Alexis Lafrenière To Montreal: The Odds

This is a fun time of the year if you’re a hockey fan. In a somewhat dull, long NHL season where teams seem to be going through the motions, in a league where in-season trades are so few and far between, fans are often bored. But here comes the IIHF World Junior hockey tournament, where the best under-19 players in the world face each other in a short tourney. The relentless way those kids play the game and the high caliber of hockey give fans a much necessary jolt, some much needed excitement.

At this year’s World Juniors, one name is on just about every Montreal Canadiens’ lips: Saint-Eustache, Quebec born Alexis Lafrenière. Let’s be honest here… he’s on the lips of every NHL team who are not Stanley Cup contenders. Really, how nice would it be to get such a talented player to boost your team? While the thought of landing the first overall pick is an annual desire, or consolation prize, this one is special for Montreal, a very unique market in the NHL by the language defining the franchise… and this prospect is one of them! Fans are watching the tournament, dreaming of seeing the Habs “tank for Lafrenière”, as they call it. But what are the odds of that happening?

For one thing, the Canadiens are fighting for a playoffs’ spot and while the team has some major holes in their lineup, needs that GM Marc Bergevin is struggling to fill in-season, the Habs are very unlikely to get the first overall pick and if they make the playoffs, they will have zero chance via the Draft lottery. But even if they missed out on the playoffs, the odds of winning the lottery are very slim. Even the team finishing dead last in the NHL only has 18.5% odd of winning the right to speak first at the 2020 Draft, ironically held in Montreal.

So the Canadiens’ best chances of getting Lafrenière at the Draft would be to trade for him. That’s easier said than done as historically, first overall picks are rarely traded. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t been done in the Salary Cap Era as the last time it happened was back in 2003. Let’s look at the times when teams did trade the very first pick in the NHL, shall we?

2003

Pittsburgh Penguins getFlorida Panthers get
– No. 1 pick
– 3rd round pick
– No. 3 pick
– 2nd round pick
– Mikael Samuelsson
Player selected:Marc-André Fleury

2002

Columbus Blue Jackets getFlorida Panthers get
– No. 1 pick– No. 3 pick
– Right to swap to picks in 2003
Player selected:Rick Nash

1999

Atlanta Thrashers getVancouver Canucks get
– No. 1 pick– No.2 pick
– 3rd round pick
Player selected:Patrik Stefan

1998

Tampa Bay Lightning getSan Jose Sharks get
– No. 1 pick
– Andrei Nazarov
– No. 2 pick
– Bryan Marchment
– David Shaw
Player selected:Vincent Lecavalier

1991

Philadelphia Flyers getQuebec Nordiques get
– No. 1 pick *– Peter Forsberg
– Ron Hextall
– Steve Duchesne
– Kerry Huffman
– Mike Ricci
– $15 million
– two first-round picks
Player selected:Eric Lindros
* Quebec had already selected Lindros who refused to report. He never played a game with the Nordiques

1983

Minnesota North Stars getPittsburgh Penguins get
– No. 1 pick
– George Ferguson
– No. 15 pick
– Ron Meighan
– Anders Hakansson
Player selected:Brian Lawton

1982

Boston Bruins getColorado Rockies get
– No. 1 pick
– 2nd round pick
– Dwight Foster*
– No. 22 pick
– 10th round pick
Player selected:Gord Kluzak
* This was a compensation to the Rockies for signing Foster

1980

Montreal Canadiens getColorado Rockies get
– No. 1 pick*– No. 19 pick
– Ron Andruff
– Sean Shanahan
Player selected:Doug Wickenheiser
The trade happened in 1976 (4 years prior). The Habs traded Andruff and Shanahan to the Rockies for the right to swap first-round picks in 1980 (no. 1 for no. 19).

1975

Philadelphia Flyers getWashington Capitals get
– No. 1 pick– No. 18 pick
– Bill Clement
– Don McLean
Player selected:Mel Bridgman

1971

Montreal Canadiens getCalifornia Golden Seals get
– 1971 first-rounder (no. 1)
– Francois Lacombe
– 1970 first-rounder (no. 10)
– Ernie Hicke
Player selected:Guy Lafleur

In my humble opinion, there is absolutely no doubt that Bergevin is setting himself up to make a serious offer, even a severe overpayment to the team winning the Draft lottery in order to convince them to give him the first overall pick. The Habs have been stockpiling prospects and picks like there’s no tomorrow and that, even knowing that they’ll have a hard time fitting all of them under the 50 contracts limit when comes time to signing these guys.

He’s relying heavily on Trevor Timmins and Shayne Churla to draft well, and on Joël Bouchard to develop those players so the Canadiens have more munitions to entice or even trade for the first overall pick next summer. But folks, don’t hold your breath on that one. The team is too strong to earn that pick through lottery and the odds are against the Habs to complete a trade with whichever team wins that lottery. In the meantime though, let’s cheer our team to win… NOT to tank. Go Habs Go!

Debunking the “Living in the Past” Narrative

“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but, more importantly, what they must be.” ~ John Henrik Clarke

With his most recent comments, not only did Max Domi give a serious slap to Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans, but he opened a can of worms. As seen in the following video, Domi justified his saying that the Canadiens’ fans are the best in the NHL by mentioning the 24 Stanley Cups they have won, by far the most in the long history of the league. Coming from the son of Leafs’ fan favourite Tie Domi, a kid who is from Toronto and grew up following the Leafs, it is bound to hurt some people’s feelings.

Fans of other teams, who cannot debate this because they know that it’s a fact, often revert to the only thing they can come up with, by saying that Habs’ fans “live in the past”. Can we really blame them? Unable to deny it, that it’s the only argument they can hang their hats on.

But in doing so, they forget that the past starts the moment you think about it, after each breath that you take. See, you just read this and it’s already in the past. Even the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup win is in the past. So come to think of it, mentioning anything prior to this actual moment is living in the past.

History

Because they can’t match the Stanley Cup argument, those hockey fans tend to forget, or at the very least downplay the importance of history. That’s right. Whether we’re talking about hockey or any other topic, history is what defines what we live today.

Canada is rich in history. Christopher Columbus got lost and discovered America. The battle of the Plains of Abraham has defined our country. Our Premiers and Prime Ministers have all defined our history in their own way. The CP rail and CN rail were a huge part of Canadian history, helping to tie the West to the East. Does mentioning any historical event also considered “living in the past”?

Carey Price is the Canadiens’ career leader in wins.

NHL forwards have Wayne Gretzky to chase for records. Defensemen are still trying to match what Bobby Orr has accomplished in his shorten career. Martin Brodeur‘s 691 wins is the benchmark for NHL goaltenders to beat. For NHL teams, the 24 Stanley Cups is the benchmark, something that every single franchise would love to surpass. True that the Canadiens have been around for over 110 years but never forget that there are five other teams currently in the league who have also been part of the original NHL and that includes… the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So Habs’ fans, continue to be proud of the Canadiens’ rich history. Remember that whenever some other NHL fan brings in the weak argument that we’re “living in the past”, it’s because they’re jealous of the team’s rich history and truthfully, they have no other ways to insult the NHL’s most popular franchise worldwide. Afterall, some of them started using that excuse back in… 1994. Go Habs Go!