Having traded away their number one pick in this year’s draft to the New York Islanders, the Canadiens will have a simple plan on draft day; Draft the best player available. Without a number one pick the Habs are aware that any player drafted from the second round on will take several years to develop. This being said, it would be unwise to draft a player in order to fill a hole in your roster, as that hole is unlikely to exist by the time that player is ready for the NHL.
Currently the Habs need depth at center. Yet those holes will likely be filled within the next 2 years, as they have two solid prospects at center with Eric Chouinard and Mike Ribeiro. They are deep in Goaltending at the moment with Jose Theodore and Mathieu Garon toiling in the minors. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Habs’ management won’t take a look at Maxime Ouellete if he’s still available come the second round. Another need is offensive depth on the wings.
The Habs have not drafted a defenseman in the first two rounds since 1995, when they drafted Miloslav Guren in the second round. They have chosen a player from Quebec in one of the first two rounds every year since 1996. Last year they used there first 3 picks to choose players from Quebec; Chouinard in the first round, Ribeiro in the second round and Francios Beauchemin in the third round. This last trend could be by chance, but is more likely by design.
Ronald Corey, the Canadiens’ president since 1982, announced that he would be stepping down from his current post, effective July 31st. Corey sited his family and his health as the two main reasons for tabling his resignation. He has been struggling with bouts of asthma, at times waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Doctors believe job stress to be the likely reason for his health problems.
Corey also mentioned his frustration with the economic challenges now faced by Canadian and small market clubs in today’s NHL. As well as the Habs $9 million municipal-tax burden being paid on the Molson Center. A tax bill larger than the NHL’s 21 U.S-based teams combined.
Molson plans to hire an executive-recruitment firm to help find Corey’s replacement. The brewery will also look at the feasibility of splitting up Corey’s former responsibilities into two jobs. Hiring one person to be president of the hockey club and another to run the Molson Center.
Serge Savard has been mentioned as the early favourite to replace Corey as president of the hockey club. Other candidates rumoured include; Bob Gainey, Glen Sather, Pierre Lacroix and Ken Dryden.
Rejean Houle was visibly surprised by the news. When asked about his job security following Corey’s announcement, Houle simply said that he had a mandate to complete and will continue his job of trying to build a competitive team for the upcoming season.
Other Notes: Read more»
The Canadiens promoted 3 of their top 4 junior prospects immediately following each player’s elimination from post-season play. The 3 players promoted to Fredericton were Mike Ribeiro, Eric Chouinard and Jason Ward. Ward has had the most success since his promotion, proving himself to be a solid bet to eventually play on one of the Habs’ top 2 lines. Chouinard has also had success, the bulk of which has been in the offensive zone. Ribeiro, on the other hand has struggled, size and strength being the likely reasons.
Russian defenseman Andrei Markov(the Habs 6th round selection, 162nd overall in the 98 draft) played very well in the recent World Championships in Norway. He had 1 goal and 4 assists in 6 games, and finished a solid +3.
POS HT/WT AGE DRAFTED
(c) 5’10’/167 Lbs. 19 D-Mtl98 (2-45)
GP G A PTS +- PIM PPG SHG
99 PLAYOFF (AHL) 3 0 1 1 -5 0 0 0
99 PLAYOFF (QMJHL) 11 5 11 16 -3 12 3 0
98-99 SEASON 69 67 100 167 +52 137 24 8
#1 Strength- Vision and creativity.
#1 Weakness- Size. Read more»
POS HT WT AGE DRAFTED
Michael Ryder C 6-0 180 19 D-Mtl98 (8/216)
GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH
98-99 Stats 69 44 43 87 +4 65 15 4
98-99 Playoff 23 20 16 36 +6 39 7 4
#1 Strength- Vision and creativity.
#1 Weakness- Size.
With a strong regular season and an impressive playoff performance, Michael Ryder has developed into the biggest surprise of the Canadiens’ 1998 draft choices. Chosen in the 8th round, 216th overall, Ryder has great skating ability with quick acceleration. Although he can beat opposing defensemen on the outside, his greatest asset is his instinctive scoring ability.
Born in St.John’s Newfoundland, Ryder is a 6’0″, 180 Lbs. Center with the Hull Olympiques. Drafted by Hull in the 1997 QMJHL midget draft, Ryder went on to finish 5th among the QMJHL’s rookie scorers in 1997-98.
Ryder was not seen as one of the Habs’ top prospects until his performance in this year’s playoffs. His 98-99 regular season totals were strong but not impressive. He scored 11 more goals than the Habs’ 2nd pick in the 1997 entry draft, Gregor Baumgartner, and equaled the Habs’ 1st pick in the 1998 entry draft, Eric Chouinard, in PPG’s with 15. Ironically, the only negative from the regular season was his a weak plus/minus of +4.
Everyone thought he was done. The show was over, and the curtains were closed. But apparently, that was just the epilogue. In the last month Jose Theodore has stepped out from behind the curtain, into the spotlight, and yet again become a young phenom.
The latest show has been based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Theodore, after winning player of the week awards, goaltender of the month, and praise from many of his critics, seems to have nestled back into the idea of being a starting goalie. His numbers in Montreal as a backup weren’t good at all: only 3 wins, 12 losses, a GAA over 3.50, and numerous other less-than-satisfactory statistics. But the truth has come out: Theodore is a future starter.
Just this past week, after losing two straight and going back to Fredericton for game five of the AHL quarter finals, Theodore led his Canadiens, with a 32 save performance, and seized victory in a 3-2 win, and a 3-2 series win, pitting the Canadiens against the Saint John Flames in round two.
Can he keep it up? He said this week that he loves the pressure, and the outlook is that, yes, he can keep it up. Only time will tell, but it is likely that Theodore will be challenging Domenichelli, Sorochan, and Saint John, and maybe even upsetting the early favourites.