With the 2003 draft right around the corner, here’s a
look at the recent draft history of the Montreal Canadiens under General Manager
Andre Savard (2001 and 2002).
The ’01 draft was considered by many to be one of the
deeper drafts in some time, with some highly skilled players.
After several poor seasons at the draft table, Andre Savard’s job was
to turnaround a thin prospect pool, and upgrade the overall talent.
Sounds easy, but as a rookie GM, Savard and company had their hands full.
They had eight picks to work with, and four in the top 100, but most
importantly they had the seventh overall pick, the highest they’ve picked
since 1984. (Petr Svobada fifth
1st round, 7th overall, Mike
Komisarek-RD. The University of
Michigan star blueliner is a physical force both in size and his hitting
abilities. With his combo of size
and skating, it’s no wonder why he was chosen so high in the draft.
There just aren’t many 6’4" 240 lb defensemen that can skate
well with decent speed and hit like a freight truck, so when one comes along,
you have to pick him. At the
time, he was considered to have a weakness on offense, but after a fine rookie
season this year in the AHL, Komisarek showed major signs of improvement.
He has a good low heavy shot from the point, with a strong ability to get
it on net, which is the primary job for the pointman.
It’s still early, but for Andre Savard, making Komisarek his first pick
as the Canadiens GM was a great start.
1st round, 25th, Alex
Perezhogin-RW. With the trade
of Trevor Linden, Dainius Zubrus, and the Habs second round pick (acquired from
NJ) to Washington for Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis and the Caps first round pick,
Savard and company were able to take a gamble with an extra 1st round
pick. Perezhogin was
considered by scouts to be a bit of a project, but there were no questions about
his ability to score goals, scoring 47 goals in a lower level league in Russia.
An excellent skater, with speed and good hands, the Habs looked to
improve their goal scoring abilities. But
playing under ex-Pens coach Ivan Hlinka for Omsk in the Russian Super Leauge,
Perezhogin has learned to play a two-way game getting time on the
2nd round, 37th overall, Duncan
Milroy-RW. Milroy was
playing in the WHL where he racked up 92 points in his draft year for the Swift
Current Broncos. A strong character
guy, Milroy just knows where to be at the right times.
After being traded to the Kootenay Ice, Duncan turned it up several
notches, helping his team win the WHL championship and the Memorial Cup.
He was named the MVP of the playoffs, where he racked up 37 points in 21
games. Recently signed this summer,
Milroy should be in Hamilton next year.
3rd round, 71st, Thomas
was playing for Kladno in the Czech league, which is the men’s league, a great
experience for a young player. A
gifted forward that is blessed with very good stickhandling, skating, and
instincts with the puck, Plekanec may be on the small size, but there’s
no question of his skill level. Signed
last summer to play in Hamilton, Thomas has a strong rookie season in North
America, adapting to the new culture, language, and hockey style.
He should get top line ice time in Hamilton next year.
4th round, 109th, Marttie
Jarventie-LD. With a thin
blueline, the Habs looked to overage Finnish defensemen Jarventie to fill
a need right away. Known for his
abilities on offense, while playing in the Finnish Elite League for TPS, the
Habs picked him to help out in Quebec, and a brief stint in the NHL (1 game).
A shoulder injury this year, and a newborn baby, he was given permission
to return home for this season, but he is expected back next season, as he will
be needed in Hamilton.
6th round, 171st, Eric
played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL, but he was traded to the Barrie Colts
last summer. A small but
skilled center, that was one of the most consistent prospects the Habs had, but
he was not signed this summer, thus he will go back into the draft.
He still could be redrafted, but that’s highly unlikely.
7th round, 203rd, Andrew
Archer-RD. A lack of depth on
right defense could have been the reason to pick the large blueliner.
Playing for the Oshawa Generals, Archer was traded to the Guelph Storm of
the OHL. Archer didn’t
produce at Oshawa recording only two points in 50+ games, but after being
traded, he picked up 39 points the next three seasons.
Not known for his offence, the stay at home defenseman plays a smart safe
game not taking many chances, but being solid in his own end.
With his long reach and 6’4" frame, the captain of Guelph was
signed this summer to play in Hamilton next season.
