Despite the absence of top draft picks, the Habs have had a lot of draft success in recent years.
While guilty of a few bad selections, the Canadiens have done well drafting in the lower rounds;
however, in those same seasons, some of their top picks have been hit or miss. Here is a review of Montreal’s recent draft history:
2000 1st round draft pick: Ron Hainsey
The last draft with GM Rejean Houle brought in American D Ron Hainsey from U
of Mass-Lowell at the 13th pick of the draft. Hainsey spent quite some time in the
AHL with the Bulldogs before getting a chance with the Habs, making two stints in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 for a total of 32 games, two points and six PIM.
When injuries arose in 2005, he was placed on re-entry waivers and was picked up by the Columbus Blue Jackets where he played three years.
This was followed by three years in Atlanta and the past two with the Winnipeg Jets. His NHL totals sit at 591 games, 34 G, 159 A, and 271 PIM.
2001 1st round draft pick: Mike Komisarek
The first draft with Andre Savard at the helm saw American D Mike Komisarek’s arrival to Montreal as the 7th pick overall and one of the top defensive prospects
at the time. Fresh out of the University of Michigan, Komisarek suited up for
the Hamilton Bulldogs, playing 21 games in the 2002-2003 season (one goal, one assist, and 28 PIM),
and 46 games in 2003-2004 (four goals and 34 PIM). Komisarek would make
the jump to the NHL with a first full season in 2005-2006 (71 games, two goals, four assists, and 116 PIM) after the 2004-2005 lockout. He played an additional three years with the Habs and was also an
alternate Captain. His total contribution with the Canadiens was 361 games, 12 G, 46 A, and 496 PIM. As a free agent,
Komisarek signed a lucrative contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but never really got going and
didn’t record more than ten points in the three seasons with the Leafs. His struggles and
rich contract ultimately led to him being buried in the AHL where he played 11 games with the Toronto Marlies this past season.
Other notable 2001 draft selections: Alexander Perezhogin (2nd round, 25th pick overall); Tomas Plekanec (3rd round, 71st overall; a cornerstone of the franchise over the years and one of the only players to survive three rebuilding processes and still be kicking
around in 2013).
2002 1st round draft pick: Chris Higgins
Higgins from the University of Yale was picked 14th overall, and after a two game stint in 2003-2004, had a very good rookie season in 2005-2006 (23 G, 15 A in 80 games). His total numbers as a Hab were 282 games, 74 G, 62 A.
Other than a decent 2007-08 campaign (23 G, 15 A) Higgins is better known as a
piece of the infamous Scott Gomez trade with the New York Rangers. He played 55 games with the Rangers, had short stints with the Flames and Panthers, before
finally finding a home in Vancouver, where has spent the past three seasons where he hasn’t been able to match his career highs with the Habs.
2003 1st round draft pick: Andrei Kostitsyn
Bob Gainey’s first draft pick was Belarusian Andrei Kostitsyn of CSKA Moscow. He’s the eldest of the two brothers drafted by the Habs (his younger brother Sergei going as the 200th pick overall in the 2005 draft) and
there were high hopes after some promising performances with the Bulldogs in three years in the AHL
(including 52 points in 50 games in 2006-2007). Often on the same line with his younger brother once he joined the team, Andrei played six seasons in Montreal, posting totals of 379 games, 99 G (career high 26 in 2007-2008), 111 A, and 171 PIM. Following Sergei’s departure to Nashville, Andrei was traded to the Predators as well in 2011
for their playoff run. After missing curfew during the playoffs, Andrei
wasn’t re-signed, and he moved on to the KHL to play for Traktor Chelyabinsk.
Other notable 2003 draft selections: Maxim Lapierre (2nd round, 61st overall), Ryan O’Byrne (3rd round, 71st overall), Jaroslav Halak (9th round, 271st overall).
2004 1st round draft pick: Kyle Chipchura
Canadian Kyle Chipchura was the 18th overall pick of this draft, which saw Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin
going one and two respectively. Montreal passed on Mike Green, one the leagues’ top offensive defensemen, although they selected another eventual top defenseman in Mark Streit in the 9th round. Chipchura was a well-travelled player, mostly between Montreal and Hamilton for four seasons between 2005 and 2009
until he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a 4th round pick in 2011. He went on to join the Phoenix Coyotes and is currently
alternating between the NHL and AHL quite steadily. His modest Habs’ numbers
were 58 games, four goals, 10 assists, and 31 PIM.
Other notable 2004 draft selections: Alexei Emelin (3rd round, 84th pick overall), Mikhail Grabovski (5th round, 150th overall) Mark Streit (9th round, 278th overall)
2005 1st round draft pick: Carey Price
In the Sidney Crosby draft, Canadiens went for Carey Price, the last
‘Franchise Player to be’ picked by the Habs (we’ll see about Alex Galchenyuk in
a few years). A 5th pick overall, Price was Bob Gainey’s choice, electing to
pass on Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal, and offer Price what ESPN deemed "The
loneliest job in Sports". Price won a Gold Medal with the WJC Canadian National Junior team
and a Calder Cup before taking the number one spot away from Cristobal Huet in
his rookie year. His total stats to date with the Habs are: 310 games, 145-117-39, .915 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA.
Other notable 2005 draft selections: Guillaume Latendresse (2nd round, 45th overall), Sergei Kostitsyn (7th round, 200th overall).
