Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

The 5th Overall Pick: Cayden Lindstrom... Maybe...

May 18, 2024, 9:00 PM ET [298 Comments]
Brandon Smillie
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Hello Habs fans!

First, I want to say that I wish Karine all the best in her personal challenges she is working through. I hope she will find her path to health and happiness, and return to give you all the content you love here at Habs HockeyBuzz. Never give up.

Second, I had just observed in Karine’s latest post that she would have to leave due to the above mentioned.  I reached out to HB and asked if they would like me to help bridge the gap until her return by writing some Habs content and here I am. I hope to provide some interesting info/takes and if you don’t care for the content then at least we can keep your long running message board community going with fresh pages to write through.

Alright, let’s talk about what’s important to MTL hockey fans right now…. The 2024 NHL Draft.

Habs couldn’t find a golden ticket to the top 3 this offseason but they also didn’t fall any further down the line from their 5th place position. This is going to be a great opportunity to bring in a blue chip caliber prospect into the organization and over the next couple weeks I’ll be bringing you some information on the potential players available. rnrnSome feel that because any of the next 7-9 picks after Celebrini could be picked that the draft may not be as good this season. Some also feel that this is an incredibly deep draft at the top because you can argue a number of different players can go at 2/3/4/5. I’m in the latter camp. I think this draft gives a chance to pick up some star/first line/pair potential but I am not certain which direction the Habs will go when it’s their turn at the podium.

Do they pick best player available?  Draft for need?  Trade the pick for help now or to move down?  GM Hughes and Co. have options and options are never a bad thing.rnrnPlayers I think can be available to MTL include Lindstrom, Silayev, Demidov, Catton, Buium, Parekh, Helenius, Iginla, Yakemchuk, and Eiserman. I don’t think Levshunov (or maybe Silayev) make it past Chicago. I also think Anaheim is most likely going to take Demidov so they can move on from Zegras.  I get the feeling that Columbus will take Lindstrom as well, but the way they collect D men lately I wouldn’t be shocked to see them take a high potential D either.

With all that said, I’ll direct attention towards what I think could be an obvious fit long term: Medicine Hat Tigers C - Cayden Lindstrom.

Lindstrom has turned many of the prognosticators heads this season with his frame, skill, and motor this season.  The 6’4”, 216 lbs Center for Medicine Hat managed a stat line of 32 games and 46 points (27 G - 19 A) in the regular season.  The unfortunate part is that Lindstrom has suffered from injuries this season and some of them lingered, effecting his most important hockey season yet. In fact, he required surgery, missed months of action, and only got into a few playoff games before his season ended. It is said he required surgery on his hand and was dealing with lingering back issues. His spot here isn’t a sure thing as a lot will depend on the combine in a few weeks when teams can move in for a closer examination. Lindstrom’s projection remains top 5 in most pro scouting publications because of his combo of size and skill being projectable in the NHL world, but I would be lying if I didn’t get Galchenyuk flashbacks where we take a player based on play from half a year prior, before injuries, and not where they are currently.

But, a very large and skilled center for the Habs is our decades long cliche and I picked Lindstrom to chat about with that in mind. I’m not a Dach (or Newhook) fan, sorry.  Newhook as bottom 6 C?  Certainly. Dach traded?  Please yes.  He’s another projectable player that has shown nothing really exciting at the NHL level except for his unfortunate ability to incur debilitating, season ending injuries. Sorry, but Dach has no future for MTL. I’ll gladly eat crow on it down the road but I don’t think I will have to. The need remains at C behind Suzuki and the way publications are talking about Lindstrom you might even be of the opinion that he could usurp Suzuki down the road. So, if the Habs feel similar then it’s very likely we can see Lindstrom’s name called at 5. Do I think Lindstrom is the answer for top 6 C?  Well, I’m not overly thrilled about him as a prospect due to the injuries but this will be where the pro scouts and medical teams will make their money. If he’s cleared medically then I think you pretty much have to draft him at #5 and wait patiently to see if his D+1 season ends up going spectacularly. The good part about drafting Center’s is that you can also move them to the wing but they will have the training/IQ of a Center. With Lindstrom’s size and ability a move to the wing could fit just fine, especially if the concerns about his on ice vision remain.

I know Habs have some prospect C’s with potential, but there aren’t many chances to draft big and talented centers unless you fail for a year so this could be the Habs path for their first pick.  If they believe the injuries aren’t going to be long term issues then it could be an amazing pick. If they do, then there’s some other amazing options to chose from.

This is a risk/reward pick at this moment in time and we will have to see what the appetite Kent Hughes and Co. will have that day. There may be some more certain picks available that feel “safer” on draft day, but that’s part of why I thought to start discussions on draft picks since there is no real consensus from 2-10 overall this year. I personally think this spot might be better reserved for some of the D prospects available or even a couple other high reward types in Catton and Eiserman, or even Helenius who could end up a Barkov-like player in his own right.

The choices at #5 are honestly great in my view, all I hope is that whoever the Canadiens bring in ends up being the right call. You can look at any of the last 5 drafts and find some amazing picks that went after the top 3. I feel like at this point in the rebuild, this pick HAS to hit. The good thing is whoever they take (that isn’t a massive reach) should leave us all feeling good about the years ahead.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Follow my new X account @B_Smillie_HKYBZ if you want, I’ll post these blogs there. I’ll be back in a couple days with another potential Habs pick to pour over.

Again, please be well Karine. I hope you are getting all the help and support you need right now. I had to walk away from HockeyBuzz years ago because my mother had some terrible health issues and we took her in to provide a better final few months than she would have gotten in a hospital (while being in school again) and it was all just too overwhelming for me so I empathize with her decision to stop doing something she cares deeply about for reasons you wish weren’t happening. I was very grateful to Eklund and crew for letting me use their space to chat Habs and I was even more happy to see my place filled by an even more passionate fan in Karine who did it more often and better than I did. I’ll say a prayer for your health Karine and I know others have already.
Join the Discussion: » 298 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Brandon Smillie
» The 5th Overall Pick: Ivan Demidov + Laine E4?
» The 5th Overall Pick: Zayne Parekh
» The 5th Overall Pick: Anton Silayev
» Acquiring Laine Would Exceptional... But At What Cost?
» Is 29 Year Old Jake Gardiner The Only Option For MTL?