Kent Hughes and the Canadiens made a monumental blunder and it is already hurting the organization severely

Elias Edmonson
September 16, 2023  (2:43 PM)

More than a year since the 2022 draft, we can assert that the Canadien's rebuild seems promising.

Even though he didn't have the expected first professional season, Juraj Slafkovsky showed beautiful skills that indicate quite clearly that he will become a big part of the Canadiens offense in the coming years.
In the second round, the Canadiens set their sights on two very high-quality prospects in Owen Beck, but especially Lane Hutson, who turned heads this season. We can add the excellent selection of defenseman Adam Engstrom in the third round, who surprised many by becoming, at 19 years old, a cornerstone of his organization in the best European league, the SHL.
However, what has attracted attention since this draft is the team's selection with its 26th choice, which was obtained in the Tyler Toffoli trade a few months earlier.
The Habs opted for another Slovak, a forward with a small frame in Filip Mesar, rather than the consensus choice at that draft position, who already seemed to become a steal so late in the draft, and I am talking about Jiri Kulich here. The latter was finally chosen at the 28th rank by the Buffalo Sabres.
One season later from this draft, it must be said that this decision by the Canadiens is already aging very poorly.
While Mesar could not establish himself well in the OHL, collecting only 51 points, including 17 goals in 52 games, plus deficient production in the playoffs with four points in nine encounters, it's the complete opposite for Kulich, who makes the Canadiens look very bad.
With a strong first professional season in the AHL, the Czech forward had a considerable impact by scoring 24 goals and getting 46 points in 62 games. This is plainly exceptional offensive production for an 18-year-old player.
However, Kulich didn't stop there, as he stepped up his game during the playoffs. He scored seven goals and collected 11 points in 12 games. Once again, for a rookie who had just been drafted, this is an astonishing performance.
Moreover, he hurt the Canadiens yesterday, during the Rookie Tournament. He scored a superb goal with a major league shot during a power play. He is a distinguished scorer, and he proved it very well. It hurts even more when we consider that Mesar was completely invisible during this match.
In hindsight, if the management had chosen Kulich instead of Mesar, he would undoubtedly be the brightest prospect in the organization's attack, ahead of Joshua Roy, Sean Farrell, Owen Beck, and Emil Heineman. I would even add that he would be in serious competition with Juraj Slafkovsky in the coming years.
It seems almost certain that the Canadien's management made a major mistake by missing out on Kulich, who was the consensus choice to make at the team's draft spot.
Kent Hughes and the Canadiens made a monumental blunder and it is already hurting the organization severely

Do you believe that the Canadien made a big mistake by not drafting Jiri Kulich at the 26th spot?

Yes2429.3 %
No1923.2 %
Too early to say3947.6 %
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