Just for laughs – and to start a few water-cooler arguments – let’s look back at the Canadiens’ recent first-round draft choices.
For each of the last 10 years, we list the Canadiens pick(s), then a player or players whom they might have chosen, followed by later-round choices that have worked out well.
We’d have gone back farther, but that gets you into the heartbreak of such first-round busts as Éric Chouinard, Jason Ward, Matt Higgins, Terry Ryan, Brad Brown, David Wilkie, Brent Bilodeau and Turner Stevenson.
With the notable exception of Saku Koivu, 21st overall in 1993, the ’90s were a lost decade for first-rounders.
On the other hand, the Canadiens got Andrei Markov with the 162nd pick of the 1998 draft (which also yielded Mike Ribeiro, François Beauchemin and Michael Ryder).
The 1980s began with the team’s last first overall pick. And with Denis Svard available, they took Doug Wickenheiser – kicking off a dreary decade that saw first-round choices wasted on Mark Hunter, Alain Héroux, Alfie Turcotte, José Charbonneau (that’s him, with the poofy hair, in the pic), Mark Pederson, Andrew Cassels, Éric Charron and Lindsay Vallis.
The 21st century has been better for first-round picks … but let’s second-guess them anyway.
2009: Canadiens took Louis Leblanc (18th overall). They could have taken: No obvious second-guesses. Later-round bonus: Mac Bennett (3rd round, 79th overall
2008: No first-round pick. Canadiens took Danny Kristo in the second-round, 56th overall. Again, no obvious One Who Got Away. And Maxim Trunev (5th round, 138 overall) might be a player if they ever get him out of Russia.
2007: Ryan McDonough (12th overall) and Max Pacioretty (22nd) in the first round. Colton Gillies was still on the board when McDonough was picked, and David Perron went four spots after Pacioretty. (Lars Eller went one spot after McDonough). But the Canadiens got P.K. Subban in the second round, 43rd overall (one spot before Aaron Palushaj).
2006: Canadiens took David Fischer 20th overall. Two picks later, the Flyers took Claude Giroux. Later in the first round, Patrik Berglund went to St. Louis and Nick Foligno to Ottawa. Possibe sleeper: Ryan Whte in the third round … but that doesn’t make up for missing out on Giroux.
2005: Carey Price, the Franchise, chosen 5th overall (one pick after Minesota took Benoit Pouliot). Still on the board at that point: Devin Setoguchi, Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal, Tuukka Rask, T.J. Oshie and Andrew Cogliano. Canadiens took Sergei Kostitsyn in the seventh round, and that looked like a steal for a while. Not so much lately.
2004: Kyle Chipchura, 18th overall. Still on the board: Travis Zajac, Andrej Meszaros, Jeff Schultz and Mike Green. But the Canadiens took Mark Streit in the 9th round, 262nd overall.
2003: Do we even want to talk about it? The Canadiens took Andrei Kostitsyn 10th overall. Still available: Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Eric Fehr, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry. In the second round the Canadiens took Corey Urquhart with Patrice Bergeron, Matt Carle and Shea Weber available. Then they took Maxim Lapierre one spot ahead of David Backes. Heartbreaking … but the Canadiens got Ryan O’Byrne in the third and, with the 271st overall choice, Jaro Halak in the 9th round.
2002: Christopher Higgins in the first round, 14th overall. No obvious first-round overlooks, but Cam Ward lasted till the 25th pick. Canadiens took Tomas Linhart in the second round ahead of Matt Stajan, Jiri Hudler, Johnny Boychuk and Tomas Fleischmann. Later rounds were a wash … but maybe Konstantin Korneev will come over once he’s 35 and washed-up.
2001: Mike Komisarek (seventh) and Alexander Prezhogin (25th) were chosen the first round. Komo went ahead of Tuomo Ruutu, Dan Hamhuis, Ales Hemsky and Colby Armstrong. Perezhogin was picked with Derek Roy still available. But the Canadiens took Tomas Plekanec in the third round (71st overall).
2000: Ron Hainsey (13th) and Marcel “The Other” Hossa (16th) were the first-round picks. Still on the board: Brooks Orpik, Alexander Frolov, Brad Boyes, Steve Ott, Justin Williams and Niklas Kronwall. A wasted draft, but third-round pick Josef Balej was traded for Alex Kovalev.
Scouting is an inexact science. And hindsight is 20-20.
said, this team has come a long way from 1971 – when the first round
yielded Guy Lafleur, Chuck Arnason and Murray Wilson, with Larry
Robinson added in the second round.
Whom will the Canadiens pick
with 27th choice on Friday night?
Let the free advice begin.