2006 1st round draft pick: David Fischer
Going for D David Fischer as the 20th pick overall will not go down in history as Bob Gainey’s best move, especially
if you look just two picks lower and find Claude Giroux. Moreover, if you look 30 picks lower, you’ll find Milan Lucic.
Clearly a bust pick, Fischer never got an NHL contract with the Habs. He finished his four years at the University of Minnesota, played two modest seasons for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL before eventually moving to play for Heilbronner Falken of the 2nd German Hockey League.
Other notable 2006 draft selections: Ryan White (3rd round, 66th overall).
2007 1st round draft picks: Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty
This was quite a productive draft which included two 1st round picks and
yielded three regulars and a future superstar. Defenceman Ryan McDonagh
was taken 12th overall, while Max Pacioretty (via a San Jose trade for Craig
Rivet) was taken 22nd. Before completing his collegiate play, McDonagh was part of the Scott Gomez trade which sent him to the New York Rangers in June 2009,
where he has become a top 4 D (169 games, 12 G, 48 A). Interesting to note is that Lars Eller was picked
by St. Louis between Pacioretty and McDonagh and eventually reached the Habs via the Jaroslav Halak deal. Pacioretty evolved to be a top scorer for the Habs after becoming a regular half-way through the 2010-2011 season. His total NHL numbers stand tall at 246 games, 68 G, 85 A, and 153 PIM.
Other notable 2007 draft selections: P.K. Subban (2nd round, 43rd overall;
a Norris winner in 2012-2013 and another ‘Franchise Player’ for the years to come), Yannick Weber (3rd round, 73rd overall).
2008 1st round draft pick: None
The Habs opted to make a move to better their top-six forward group by trading their 1st round pick in this draft and their 2009 2nd round pick to the Calgary Flames for Alex Tanguay and a fifth round pick in this draft
(featuring the likes of Steven Stamkos).
The Habs’ first pick was Danny Kristo (2nd round, 56th overall), followed by Steve Quailer (3rd round, 86th overall); the other three picks are either not likely to be in the NHL anytime soon or were released prior to their entry-level contract deadline. Kristo seems to be the top prospect from this draft; a winger from North Dakota that
has won a gold medal at the 2010 WJC tournament, an NCAA championship, and WCHA Rookie of the Year award. He has had several off-ice incidents during this time,
which calls his maturity and focus into question. He suited up with
Hamilton for the first time late last year, and should see major minutes in the
AHL this year.
2009 1st round draft pick: Louis Leblanc
After John Tavares, Evander Kane, and Nazem Kadri had been taken, Montreal
drafted their first Quebec native in the first round for quite a while – Louis Leblanc
– at 18th overall. After a top rated junior career, and very good performances in Hamilton (11 goals and 11 assists in 31 games), he joined the Habs’ during the 2011-2012
season and used the team’s bad performance to get a roster spot and show some of his talent
for 10 points in 42 NHL games. After an injury during the offseason, Leblanc struggled mightily for most of this past season with the Bulldogs, but could still make a good run for a spot with the Habs in 2013-2014.
Other notable 2009 draft selections: Gabriel Dumont (5th round, 139th overall).
2010 1st round draft pick: Jarred Tinordi
Pierre Gauthier traded up for Jarred Tinordi, a 6’6, 212lb potential Hal Gill duplicate at 22nd overall in a draft headed by the Oilers’ Taylor Hall and the Bruins’ Tyler Seguin. Recognized as one of the OHL’s top defensemen playing for the London Knights, Tinordi
seems to have made the leap to the big league late last season, playing five
games in the regular season and being a regular during the playoffs. He and P.K. Subban appear likely to be the future face of the Habs’ defence.
Other notable 2010 draft selections: Brendan Gallagher (5th round, 147th
overall; a Calder Trophy finalist in 2012-2013, this 5’9, 178lb winger made the team out of training camp and never looked back, becoming a fan and media favourite white posting impressive numbers – 15 G and 13 A in 44 games. He’s part of the ‘Gallys’ – the
2013 rookie duo with Alex Galchenyuk and arguably a cornerstone of the franchise
for the next few seasons).
2011 1st round draft pick: Nathan Beaulieu
For the second straight year, the Habs went for a top defensive prospect in the 1st round, opting for Nathan Beaulieu as the 17th pick overall in a draft which yielded Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd overall), the most recent Calder Trophy winner. After an impressive rookie AHL year (seven goals, 24 assists in 67 games), Beaulieu was part of the ‘unofficial in-season youngsters tryouts’ conducted by Michel Therrien during the 2012-2013 season;
he took part in six games (two assists) and made a positive impression before giving way to Jarred Tinordi. Beaulieu had a quality first season in Hamilton and is likely to be a 1st
or 2nd choice call up during next season and will likely be a regular in 2014-2015 and beyond.
Other notable 2011 draft selections: Darren Dietz (5th round, 138th overall)
2012 1st round draft pick: Alex Galchenyuk
A terrible, terrible 2011-2012 season with a rock bottom finish in the Eastern Conference gave newly appointed GM Marc Bergevin quite a good starting point to his franchise rebuilding process – participation in the draft lottery and a 3rd pick overall. American Alex Galchenyuk was the pick and
based his first 53 NHL games (10 G, 20 A), he’ll be Montreal’s top forward
before too long. Already a surprise regular after the shortened training camp, Galchenyuk stood up to all expectations and is a player you build a team around for the years to come.
Other notable 2012 draft selections: Sebastian Collberg (2nd round, 33rd overall), Charles Hudon (5th round, 122nd overall) – both recently inked their entry level contracts.