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As we get closer to the top and into the top 10, this is where things get interesting for Montreal fans. While unlikely to pick in the 10-16 section of this year’s draft, there’s always movement in the picks to consider, so some players featured below might be of real interest to the Habs, whether that comes from trading down, trading up, or simply having a player drop onto their lap at 26. 

Here are links to the previously published prospects rankings in this series of articles: 

Second round
Picks 17-24
Picks 25-32 

#9 – Cole Eiserman 

USNTDP Juniors (USHL) – LW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 2 Midseason – 2 

What happens when you listen to the noise around you a bit too much heading into your draft season? You work on your defensive game, cost yourself some draft ranks and likely end up the 2024 version of Cole Caufield who slipped but ended up making many teams foolish for not taking him sooner. I believe this will be the case with Eiserman who was a consensus #2 behind Celebrini heading into the season as he was poised to challenge Phil Kessel and Caufield as one of the most prolific scorers in American Junior history. Instead, he finds himself at nine. 

After scoring 69 goals last season, Eiserman scored 89 points (58 goals) in 57 games at the U18 level. He also scored 34 points (25 goals) in 24 USHL games. The goal scoring ability is still there, but Eiserman is now ranked 9th. 

I don’t think the Habs are looking at Eiserman with the 5th overall pick. I’m not sure I agree. So, the kid desired to round out his game and it cost him a bit of offence. Are the Habs in the market for a safe well-rounded pick or for some offensive talent? I get that he won’t be picked at five, and many are saying the Habs should try to trade into this area in the draft to get Bennett Sennecke on top of their fifth pick. I say the Habs should try to trade into this area in the draft to get Eiserman on top of their fifth pick. 

#10 – Zayne Parekh 

Saginaw Spirit (OHL) – RD 

Previous Rankings: Start – 10 Midseason – 13 

Parekh is an offensive wizard, as he skates well and is a king of deception with the puck on his stick. He’s got an excellent shot that allows him to score at will at the Junior level. He has an elite sense of the game offensively but doesn’t always give it his all defensively. 

A jaw-dropping 96 points in 66 games in the OHL for Parekh has him ranked much higher than this in some rankings. Parekh is electric offensively as he scored 21 goals as a 16-year-old blueliner last season. I’m betting he ends up in the top-10, all he needs is one team to love the offensive profile. 

An interesting prospect, but I think the Habs have this player lined up on the left side in Lane Hutson. Pass for me. 

#11 – Anton Silayev 

Torpedo Nizhny Novogorod (KHL) – LD  

Previous Rankings: Start – 14 Midseason – 9  

This is easily one of the most volatile selections in this year’s draft. Some rankings have him top-five, others don’t have until the later teens. I think this is about where he goes as at least one team will decide that they are passing up some offence to get their hands on a 6’7 blueliner who has a plus-rated skating ability. He played regular minutes on one of the better teams in the KHL (8th place team in 23 team league). The skill is very raw, but he plays with an aggressive edge while maintaining power play minutes in the KHL. He needs work with consistency issues, but the potential will be very real for a long line of NHL teams come the draft. 

11 points in 63 games in the KHL does little to explain the rise for Silayev, the shots and minutes playing in a premier league as a smooth-skating giant with a physical edge is where it’s at here. 

Positionally, this player makes little sense for the Habs. The temptation might still be there. It would be a discouraging pick for the fan base, but if he turns into the next Chara, it’ll be hard to fault the organization for taking the swing at the pick.  

#12 – Konsta Helenius 

Jukurit (Liiga) – C/RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 7 Midseason – 7 

The biggest issue that forced Helenius down five spots is that he makes the safe play and he is generally a high floor player rather than a high ceiling player. The teams that pick high ceiling and have players not reach said ceiling are likely to regret passing on Helenius, as the player understands the game on an elite level while also scoring with a sneaky strong shot. Strong skating and a desire to get to the tough areas to make plays are all part of his arsenal. His ability to do the latter on the small ice against bigger competition are the only questions around this player. 

