Thursday, 7 June 2012

Should the Canadiens trade up or trade down at the 2012 NHL draft?

If a regular, average guy with a family and job and mortgage ever comes into a $100 000 windfall, his best bet is usually to invest it, pay down his mortgage, that kind of deal. The right move is never to go to Vegas and try to double it; if he's a dumbass and tries it and is successful, he's still made the wrong decision.

The Canadiens are in a great position with the #3 spot in the draft, it’s our version of the windfall. They are guaranteed one of three elite forwards in either Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk or Mikhail Grigorenko. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Murray are good fallback options based on the scouting reports.
As such, there is no need for the Canadiens to trade up. The cost does not justify the potential gain. We don’t have a wealth of assets that we can spend in this manner. We have gone years without having a second round pick. The shelf is bare in Hamilton. We don’t have organizational depth, we can’t afford to squander assets on getting ‘our guy’ when we’re assured of a very high quality prospect as it is.
Also, this isn’t the same situation as 2010 with the Taylor-Tyler duo. If you had the #3 or 4 pick then, you might decide that either of those players was so much better than the player you might end up with instead in your own slot that trading up made sense. Not in our case, not with the putative Top 3 forwards.
We can also consider the option of trading down, to add assets, if Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk go 1-2 and we think we can snag Mikhail Grigorenko at #5 or 6. Trouble is, while there have been unflattering reports about the latter during the season, he didn’t fall all that far in the final rankings. He’s even ranked #2 by ISS, and #3 by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters. Some teams may have him lower than that, Craig Button certainly does, but you can’t bank on him being guaranteed to be there even at #5. Fallback options that were batted around mid-season such as Radek Faksa or Brendan Gaunce are clearly being seen as a notch or three below the top 3 forwards, so they shouldn’t be seriously considered and trading down shouldn’t be an option unless we get an offer that blows us away.
I’ve been impressed with the arguments that at the top end of the draft, it makes more sense to pick an elite forward than a defenceman. History shows that All-Star and scoring champion forwards come from the very top of the draft, whereas Norris Trophy winners can be found in the second round or later. So I do think we should take one of the Top 3 forwards, although if Trevor Timmins and his team think Ryan Murray is the next Scott Niedermayer, then I have to trust their work and expertise.
So again, we can sit tight on June 22, wait for our turn and pick the best available player.

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