8th round, 266th, Victor
Ujcik-LW. With the lack
of skilled forwards in our prospect pool at the time of the ’01 draft, Savard
took a chance on overage Euro Ujcik, who was a veteran of the Czech
Senior League. A small but skillful
winger, that knows who to put the puck in the net, Ujcik was drafted as a
gamble to come over, as he is over 30 years old, and not known to be considering
coming to North America anytime soon. He
does have international experience playing for the Czech National Team.
The ’02 draft was considered to be not as deep as some of
the earlier drafts. The Habs had
the 15th overall pick, and a total of six picks in the draft. Here’s how it went,
1st round, 14th overall, Chris
Higgins, C. After a trade with
the Oilers to move up one spot, the Habs selected Higgins from the Yale Bulldogs
of the ECAC in the NCAA. Higgins
had a strong freshman year at Yale, where he was their leading scorer; in
addition he also was the leading scorer for USA’s Junior National Team at the
World Championships. Just recently
signed by the Habs this summer, Higgins brings a lot of skill and hard work,
where he will be looked to add offense next year in Hamilton most likely.
2nd round, 45th overall, Thomas
Linhart, LD. A stay at home
defenseman from the Czech Junior League, Linhart may have been picked for
his crease clearing abilities, which the Habs sorely lack.
A questionable pick to many, as he was taken much earlier then expected,
with several top notched players still available.
A shaky rookie year in North America did nothing to help fans question
more of who wasn’t taken with this pick, but not having a third round pick
could have influenced the decision. Needs
to have a strong year next season to be offered a contract.
4th round, 99th overall, Michael
Lambert, C/LW. The Habs traded
with the Flames to move up a few spots to grab Lambert who was played in
their own back yard. He plays for
the Montreal Rocket, who just happens to play in the same building as the Habs,
the Bell Center. He had a strong
draft year, but this season he wasn’t as physical, and was a healthy scratch
at times. A gifted forward who can
find the back of the net, he will need a strong season next year to earn a
6th round, 182nd overall, Andre
Deveaux, C/RW. A big physical
forward that the Habs lack, Deveaux racked up the PIMs this season, while
showing good progression in his production over last year.
Still needs work in his own end, but a lack of big physical forwards
works in his favor.
7th round, 212th overall, Jonathan
Ferland, RW. Power
forward in the making, Ferland plays a strong physical game with soft hands.
An overager in the draft, his skating is a question mark, but if he can
overcome that, the Habs get a solid prospect added to their organization.
His penalty minutes are decreasing while his point production increases.
A +48 this year was one of the tops in the QMJHL, and just might earn him
a contract this summer. A lack of
power forwards in the Habs system helps his chances to be signed.
9th round, 275th overall, Konstantin
Korneev, RD. A smallish
blueliner from Russia, Korneev was taken after his solid play at the U-18
tournament where he had to play third line center due to team injuries.
Playing for the Russian Junior National Team, in addition to being on the
top pairing on his team in the Russian Super League, Korneev is a darkhorse
prospect that could surprise a lot of fans with his skillful play.
Another solid tournament at the World Junior Championships this year,
where his team got the gold and Korneev was solid in his own end, amongst the
top +/- players in the entire tournament. After
another year in the RSL and some added weight (hopefully) he should force
management to bring him over.
That’s all of Savard’s picks to date.
To sum it up, he’s taken 14 players so far.
Two from the NCAA, six from the CHL- 1 WHL, 2 QMJHL, 3 OHL, and six
players from the European leagues- 2 Russians, 3 Czech’s, and 1 Finland.
Out of the 14, two were overage Euro’s from the first draft, while
three more were a year older.
Picks in 2003
round 10th overall.
round 40th overall.
round 61st overall. (acquired in the Eric Chouinard trade)
round 79th overall.
round 109th overall. (acquired in the Oleg Petrov trade)
round 113th overall.
round 177th overall.
round 188th overall. (acquired in the Doug Gilmore trade)
round 241st overall.
round 271st overall.
original 5th round pick (147th) was traded to the Oilers
for coach Claude Julien.
original 7th round pick (207th) was traded to the Wild for