Don't count Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien among those fantasizing about landing Quebec native and presumptive No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere in the 2020 draft.
The veteran head coach confirmed as much recently, saying the club's focus is solely on beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round of the playoffs rather than entering the lottery for a chance to draft the hometown phenom.
"Everybody's got their opinions and they're entitled to them," Julien told NHL.com's Dave Stubbs. "Some fans, rightfully so, get excited about seeing the possibility of seeing that guy (Lafreniere). But imagine if we didn't win the first round and we don't get Lafreniere? How are the fans going to react then?"
He continued: "I know there are a lot of comments going around that say, my gosh, we should lose in the first round so we have a chance at the first pick overall and have a chance at a local boy, Lafreniere. Trust me, I'd love to have this player on my team. But there's no guarantee even if we go out in the first round that we would have that player."
The Canadiens are the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. After a place-holder team won the No. 1 overall pick in last month's draft lottery, it was determined each team eliminated from the play-in round will enter the next stage of the lottery and own a 12.5% chance at winning the top selection.
"If we win (against the Penguins), we're getting better as a team," Julien said. "If circumstances go the other way, then maybe we do get a shot at him. But at the end of the day we're built to win. We're professional athletes, we're competitive. There's no reason in the world to think otherwise. That's the direction we're going."
Montreal went 1-1-1 against Pittsburgh this season, with the Penguins outscoring the Canadiens 8-7.