"With the 18th pick, the Montreal Canadiens
are proud to select… no one of consequence."
– historically speaking, that is. As the 2009
draft draws nearer, every Habs fan is obviously hoping the team will land a gem.
But with the Montreal Canadiens currently holding the 18th overall pick,
previous selections at that draft spot haven’t generally panned out positively.
The list is a short one of 6 players, most of them with forgettable
contributions to the Canadiens. Here’s a brief look at those players and their
miniscule part in Habs history.
Montreal first selected 18th overall in 1976,
taking Bruce Baker as their third and last selection of that round. He
never played an NHL game, instead opting to play in the American Hockey League in
Nova Scotia for 5 years.
The very next year, the Canadiens selected
Normand Dupont. He only played in Montreal for one season, managing 4 points
in 35 games. When playing for Winnipeg the next season, he notched what would
prove to be his career high in goals (27) and assists (26). Dupont put up
respectable numbers in his 3 remaining NHL seasons before moving on to play in
While Normand was enjoying a 27 goal season in
1981, the Habs were selecting Gilbert Delorme who was arguably Montreal’s
finest use of an 18th overall pick. Though playing for 5 teams in 9 years
warrants the label "journeyman defenseman," Delorme’s 165 games in Montreal
makes him the longest lasting player amongst his 18th overall – bleu, blanc et
rouge brethren. His 53 points as a Habs also tops the list.
Montreal had to wait thirteen years to select
18th again, and took Brad Brown who only played thirteen games for the
Canadiens. Though he had a steady, if unspectacular, career in the NHL, he is
best known to Habs fans for being traded along with Jocelyn Thibault and Dave
Manson to Chicago for Jeff Hackett, Eric Weinrich and Alain Nasreddine in 1998.
Matt Higgins was Montreal’s 1st round
selection in 1996, and holds the distinction of being the most disappointing
bust on this list (yes, even beating out Bruce Baker). Though Baker never played
a single game for Montreal, there is a fair argument that Matt Higgins
shouldn’t have played a single game for Montreal, thus making his 57 games
played all the more painful. He notched 1 goal and 2 assists for the Canadiens,
and never played for another NHL team.
The list ends with the 2004 selection, Kyle
Chipchura. He has 49 games played in Montreal over two seasons, registering
4 goals and 10 assists total. Though he played fewer NHL games last season than
the season before, that unnerving career direction is somewhat offset by
improved numbers in the AHL. It’s still far too early to determine whether he’ll
buck the trend set by his predecessors picked in the 18th spot, or if he’ll
follow their well worn trail of mediocrity in Montreal.
So here we are in 2009, and Montreal picks
18th. Whether Montreal ends up trading the pick, or risks historical precedent
and drafts right where they are, it’s safe to say that this is one Montreal
Canadiens "legacy" that no one wants to see continue.