HOCKEY CRUNCH – KK Out, Dvorak In. Habs Lose. By Jamie Gilcig

September 5, 2021 – The saga of Jesper Kokowhatchamacalhim is over for Habs fans. Another failed franchise pick. When you draft in the top 5 that’s the deal in the cap age. Those players have to have important long term impacts.

While yours truly refers to KK as Lars Eller lite, that’s still not the worst thing.. He’s only 21 and still growing. He plays a physical game enough to matter, and was kinda sorta good enough, but again, he’s only 21 with room to improve.

With Dvorak the Habs get certainty, at least cap wise which isn’t a bad thing. They know their 2C will cost them $4.5M for four years….. or they now have a key to flip in a deal for Jack Eichel? Caulfield, Dvorak, and a 1st anyone?

We know what Dvorak is. He’s put together a body of NHL work. He appears to be a 40 point C with a good game with a good contract. Is he a 60 C in the right situation? Maybe?

Ultimately it’s one step forward, and two back. The certainty of Dvorak at the price of possible improvement of KK in your own division. There also is about 1.5M in cap difference for this season. Let’s call it a wash unless KK explodes. (Weirder things have happened)

The more glaring issue is the Habs drafting since Bergy took the team starting with his first pick which was Alex Galchenyuk in 2012 who put up a 30 goal season before derailing. The Habs needed a Centre and he was their guy. While there were some better overall players they could’ve picked; most of those were D men.

Montreal seems to rush their players and have weak development. If they don’t come NHL ready they seem to flounder.

In 2013 the Habs went with question mark Mike McCarron instead of clearly better Jason Dickinson. That was boggling as Dickinson charted to be far better than MM. Jason is still playing and being productive although in a mid level role to date.

In 2014 Montreal went with Nikita Sherbak in the 1st round, a light weight perimeter scorer. Ironically Dvorak was picked in the late 2nd round.

2015 was a bad year for the Habs. They selected Noah Juulsen in the late 1st round. Sebastian Aho was picked a handful of selections shortly thereafter by Carolina. Juulsen had some good minor seasons, but nothing that would stand out to be selected over Aho . Chez Nous Jeremy Roy and Brandon Carlo were also picked after Juulsen to add a bit of injury and insult.

2016 saw the Habs get it right with the selection of Sergachev. Sadly the team swapped him out for Jonathan Drouin almost immediately. This year Sergy got to carry Lord Stanley’s Cup as “Jo” wasn’t available to the team for the cup run as he was having boo boo hurt feelings issues of a personal nature that nobody is supposed to talk about as it might hurt his feelings more. The good news is that Jo appears to be better and hopefully will contribute to the team now that Montreal is predicted to not make the playoffs this upcoming season.

2017 Which player would you rather have as a GM of a Quebec based team? Beefy Max Comtois or Ryan Poehling? Yup, Montreal with their 25th pick decided they knew something most other teams didn’t. Comtois went 50th. However Morgan Frost went 27th. Frost was nearly a point a game player with some playoff juice and would then follow up with two monster years in Jr. He’s now about to make the big team this season. Poehling may or may not play a role this season with the Habs.

2018 is ugly. How anyone could pick KK over Tkachuk should be grounds for firing alone.

2019 Cole Caulfield. The jury is still out on this pick. While he’s wearing #22, which should have been retired years ago, he has a long way to prove that he should be wearing that shirt.

2020 Kaiden Guhle – The jury is still out. I don’t have an issue one way or the other yet on this pick.

2021 Logan Mailloux – well enough has been written about this young man. Frankly I like the pick. I think without the drama Mailloux would not have been available to Montreal when they drafted.

Clearly though, when you live in a market that has a problem attracting high level free agents (which really isn’t the way you want to build anyway) and has market issues like needing francophone stars, clearly Montreal has had a bewildering path under GM Marc Bergevin.

And while the team has had more picks in recent years it isn’t apparent yet that they have improved their game enough to make those picks have as strong an impact or value.

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