Canadiens 2000 draft evaluation

By Dan Linn

Five years ago, the Montreal Canadiens went into the 2000 NHL Entry Draft with 11 picks including two first round picks thanks to the trade of Vincent Damphousse to San Jose. After not having a first round pick for the 1999 draft, the Canadiens had the 13th and 16th overall picks. They had not had two first round picks since 1985. The 2000 draft would also mark the final one for Canadiens GM Rejean Houle as Andre Savard would end up taking over for him by the 2001 draft.

Only three of the 11 picks have seen any NHL time so far, for a grand total of 108 games, and average of 10 games per pick, but the final judgment of this draft will rest in the production of the first three picks, all three of which have a great deal of skill but have not put their games completely together just yet.

Ron Hainsey, D – 24 – 1st round, 13th overall (Umass-Lowell, NCAA)
NHL games played: 32
Status: NHL prospect

A bit of a surprise pick at the time, the then freshman from UMass-Lowell did not put up great numbers and was expected to go later in the first round. But with the lack of depth on defense as well as offensive skill on the blueline for the Canadiens, the pick filled a need. Hainsey has shown flashes of great skill but other times has been wildly inconsistent and a victim of metal errors. He has played 32 NHL games over two seasons. In 2004-05, Hainsey had 23 points in 68 games playing with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Marcel Hossa, LW – 23 – 1st round, 16th overall (Portland Winter Hawks, WHL)
NHL games played: 59
Status: NHL prospect

Hossa created a great deal of buzz when drafted, as the younger brother of the highly skilled Marian Hossa of the Ottawa Senators. Drafted as a center, the 6’0 Slovakian has since been moved to the wing. Hossa, much like Hainsey, has shown flashes of a high level of skill but also has shown a great deal of inconsistency and a lack of intensity. This season he played for Mora IK of the Swedish Elite League where he had 24 points in 28 games. He has played 59 NHL games, spread over three seasons, and had 19 points total.

Josef Balej, RW – 23 – 3rd round, 78th overall (Portland Winter Hawks, WHL)
NHL games played: 17
Status: NHL prospect

A teammate of Hossa’s at Portland and a fellow countryman, the Canadiens took a chance on the offensively skilled Balej. He impressed management in his first camp appearance, displaying a great deal of speed and natural scoring abilities. After a great season in the AHL last year, Canadiens GM Bob Gainey traded Balej to the NY Rangers for Alex Kovalev. This season Balej had 42 points in 69 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack, and has played 17 NHL games over two seasons with the Canadiens and the Rangers. He had five points in those 17 games.

Tyler Hanchuck, D – 23 – 3rd round, 79th overall (Brampton Battalion, OHL)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Hanchuck was selected after an average season in the OHL, and was a pick that many at the time didn’t understand, as he didn’t excel in any one area. Once Andre Savard took over as GM, he chose not to sign the 6’3 defender. Hanchuck re-entered the draft, but he was not reselected, and since then has played for five different teams in the AHL, UHL and CHL. This past season he played 60 games for the Topeka Tarantulas of the CHL, and one game for the AHL Milwaukee Admirals.

Johan Eneqvist, C/LW – 23 – 4th round, 109th overall (Leksands IF, Sweden Junior)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Eneqvist was selected after having a very good season in the Swedish junior league, and made his debut in the Swedish Elite league the next season. Eneqvist did impress management in his first appearance at the Canadiens rookie camp two years ago, but since then has not shown a great deal of improvement in the tier-2 league. In 2004-05, he had 26 points in 41 games with Hammarby IF.

Christian Larrivee, LW – 22 – 4th round, 114th overall (Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Larrivee was selected after an average rookie season with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL, but went on to have a very solid career for the Sags. Drafted as a center, he has since been moved to the wing, with his best assets still his vision and playmaking skills. Larrivee has shown he can play at the ECHL level, but has yet to earn a full time roster spot in the AHL, although he should be there next season. This season he had 29 points in 53 games for the ECHL Long Beach Ice Dogs, and one point in nine games with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.

Ryan Glenn, D – 24 – 5th round, 145th overall (St. Lawrence University, NCAA)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Glenn enjoyed a solid career while at St. Lawrence, but the Canadiens chose not to sign the defenseman. This season he was signed by the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL and even saw time in the AHL with affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack. A solid all-around defensemen, the 6’2 Glenn doesn’t excel in any one area, but does play a safe smart game and has a decent amount of skills. He had 28 points in 61 games for Charlotte, and no points in 11 games with Hartford.

Scott Selig, RW – 23 – 6th round, 172nd overall (USHS)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Selig was also not signed by the Canadiens, but he has not had the success that Glenn has had since graduating. Selig had a tough time finding a team to catch on with this year after finishing at Northeastern. He did end up playing in the CHL for the Oklahoma City Blazers, where once again he had much difficulty producing offensively with only nine points in 30 games. Once touted as an offensive power forward during his USHS days of prep school hockey, Selig never lived up to the bill while at Northeastern.

Petr Chvojka, D – 23 – 6th round, 182nd overall (Plzen HC, Czech)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Chvojka was chosen after seeing very limited ice time in the Czech elite league in 1999-00. He did go on to have two solid seasons in the WHL for the Medicine Hat Tigers, but was never given a contract by the Canadiens. He returned to the Czech elite league in 2002-03 and played eight games, his last in a worthwhile league.

Joni Puurula, G – 22 – 8th round, 243rd overall (Hermes Kokkola, Finland-2)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Puurula has shown promise as a solid goalie prospect. After a strong showing in the Finnish elite league playoffs two seasons ago, Puurula was the starter for HPK at the age of 21 at the beginning of this season. He ended up losing his starting position, however, and went on to leave the team for the Russian Super league where he had a decent season playing for Salavat Yulayev.

Jonathan Gauthier, D – 25 – 9th round, 275th overall (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Gauthier was drafted as an older CHLer after he had a great year for Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL, with 81 points in 70 games as a 19-year-old. But Gauthier was never given a contract with the Canadiens and has since bounced around the ECHL and into the Quebec semi-pro league this year, unlikely to ever see any NHL action.

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