The Canadiens hold the No. 25 pick heading into Sunday’s NHL draft in New Jersey (3 p.m., TSN, RDS) and GM Marc Bergevin says they are “sitting in the back of the bus.”
But The Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports that doesn’t mean they can’t find a player or two with the potential to drive the bus. The Canadiens have nine picks in the draft, including Nos. 34, 36 and 55 in the second round, and two more picks in the third round.
“You think you’re getting a player who can help you, but after the top picks you never know,” Bergevin said.
“Look at (Chicago defenceman) Duncan Keith, he was a second-round draft pick, and P.K. Subban went in the second round,” Bergevin added, referring to two recent Norris Trophy winners. “And you have Brendan Gallagher, who we picked in the fifth round. Did we know he was going to play in the NHL? No. But our scouts saw something there.
“I was drafted in the third round and I played 20 years,” Bergevin said. “Maybe I should have been a first-rounder.”
Bergevin said all 30 NHL teams will say they’re happy Sunday night, but the important thing is what they do after the draft.
“You can’t draft a player and say: ‘We’ll see you in three years,’ ” Bergevin said. “You have to work with these players. That’s why we hired Marty Lapointe and Patrice Brisebois to work with our younger players.”
The Canadiens made it official on Friday, announcing they have used their second compliance buyout on Tomas Kaberle’s contract. The first one was used on Scott Gomez before the start of the season.
The Canadiens also announced they have signed Michael Blunden to a one-year, two-way contract. Blunden was recalled from the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs on March 16 and played five games with the Canadiens, failing to register a point. The 26-year-old has played 95 NHL games and has four goals and four assists.
(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)