stride at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and carried that throughout his draft-eligible season where his shot looked stronger, and he was one of Barrie’s best players aided by strong playmaking abilities. A strong forechecking presence aids all these tools. He’s got a strong 200-foot game too, so just with that and his shot, he should be able to carve out a role for himself at the NHL level. 

62 points in 68 games for Beaudoin is a drastic improvement over his 20 points in as many games last season. A bigger role and a year of experience are mostly to blame for that production increase.  

I don’t think this player will interest the Habs. They have Owen Beck that should fill that role over the next few seasons, and Evans can remain in this current role if Beck doesn’t work out. I don’t see what Beaudoin could really add to the current group of Habs forwards.