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NHL Project | No options excluded by Kent Hughes, and not even a transaction

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Kent Hughes was an agent for 25 years. For 25 years he sat with CEOs, argued, used a variety of tactics to get the best deal for his clients.

Posted at 14:00
Updated at 19:24

Guillaume Lefrancois

Guillaume Lefrancois
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Here he is as general manager, a job that requires equal negotiation skills. We don’t know what his discussions with his counterparts might be like, but in public he speaks like a real negotiator.

It involves things like suggesting that Thursday’s draft overall pick could be traded.

“The decision has not been made. But if the draft were tonight, we would draw, ”Hughes replied on Monday, when colleague François Gagnon asked him directly if he intended to use this choice to select a player.

In the particular circumstances of this draft, it was quite surprising to hear such a response.

First, because exchanging a first choice in total is a practice that, like sitting three in the front seat of a Station Wagon, gets lost. The last time a team traded a first pick (before enlisting him) was in 2003. The Pittsburgh Penguins went from 3And to 1uh rank to claim Marc-André Fleury, while the Florida Panthers selected Nathan Horton with 3And choice.

Then, a small detail, this repechage takes place in Montreal. The Bell Center will be full for a rare event. The Habs fish in effect at 1uh ranking for the first time since 1980.

“I am aware that it would not be the most popular decision for the fans,” admitted the general manager of the Habs, during a media meeting in Brossard. […] But my responsibility is to work for the long-term good of the Montreal Canadiens. We will always evaluate options to improve the team. ”

Later, without the question being directly on the subject, Hughes himself hinted at the possibility of an exchange, “if we get an offer we can’t refuse.”

Three options

Few general managers announce their choice in advance when speaking to 1uh rank. Hughes should have continued the tradition, but went further, saying his team “hadn’t” made a decision yet. 72 hours from the draft and 55 days after winning the first choice lottery.

I wouldn’t say it’s a question of hesitation. We want to do our homework. We start meeting our scouts tonight [lundi] and we want to give them a voice.

Kent Hughes, general manager of the Canadiens

The problem is known: unlike Rasmus Dahlin in 2018 or Connor McDavid in 2015, no hope is unanimous. TSN’s Bob McKenzie interviewed 10 recruiters: five voted for Juraj Slafkovsky, four for Shane Wright, one for Logan Cooley.

Hughes also acknowledged that his “homework” (for first pick) involves three forwards.

At 6’4 “and 229lbs, the Slafkovsky winger is the most physically mature. Center Wright is also not skinny, at 6ft, 199lbs, and his all-round game is constantly advertised. Cooley, also a center. , is seen by many as a potential home run.Except at 180 lbs, he could spend another year eating spinach.

In Buffalo last month, Cooley told us he was “ready” to spend next season at college.

“Most of the top picks play in the NHL, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Hughes said. We don’t want to draft the best player at 18. We want the one who will be the best at 22, 24, 25. ”

It will be remembered that Trevor Zegras, 9And chosen in 2019, he was not penalized while playing college at 18. Last season, the striker exploded in Anaheim, amassing 61 points in 75 games.

The role of Lecavalier

It will be understood that in such a strategically crucial time, Hughes was unwilling to open his game.

The press conference was also attended by Vincent Lecavalier, his special adviser for hockey operations. The former striker offered some details about his role.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Vincenzo Lecavalier

He actually spoke to Wright recently. The interview was done on the phone, she said. And like Wright for a few years, Lecavalier had long been slated as the first overall pick in 1998.

“We talked about his status as No.Oh 1, Lecavalier pointed out. It was to understand how she handled it. I started the conversation by telling him how I felt in Rimouski. I found it difficult, there was a lot of pressure. Every day you are asked if you go out earlier. ”

Just three more days before these questions are over.

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