Last time Habs drafted No. 3 overall…

jpritch

You remember Jim Pritchard, don’t you? Defenceman from the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Canada Hockey League? Five-foot-9, 175 pounds, never played a game in the NHL?

Well, since the NHL entry draft began in incredibly modest form in 1963, Pritchard is the Canadiens’ only No. 3 overall pick, coming in 1968.

From hockeydraftcentral.com, from whom we’ve borrowed the graphic at left:

The sixth NHL Amateur Draft was the first to feature drafting based on the reverse order of finish from the previous season. This became the standard for all successive drafts. A slight difference, however, saw picks alternate by division, rather than directly by order of finish in the overall league, and the West Division was given some advantages over the more established East Division. This was also the first draft to feature traded picks, as the Oakland Seals gave up their No. 1 selection in a deal with Montreal. It was also the only draft in NHL history in which one team (Montreal) made all of the first three picks.

The draft was held almost in private around other league business being conducted at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

The headline item in Montreal was Claude Provost being named the inaugural winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, for which Habs’ Max Pacioretty is a nominee this season.

“At last I’ve got something to congratulate the hockey writers about,” joked Canadiens coach Toe Blake when the media vote was announced, declaring Provost the winner. “This was a fine selection.”

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