The Habs have had some important players from Alberta suit up for them over the years. Some have played big roles while others have been key role players. Here are the results of our top line poll.
Voters were asked to pick three forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie.
Brendan Gallagher (99.6% of votes): Every now and then, teams find a late-round gem in the draft. Gallagher is one of those. A late fifth-round pick in 2010, he nearly made the team as a 19-year-old and didn’t need much time in the minors before becoming a regular partway through his age-20 season. Since then, he has become one of Montreal’s more consistent offensive performers. Despite his small stature, Gallagher has shown a willingness to get involved physically and around the net where he scores a good chunk of his goals from and he is a big part of their leadership core as well. The Habs have also had the good fortune of benefitting from a below-market deal but as he is just a year away from UFA eligibility for the first time, that will likely change if they keep him around.
Canadiens Stats: 547 GP, 173 goals, 161 assists, 334 points, +58 rating, 312 PIMS, 1,748 shots
Brian Skrudland (87.5% of votes): At a time where the Habs were a high-scoring team, Skrudland wasn’t among their top scorers. Instead, he was a valuable defensive centre who would chip in with 10-12 goals per season with a higher than average rate for getting game-winners. Signed as an undrafted free agent, he spent parts of eight years with the Canadiens in that role which is quite a good return on a UDFA pickup. In 1993, Montreal decided they needed some more offence so they moved Skrudland to Calgary for Gary Leeman (who didn’t last too long but contributed down the stretch that season). Skrudland wound up with Florida later in 1993 in the expansion draft and spent four years there before finishing up with the Rangers in Stars. He hung up his skates in 1999.
Canadiens Stats: 475 GP, 78 goals, 139 assists, 217 points, +86 rating, 592 PIMS, 549 shots
Trevor Linden (59.0% of votes): In his prime, Linden was an offensively-gifted power forward that could really impact the game. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite the version that Montreal got. Instead, the one they had was a player that could handle a spot on the second line but at a much lower level of production. After trading a first-round pick to the Islanders to get him in 1999, the Canadiens dealt him two years later as part of the big trade with Washington that landed Richard Zednik and Jan Bulis as part of the return, both of which spent five years with Montreal to make that initial trade look a little better. Meanwhile, Linden didn’t last long with the Capitals before heading back to Vancouver (where he spent the first nine years of his career). He spent parts of six more seasons with the Canucks before retiring in 2008 at 37.
Canadiens Stats: 107 GP, 25 goals, 38 assists, 63 points, -5 rating, 65 PIMS, 226 shots
Just Missed The Cut: Darcy Tucker
Sheldon Souray (98.8% of votes): When the Habs got Souray as part of the Vladimir Malakhov trade, he was a depth defender who played with some physicality but not much else. However, things seemed to click in 2003-04. After scoring 13 goals in his first five years combined, he had 15 that year as his booming point shot started to wreak havoc despite wrist problems earlier in his career. Two seasons later, he scored a whopping 19 goals on the power play alone. Souray was never the most adept in his own end but he became a capable top pairing defender before leaving following his career year in 2006-07. He spent three years with Edmonton before being farmed out to Washington’s farm team which resulted in a buyout a year later. Souray played two more years after that – one with Dallas and one with Anaheim – before retiring in 2013.
Canadiens Stats: 324 GP, 62 goals, 98 assists, 160 points, -44 rating, 556 PIMS, 810 shots
Kevin Haller (61.7% of votes): Haller wasn’t a particularly flashy player in his limited tenure with Montreal but he was a steady presence in their Cup-winning season in 1993. Things started to go downhill offensively for him after that; after recording 25 points in 92-93, he never had more than 14 in his career despite seeing some time in a second pairing role. The Habs flipped him to Philadelphia in 1994 for Yves Racine (who was gone on waivers within two years) and he never lasted more than three years in one place after that, spending time with the Flyers, Whalers/Hurricanes, Ducks, and Islanders where he suffered a career-ending groin injury in 2001.
Canadiens Stats: 149 GP, 17 goals, 25 assists, 42 points, +14 rating, 252 PIMS, 207 shots
Just Missed The Cut: Brett Kulak
Doug Soetaert (57.4% of votes): Soetaert spent two years as Montreal’s backup (one year behind Steve Penney, one behind Patrick Roy). The first season was not pretty at all but in 1985-86, his numbers were quite a bit better than Roy’s as he had arguably the best year of his career. That landed him a free agent deal with the Rangers in the 1986 offseason but a disastrous showing ended his tenure with them in a hurry and his career in the process.
Canadiens Stats: 51 GP, 25-16-6 record, 3.14 GAA, .873 SV%, 3 SO
Just Missed The Cut: Alex Auld
Be sure to check back on Monday for the next Canadian edition of our poll series.