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ANALYST BELIEVES HABS MADE THE WRONG PICK BY TAKING JESPERI KOTKANIEMI

The Montreal Canadiens surprised a lot of people when they took Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. Many felt the Habs would go after winger Filip Zadina, who was eventually taken sixth overall by Detroit. However, Montreal seemed intent on drafting someone they felt could turn into a franchise centre, something the team has lacked now for several years. At least one analyst believes it was the wrong choice.

"It's way too early, but he's not Brady Tkachuk, if that's where we're going to go with this." said TSN Radio's Tony Marinaro, referencing the pick Ottawa made right after Montreal in 2018. "I think they made the wrong choice. And, I know I shouldn't be saying that when a player is...20 years old and in the second year of his career, I know I shouldn't be saying that. I know he'll get stronger, bigger, I know he'll still get faster...Brady Tkachuk's going to do the same thing."

Tkachuk has put up better numbers than Kotkaniemi in each of their first two seasons in the NHL. After a decent rookie season where he put up 11 goals and 34 points in 76 games, Kotkaniemi definitely struggled this season, eventually getting sent to the Laval Rocket of the AHL before both leagues shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kotkaniemi has also struggled with some injuries along the way, including issues with his knee and spleen, as well as a concussion suffered after a huge hit from six-foot-six, 235 pound defenceman Nikita Zadorov of the Colorado Avalanche. All in all, Marinaro believes Montreal brought Kotkaniemi to the NHL too soon.

"He wasn't ready to protect himself like guys who come into the league are ready to do when they come into the league at a later age." said Marinaro. In my opinion, they made the wrong move and, hopefully for him it's not going to hurt him long term."



"Look, I think Kotkaniemi is going to be a good player, but I think Brady Tkachuk is going to score 40 goals. And how many guys are going to score 40 goals in this league?"

Marinaro's comments came after being asked about Kotkaniemi's performance in Tuesday's exhibition game against Toronto. It appears Kotkaniemi will be playing the third line centre role for Montreal for at least the start of the play-in round against Pittsburgh.

Source: TSN Radio
TIM TUCKER
JULY 30, 2020  (10H58)
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