In just three days, the Habs will get the top pick in the NHL Entry Draft for the first time since 1980, and excitement around their potential pick is growing amid pressure to improve the team’s position.
On Monday, the organization held a pre-draft news conference to be held in Montreal on Thursday.
General manager Kent Hughes and Vincent Lacavalier have met with the media but are keeping their potential options under wraps for now.
What we do know is that they are looking closely at three players: Juraj Slafkovsky, Logan Cooley and Shane Wright.
Wright, a native of Ontario, plays in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs. He is a right-handed center back who tips the scales at 200 pounds, standing six feet one inch tall.
He is 18 years old.
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Lecavalier, who is a special adviser to the Habs, says he spoke to Wright on the phone.
“It’s been three years that people have been talking about him as the No. 1 prospect,” said Lecavalier, who was the No. 1 pick in the draft in 1998. “It was about understanding how he was dealing with it.”
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Last year, the Habs selected another Ontario native as their first-round pick: Logan Mailloux.
The move generated a wave of controversy because Mailloux resigned from the draft and asked not to be selected.
He was suspended indefinitely from the game for sharing an intimate photo of a woman without her consent while playing professional hockey in Sweden in November 2020. He was reinstated late last year.
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This year, Hughes says they’re taking the time to really get to know the players they’re interested in.
“As part of our evaluation, we’re not just evaluating hockey players, we’re evaluating character,” Hughes said. “We’re trying to assess his ability to deal with that kind of pressure on a consistent basis.”
Hughes says it’s possible they could trade their first overall pick for “an offer they can’t refuse.”
How is that irrefutable offer? Hughes wouldn’t say.
Habs fans will have to wait three more days to find out. The NHL Draft will take place at the Bell Center on Thursday.
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