The Montreal Canadiens face an important decision ahead of the 2024 NHL Draft. They hold the fifth overall selection in this year's draft, just as they did last year. Last season, the Habs took defenseman David Reinbacher with that selection. In 2024, however, Montreal is likely to pick a forward. And one potential name to watch is Spokane Chiefs star Berkly Catton.

Catton is certainly a fascinating prospect. At the beginning of the season, his stock was quite high. In fact, he was firmly in the conversation as a potential top-five pick. However, recently his stock has fallen. It hasn't exactly plummeted, and he should still be a top-15 pick, if not top-10. But there is a noticeable difference between how he is viewed now to how he was viewed at the beginning of the season.

Despite the change in perception, Catton is a fantastic hockey player. And he is still more than worthy of going in the top five of this draft. So with this in mind, here is why the Canadiens need to draft Berkly Catton with the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Berkly Catton has unreal potential

General view of the Montreal Canadiens table during the second round of the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre. Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis and General Manager Kent Hughes on the left.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Catton is an all-around gifted prospect. He has no true weaknesses in his game outside of his size. And while size and stature can help in the NHL, talent can overcome that. Catton is certainly talented enough to succeed at the next level despite being undersized.

The potential Canadiens draft target is a gifted skater despite not having elite speed. He is slippery on the ice, which allows him to draw a ton of penalties. He is also a force on the power play. Catton is a strong and creative passer with the puck and can make the most difficult plays seem routine.

Given his size, some teams may view the Chiefs star as a winger. However, the Canadiens should draft him with the intention of playing him at center. He is excellent in the faceoff circle, and his defensive work gives him the potential to succeed down the middle. He has the potential to anchor Montreal's top line while being relied on in all situations.

Concerns over size in professional sports are understandable to some extent. With a player like Berkly Catton, though, those concerns go out the window. The Canadiens would be selecting a player with unreal potential if they called his name at the 2024 NHL Draft.

The best of the rest

Of course, the Canadiens will consider all of their options. They have signaled a desire to add a forward at the NHL Draft. But there is a chance they could go with a defenseman. That said, let's focus on the forwards that will likely be available at the fifth overall pick.

Montreal likely hopes that Russian winger Ivan Demidov falls to their selection. However, it is unlikely that this happens. Demidov is widely considered to be one of the top three prospects in the class. ClutchPoints has Demidov going second-overall to the Chicago Blackhawks in its latest mock draft. If he falls, though, Demidov would be quite the pick for the Habs.

Another name to watch is Medicine Hat Tigers star Cayden Lindstrom. Lindstrom is a different player than Catton, so this is merely a matter of preference. The Tigers star is a big, powerful center who can create offense and push people around. However, there are concerns over a herniated disc he suffered this past season.

The Canadiens could target one of Cole Eiserman, Tij Iginla, or Konsta Helenius, as well. But all three players would represent a bit of a reach at fifth overall. The exception to this could be Eiserman. The American winger is the best pure goal scorer in this class. That said, he is a one-dimensional player at this point. If Montreal believes they can develop the rest of his game, they could pull off a major NHL Draft surprise.

Berkly Catton stands above all of these options except for Demidov. He may not be a better goal scorer than Eiserman, and he may not have Lindstrom's size. But he is one of the most well-rounded and complete players in this class. And he could be a cornerstone for the Canadiens for years to come.