36 points in 51 games in the Liiga is quite impressive as Helenius is already showing that he can produce while playing against men. 

Much like Berkly Catton who will be featured in the next article, I really like this player while still preferring the Habs to go with a finisher of plays if one is available. 

#13 – Carter Yakemchuk 

Calgary Hitmen (WHL) – RD 

Previous Rankings: Start – 18 Midseason – 19 

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 194lbs) and remain this aggressive and talented with the puck should be an easy sell for NHL teams. Despite finding himself at 13th on this list, some believe he has the highest offensive ceiling in this whole draft. The odds of him reaching said ceiling is more what pushes him down to this spot.  

71 points in 66 games is pretty darn good for a blue liner with his physical attributes. The 120 PIMS in those games aren’t terrible either. 

Most people don’t see the Habs going after a defenceman at this year’s draft. Yakemchuk has also moved up to the point where if he were a potential target, it’s unlikely they can move up enough to really get him. He would be an adequate fit should he fall a bit and the Canadiens wanted to move up to the middle of the round, but that seems unlikely. 

#14 – Michael Brandsegg-Nygard 

Mora IK (HockeyAllsvenskan) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 12 Mid-Season – 12 

Brandsegg-Nygard is set to be the highest drafted Norwegian player of all-time. He’s a forechecking menace with scoring ability known for his 200-foot game. The scoring stats are somewhat puzzling for a player ranked this high as he scored 18 points in 41 games in the Men’s league. He’s known for his heavy shot and needs to improve his ability to use his frame and get physical. 

While the 18 points in 41 games doesn’t jump off the page, it is worth mentioning that he jumps to 12 points in seven games when facing peers his own age. 

I don’t think this is a player that fits what Montreal is looking for, but he’s pretty much out of range for them anyways at this point, so it would be surprising if they ended up with this player. 

#15 – Beckett Sennecke 

Oshawa Generals (OHL) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 20 Midseason – 26  

A big winger who skates well and thinks the game at a high level. The knock on his game is that he tends to fall into patterns and therefore become a bit predictable. He also has much work to put in on the defensive parts of the game, but that isn’t rare in junior players that have been in offensive roles. Sennecke really took an important step forward when Calum Ritchie got injured and Sennecke was asked to carry the load offensively for the Generals. Can he sustain that type of play for more than 20 or so games? 

68 points in 63 games for the 6’2 winger who really found a strong game to end his season. The question is if he can follow that type of pace at the next level. 

I know I’m going to be criticized for having him near the mid-round, but this is where he belongs. He is a high ceiling player with a low floor. For those following along for the last few seasons, you correctly point out that this is the type of player I usually want the Habs to take more risks on, and if they were picking in the 9-12 range, I’d be all over this pick. I just think they would be needlessly leaving more skill and ceiling on the table for a player that is risky and has a much lower floor, and for that reason, I am all the way out on this player for the Habs. 

#16 – Adam Jiricek 

HC Plzen (Czechia) – RD 

Previous Rankings: Start – 8 Midseason – 10 

This ranking is a significant drop for Jiricek who was considered alongside the top defenders of this draft to start the season. Recency bias being what it is, Jiricek could be an absolute steal of a pick this late in the round, but injury issues really derailed the 2023-24 campaign for Jiricek who had knee surgery and missed most of the high profile showcases available to him in his draft year. On the ice, he remains a mobile player that is strong in defending rush chances. Jiricek adds to that strong skating and a good first pass. He does not boast the impact of his older brother but remains a solid prospect in that he makes good decisions with the puck and can shoot hard and accurately from the point. 

One point in 19 games and a minus-10 rating. It’s not a great follow-up to his 29 points in 41 games with the Plzen U20 club last season.  

Players like Jiricek being available at this rank is one of the many reasons I still don’t understand the need to draft how they did last season. They could have picked a forward last year, and then everyone would be open to them drafting a solid D now and make a deal to land another in Jiricek. As it stands, I like this pick, but I can’t see how the Habs can take him even if they were to complete a trade and select in this general area of the draft.