After finishing the season in 28th place, the Canadiens find themselves with the third overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft.
While there are many holes that need to be filled before the Habs can compete with the league's top teams, a number one center has been at the top of their list for years.
With the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets picking ahead of the Canadiens it is pretty much guaranteed that selecting top ranked Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting is out of the question.
With Yakupov out of the equation, here is a look at a few of the possible picks for the Montreal Canadiens.
Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
Grigorenko was in the running with Yakupov throughout the season as this year's top prospect before Yakupov played his way to being the unanimous number one.
Grigorenko finished the season in the Q with 85 points — 40 goals and 45 helpers — in 59 games. However, the consensus on him seems to be that he plays one game on and three games off. Another knock on Grigorenko is that he is said to rack up a majority of his points against weaker teams.
If Grigorenko does indeed have a tendency of taking nights off then the the Habs should take a pass on him despite his numbers and alluring 6'2" 191 pound frame.
Nonetheless, it is a popular belief in Montreal that the Canadiens have all but decided to pick the Russian prospect in June. The fact that he played under head coach Patrick Roy meshes well with rumors that St. Patrick has already accepted the coaching job in Montreal.
In fact, a few weeks back a Twitter account believed to be Grigorenko's posted a tweet announcing his eagerness to be drafted and to possibly play under Roy again. The tweet was deleted roughly five minutes later but not before creating a storm of rumors in Montreal.
Tempest in a teapot or something more? Time will tell.
Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting, OHL
Galchenyuk is poised to go high in the draft despite missing all but two games this past season due to surgery performed on his ACL.
In 2010-11 Galchenyuk scored 31 goals and added 52 assists in 68 games.
The Wisconsin bred Galchenyuk is said to be a fantastic two0way player and has even been favorably compared to Marian Hossa by former NHLer Igor Larionov.
Filip Forsberg, Leksands IF, Swedish Allsvenskan (Second Division)
While Forsberg — no relation to former NHL great Peter Forsberg — is a winger and not a center, it would be tough for the Canadiens to pass on if he remains available when the TBA GM of the Habs takes to the podium.
Forsberg earned 20 points, including ten goals, in 53 contests with Leksands of the Swedish Second Division. Off hand, the numbers may not appear excessively gaudy, but it is worth remembering that the Sweden owns some of the top professional leagues outside of North America.
Forsberg also turned more heads during the recent IIHF Under-18 World Championship, notching five goals and two assists in six games en route to a silver medal finish. In addition, the winger was named named the tournament's top forward.
Unfortunately, size is an asset that the Habs would be sacrificing if they were to go with Forsberg.
At 6'1" and 176 lbs, Forsberg relies on his speed and impressive on-ice maneuvering more than on his frame. Along with his speed, Forsberg is said to have a quick shot and soft hands that deliver crisp passes.
Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers, OHL
Faksa would definitely bring more size up the middle. He is 6'3" 203 lbs and only going to get bigger with time.
Faksa plays a well rounded game as he is effective at both ends of the ice. The Habs could use his size along with his hard shot, smooth playmaking abilities and strong work ethic.
His ability to protect the puck and his overall game should make him attractive to any team looking to add a centerman to their roster.
Faksa racked up 67 points, including 29 goals, in 62 games for Kitchener in 2011-12.
There Can Be Only One
Although the Habs brass may be enjoying the amount of talent they have to choose from, the fact remains that they will have to decide on one of the above mentioned players.
Each prospect shows promise but the Canadiens will be under tons of pressure to draft someone who can help them reclaim the respect that used to be associated with the CH logo.
While it would be ideal to get instant help, Yakupov is probably the only NHL ready player named on my list and unfortunately the Canadiens do not stand much of a chance at landing him.
Personally, I would have my list shortened to either Forsberg or Faksa.
If you were calling the shots who would you pick?
Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com You can follow Sean on Twitter.
(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)