Canadiens 2003 draft review

By Dan Linn

With one of the deepest drafts in a long time, the Habs used 11 picks to bolster an already solid prospect group.

Andrei Kostsitsyn, RW. 1st round, 10th overall. 6’0″ 189. There was a lot of hype surrounding Kostsitsyn after a very impressive U-18 tournament last April, where he was the leading scorer with 15 points on a weak Belarus team. A highly skilled winger that has bulked up recently, which should help him make more room for himself in the Russian Super League (plays for CSKA). His skating, speed, and abilities with the puck are his main assets. A lack of defensive play and added strength will need to be improved. Should get a look at camp this summer.

Cory Urquhart, C. 2nd round, 40th overall. 6’3 195. Playing in the Habs building, and under ex Habs coach Alain Vigneault, Savard and company must have seen something they liked in the highly skilled pivot. Not a physical player, but has good size that he recently started to use. Has a good scoring touch, and knows how to create scoring chances. He stepped up his game in the playoffs, and was second on his team in scoring this year. In his 71 games this year, he picked up 78 points (35-43-78), was a +5, with only 28 pims and 10 PPG.

Maxim Lapierre, C. 2nd round, 61st overall. 6’1 180. Another player from the Rocket, Lapierre is coming off a solid rookie season. He started the year off as more of a free wheeling player, but under new coach Vigneault, he became a solid two-way center. Considered to be a very good skater, with a powerful stride and great balance, the Habs may have been interested in the hard work, intensity, and disciplined style of hockey he plays. Was a +13, and picked up 43 points in his rookie year (22-21-43).

Ryan O’Bryne, RD. 3rd round, 79th overall. 6’5″ 210. Taken from the BCJHL, O’Bryne is said to be a very good skater for such a big kid. Not much is known about him, but we will get a look at him next year, as he will play in the ECAC next year for Cornell, one of the top teams in the NCAA this year.

Corey Locke, C. 4th round, 113th overall. 5’8.5″. 170. The leading scorer of the CHL this year, Locke racked up the points, with 151 in just 66 games while being a +47. A small but highly skilled center that is blessed with great on ice vision and passing skills. He will need to work on his skating speed to help him avoid backcheckers and big blueliners, while also improving his overall strength. But his 2.29 point per game average speaks volumes for his abilities to produce on offence, and his 38 points in 23 playoff games this year, so that he can produce when it counts. A gamble pick, but one that could pay big dividends down the road.

Danny Stewart, LW. 4th round, 123rd overall. 6’0″ 175. Stewart was 3rd on his team in scoring, but was a –43 on a horrid team (Rimouski). A small but offensively skilled forward, he will have to work on his defensive game, playing more physical, and improving his overall strength, if he hopes to make the NHL someday.

Christopher Heino-Lindberg, G. 6th round, 177th overall. 6’0″ 163. Considered to be the top goalie prospect from Sweden in this draft, plays for Tier 2 Hammarby, and was a member of Sweden’s U-18 in April. Small but athletic, the young goalie will have several years to develop his game in Sweden.

Mark Flood, RD. 6th round, 188th overall. 6’1 180. Flood plays for Peterborough of the OHL, known for producing its share of NHLers, he will have his work cut out for him. Average size may go against him, but “he’s a great skater that moves the puck well and has a good understanding of the game”, according to an OHL scout. What may have interested management was his improvement over last year’s stats. In 57 games he had only 5 points, but this year, in 68 games, he was able to pick up 29 points and he was a +10.

Oskari Korpikari, LD. 7th round, 217th overall. 6’2″ 198. Korpikari plays in the Finnish Elite league. A defensive defensemen, Korpikari has gotten high praise from his coach for his steady play in his own end. He could earn a spot on the top pairing next year if he continues to progress. At 19, he was able to play in all 15 of his team’s playoff games, which is great experience for a young blueliner playing in a men’s league.

Jimmy Bonneau, LW. 8th round, 241st overall. 6’3″ 217. Bonneau is another player from the former Montreal Rocket (along with Urquhart and Lapierre), but the big left wing is known for his abilities to stick up for his teammates and drop the gloves. Racking up 261 penalty minutes as a rookie, Bonneau wont hurt you on the score sheet (only one goal all season but it was a game winner), but he won’t back down from any player and he enjoys mixing it up at any time. A hard working player that could be playing on the third line next year, an increased role which would bring more ice time then the five minutes he was getting this year.

Jaroslav Halak, G. 9th round, 271st overall. 5’11″ 165. Halak is fresh off a silver medal win for Team Slovak at the recent U-18 tournament, where he put up impressive numbers and was named the top goalie of the U-18 tournament. Playing in the Czech junior league, Halak will have a few years to show what he can do, while the Habs add depth to the goalie position.

All in all, three centers, two left wings, one right wing, three defensemen, and two goalies were taken by the Canadiens. There were seven players from North America, six of those from the CHL, four out of the QMJHL and two from the OHL, with one from the BCJHL but soon to be NCAA. In terms of nationality, there were four players from overseas, one Swede, one Finn, one Slovak and one Belarussian.