The Montreal Canadiens have sent Eric Chouinard to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2003 entry draft.
The 22 year old Chouinard is the son of former Flames sniper Guy Chouinard. a former linemate of the Flyers’ Simon Gagne with the Quebec Remparts, was the Habs first round pick (16th overall) in the 1998 draft.
At the time, many expressed surprise that he was not taken sooner in the draft. Since then, however, Chouinard has experienced more downs than ups in his career, struggling with injuries and inconsistency.
Chouinard, who has dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship (he was born in Atlanta, while his father was playing for the Flames franchise before it moved to Calgary) played for Team Canada at the 2000 World Junior Championships. He performed poorly, tallying just 3 points (all goals) and struggling defensively in 7 games.
Subsequently, Chouinard has not done well in the American Hockey League. Chouinard played in 13 NHL for the Canadiens in the 2000-2001 season (1 G, 3 A) but was clearly overmatched in his relatively limited ice time. He has not earned another NHL recall to date.
Last season, Chouinard recorded just 19 goals and 42 points in 65 games for the American League’s Quebec Citadells– disappointing totals for a player with his size, strength and naturally soft hands.
This year, Chouinard didn’t have much chance to impress the Habs, as injuries limited him to just one preseason game before he was sent to the Utah Grizzlies. He played 32 games with the Grizzlies in 2002-2003, recording 12 goals and 12 assists.
Last Saturday, when Utah visited Philadelphia and downed the Phantoms by a 3-1 count, Chouinard had no less than four point blank scoring chances but couldn’t solve Phantoms’ goaltender Antero Niittymäki.
It is still not too late for Chouinard to turn around his career. The Flyers farm system is woefully thin in forward depth. Therefore, Chouinard’s acquisition is not a bad gamble for Philadelphia. However, the second round price tag seems a bit steep for a player who has, thus far, been a bust everywhere but the QMJHL level. The knee jerk reaction in Philadelphia is the Flyers gave up a little too much for someone who had worked his way out of the Canadiens plans. Of course, if Chouinard gets his career back on track in Philadelphia, the complaints will be a distant memory.