Canadiens 2005 draft evaluation

By Ian Bross

The Montreal Canadiens made seven selections in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.

Picking fifth overall, the team had not owned such a high choice since 1984. With depth up front and on the blueline, they turned their eyes to the goaltender position with their first pick. 

Carey Price, G,  Tri-City Americans (WHL) – 1st round, 5th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 134

In Price, Montreal saw a potential franchise netminder. Noted for his agility and quick reflexes, during the season of his draft eligibility, Price was among the WHL‘s elite each in statistical category. He participated in the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game and led Canada to a silver medal at the U-18 World Championships.

It was in 2006-07 that Price broke out as an elite prospect. He was named the CHL’s Goaltender of the Year and was the starting goaltender for Team Canada at the 2007 WJC, guiding them to a gold medal and earning tournament MVP. Following Tri-City’s elimination from the WHL playoffs, Price joined the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL, leading the team to a Calder Cup Championship. He posted a 15-6 record with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

Price’s young NHL career has already seen numerous highs and lows. Though maligned at times for inconsistency, Price has a more than legitimate chance of one day establishing himself as a bona fide starting goaltender in the NHL.

Guillaume Latendresse, LW, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) – 2nd round, 45th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 287

As a 16-year-old rookie in the QMJHL, Latendresse more than held his own. He may have received even more recognition had it not been for another 16-year-old who held the spotlight – Sidney Crosby. Latendresse had 49 points in 53 games that season, which was cut short early by a shoulder injury. Though the injury required surgery, Latendresse followed up his strong debut with 78 points in 65 games in 2004-05.

With a combination of size, standing 6’2 and weighing 222 pounds, skill, and skating ability, Latendresse seemed to have all the tools to be successful as a power forward in the NHL. Throughout the Montreal prospect pool, such a player was rarity. After falling to the second round of the draft, the club sacrificed two picks in order to move up and take Latendresse. He then went on to make a convincing case for himself in 2005-06, his last QMJHL season, scoring 105 points in 51 games. He made the move directly to Montreal a season later.

Unable to break out in bleu, blanc et rouge, Latendresse was shipped to the Minnesota Wild in November 2009 for Benoit Pouliot. The change of scenery did him well. After scoring two goals and one assist in 23 games with Montreal at the beginning of the season, Latendresse scored 25 goals and 12 assists in 55 games with the Wild. He appears to be on his way to establishing himself as a top-six forward in the NHL.

Juraj Mikus, C, Skalica HK 36 (Slovakia) – 4th round, 121st overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Mikus is a right-handed, speedy, playmaking center. Drafted out of his home country, Slovakia, Mikus joined the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in 2006-07. As a 19-year-old, he had a solid, but not spectacular season, with 71 points in 60 games. Mikus returned to Slovakia and found success, particularly in 2008-09. Against older competition, Mikus managed an output of 31 goals and 59 assists for a total 90 points in 56 games.

In July 2009, Mikus signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings. He made his professional debut in North America for the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs this past season. Mikus had 13 points in 56 games. He has played wing in addition to center. Mikus’ game still needs to be polished if he is to make it to the NHL. He is still a prospect for the time being, but his chances to achieve success are running out.

Mathieu Aubin, C, Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL) – 5th round, 130th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Aubin flourished, in particular, the season after he was drafted by Montreal. Drafted as a center and converted to a winger, in 2005-06, Aubin scored 47 goals and 56 assists in 70 games and was relatively capable in all zones. He left junior soon after. Aubin’s transition to the pros wasn’t smooth, however. Though he possesses good size, he has been either reluctant or unable to use it effectively. His skating has also been exposed since trying to make it at the professional level.

Aubin hasn’t been able to carve out a place for himself at the AHL level. He has dressed in 69 games for Hamilton over three seasons and has 23 points. Most of that time was spent with the Canadiens’ ECHL affiliate, the Cincinnati Cyclones. No longer property of the Canadiens, Aubin signed with the Bakersfield Condors. He was traded back to Cincinnati this season, and had 12 points in 22 postseason games.

Matt D’Agostini, RW,  Guelph Storm (OHL) – 6th round, 190th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 101

The Canadiens liked what they saw in D’Agostini in his rookie OHL season. Signed as a free agent by the Guelph Storm, he contributed spirited play and on the scoresheet as well. A smart player with good speed, D’Agostini was an energetic grinder with upside. He continued to produce after arriving in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, a factor into their 2006-07 Calder Cup Championship.

By the 2008-09 season, D’Agostini appeared to have little left to gain from minor-league play, and was added to the Canadiens roster after tallying 25 points in 20 games with Hamilton. A season later, D’Agostini’s star had faded, and he was traded after scoring only four points in 40 games. D’Agostini is now a member of the St. Louis Blues organization.

The 23-year-old skated in seven games for the Blues in 2009-10, without any points to his credit. He will look to reclaim the measures of success he enjoyed, now, in a different organization.

Sergei Kostitsyn, RW,  Gomel (Belarus) – 7th round, 200th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 155

The younger brother of Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal’s first pick in 2003, Sergei was far from a high-profile prospect as his older sibling was -– as evidenced by his late selection. Though the first round had long come and gone by the time the younger of the two Kostitsyns was claimed by Montreal, it soon became evident he possessed similarly high-end talent. Prompted by growing pains suffered by Andrei before him – transitioning from European hockey to North American with Hamilton – Sergei Kostitsyn left his home country after the draft to join the OHL’s London Knights in 2005-06.

While often an unfairly dubious position, to follow in the footsteps of an older sibling, Sergei’s performance in the early going compared favorably to Andrei. A whopping success by his second season with London, scoring 131 points on a super-line with Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane, Sergei Kostitsyn arrived in Hamilton ready for AHL competition. He virtually matched Andrei’s rookie output in a third of the time (22 points in 22 games). 

Yet it hasn’t all been easy for Kostitsyn. So far, at the NHL level, he has not been able to reach the level of production his older brother has. There have been reports of the younger Kostitsyn having difficulty adjusting the the idea of being in a limited role on the Canadiens. Nevertheless, with a little patience and time to progress, Kostitsyn is a viable NHL’er. Even still, his upside has not yet come to fruition.

Philippe Paquet, D, Salisbury School (H.S.) –  7th round, 229th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

After being selected by Montreal, Paquet joined Clarkson University. The Quebec City native played out the entirety of his collegiate career with the Golden Knights. He was the team’s co-captain. The Canadiens elected not to sign Paquet after he graduated. Through four seasons, 127 games, Paquet posted 30 points and amassed 332 penalty minutes.

Paquet has plenty of heft, standing 6’3 and weighing 215 pounds, and plays a physical game. Beyond his size and toughness, Paquet’s upside is limited. The 23-year-old is still active, recently completing his rookie season in the ECHL as a member of the Florida Everblades. He is not likely, however, to advance beyond the AA level.