If you tuned in to the first round of this year’s entry draft on television, you wouldn’t even think Montreal had a franchise in the NHL. Without a first round pick (traded to the Islanders for Trevor Linden) the Habs were all but invisible during this year’s draft coverage.
The Habs concentrated on drafting skilled forwards and big defenseman, while throwing two goaltenders into the mix. The loss of a first round pick was partially made up for by 2 picks in the second round, 2 picks in the fourth round, 3 picks in the fifth round and one pick in each of the final 4 rounds. The following is a list of the Habs’ draft picks in the order in which they were picked.
POS HT/WT DOB DRAFTED
Alexander Buturlin (rw) 6’0″/182 Lbs. Sep.3/81 D-Mtl99 (2-39)
GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH
98-99 Stats 16 1 0 1 – 6 – –
#1 Strength- Speed and Skill
#1 Weakness- Size.
Buturlin has tremendous skill and can play at any forward position. This versatility is one of his many up-sides. He is aggressive even though his lack of size is a concern. He was ranked 4th among Europeans by the CSB.
POS HT/WT DOB DRAFTED
Matt Carkner (d) 6’4″/215 Lbs. Nov.3/80 D-Mtl99 (2-58)
GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH
98-99 Stats 60 2 16 18 +15 173 – -
Before the trade deadline in this past season, the Montreal Canadiens dealt two of their top veterans: captain Vincent Damphousse, who is one of the three Canadiens left from the 1993 Stanley Cup win, and assistant captain Mark Recchi, who led the team in goals three out of the four years that he was wearing the Red, White and Blue.
Both Recchi and Damphousse were dealt for the future; Recchi to Philly for Zubrus and a draft pick, Damphousse to San Jose for a second and fifth round draft pick. However, there was a stipulation. If the Sharks made the second round in the playoffs, with Damphousse averaging at least a point per game, Montreal would get the Sharks’ first round draft pick. Also, if San Jose re-signed Damphousse, Montreal would get the Sharks’ first round pick, rather than their second. It was rumoured the San Jose Sharks were vigorously attempting to re-sign Vince Damphousse. Last night Damphousse signed with the Sharks to a four year $18 million dollar contract.
It seemed as if Montreal was finally doing what was needed: rebuilding. Hold on there; Montreal rebuilding, isn’t that an oxymoron? Not only would the fans not accept it, but more importantly, the Molsons wouldn’t get that playoff revenue. Unfortunately for the prospects wasting away in Fredericton (soon to be Quebec City), the Habs officially ended their rebuilding process once they dealt their first round pick to the New York Islanders for veteran Trevor Linden.
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»