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HomeNewsStu Cowan: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes places his plan into motion

Stu Cowan: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes places his plan into motion

He is a assured man who may be very snug in his personal pores and skin and with no matter selections he decides to make. Time will inform if he is proper.

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Since taking up as normal supervisor of the Canadiens, Kent Hughes has impressed me as sensible, assured and really snug in his personal pores and skin and with no matter selections he decides to make.

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That was by no means extra obvious than in the course of the first spherical of the NHL draft Thursday night time on the Bell Centre.

Hughes has a long-range plan for the way he needs to construct the Canadiens, together with Jeff Gorton, the manager vice-president of hockey operations. That’s one thing former GM Marc Bergevin by no means appeared to have.

Whereas Bergevin has massive biceps, Hughes confirmed he has some massive hockey pucks — you realize what a part of the anatomy I imply — with the strikes he made Thursday night time, which could or may not work out for the most effective.

However at the least there appears to be a plan and the GM is assured in it. Hughes needs the Canadiens to play quick and with talent underneath head coach Martin St. Louis, however he additionally realized the crew wanted to get larger and quicker down the center.

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Heading into the draft, there was discuss Hughes may attempt to make a commerce with the New Jersey Devils to get the No. 2 total choose to go together with the No. 1 choose the Canadiens already held. That may have allowed Hughes to draft centre Shane Wright (or Logan Cooley) and left-winger Juraj Slafkovsky.

As a substitute, Hughes took Slafkovsky with the No. 1 choose after which made a few trades — together with sending defenceman Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders — with a view to get centre Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dach, the third total choose on the 2019 NHL Draft, is 6-foot-4 and 197 kilos. Wright is 6-foot and 199 kilos, whereas Cooley is 5-foot-10 and 180 kilos.

Slafkovsky is 6-foot-4 and 229 kilos and may very well be an excellent match on the Canadiens’ No. 1 line with centre Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. Suzuki is 5-foot-11 and 205 kilos, Christian Dvorak is 6-foot-1 and 200 kilos and the Canadiens have added extra dimension down the center with Dach.

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“There’s actually a component of dimension to the sport of hockey,” Hughes mentioned. “After we watch the Stanley Cup playoffs yearly — particularly the playoffs vs. the common season — it’s a really bodily, powerful model of hockey. Our sport adjustments just a little. We’re nonetheless going put a premium on talent and velocity as a part of it.

“There’s not a 5-foot-9 hockey participant that scares me,” the GM added. “However 22 of them (on the identical crew) would scare me. So it’s simply looking for that steadiness.”

Hughes famous he couldn’t think about the Canadiens placing collectively a line sooner or later that will have 5-foot-10 Filip Mesar (chosen with the twenty sixth total choose Thursday night time) with 5-foot-9 Sean Farrell (a fourth-round choose in 2020) and Caufield, who’s 5-foot-7.

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Hughes had a plan to get Dach from Chicago after which executed two trades to make it work. First, the GM acquired the thirteenth total choose from the New York Islanders in alternate for Romanov and the 98th total choose, after which dealt the No. 13 choose to the Blackhawks, together with the 66th choose, in alternate for Dach. Hughes mentioned it was a “very troublesome” choice to commerce Romanov, however added that generally to get what you need it’s a must to make sacrifices.

Dach is barely 21, however already has three seasons of NHL expertise with 19-40-59 totals in 152 video games. He was named captain of Staff Canada for the 2021 world junior championship, however fractured his proper wrist throughout a pre-tournament sport and ended up lacking the occasion.

“We have been trying to enhance, get just a little larger, quicker in the midst of the ice if we may,” Hughes mentioned. “There’s additionally in an ideal world an age part to it in order that (Dach) can develop with our younger core and positively he match that description for us. We knew that he was accessible doubtlessly, so we spent a very good period of time making an attempt to grasp who Kirby Dach was. He went third choose total. What’s occurred with Kirby Dach? Why is Chicago keen to maneuver him?

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“Clearly, they moved another fairly good gamers, too (together with Alex DeBrincat, who was dealt to the Ottawa Senators). No matter their plan is, it’s not a lot our enterprise. However in relation to Kirby, we needed to grasp. We spoke to lots of people in and across the metropolis of Chicago related to the crew. Even to the extent of talking to (Canadiens defenceman) Justin Barron right now. He was with him on the world juniors. Simply to ensure we understood who the participant was, who the particular person was.

“Once more, I’ve mentioned all of it alongside, we’re going to take a position cash in growing hockey gamers and making an attempt to get probably the most out of their potential and we imagine Kirby has important potential and we predict with the Montreal Canadiens, on this surroundings, we will convey him alongside and get him to some extent the place he could be a fairly particular centreman.”

That’s the plan.

It should in all probability take a couple of years to search out out if it really works.

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