As March 5th, the NHL Trade Deadline, approaches speculation will run rampant regarding what moves General Manager Marc Bergevin should make in order to turn the 2013-2014 Montreal Canadiens roster into a winner, one that surpasses last season’s devastating first round playoff exit.
The current Canadiens roster is, for the most part, the culmination of years of solid drafting; a strong indication that the Habs brass has successfully built a team from within. After a second place finish in the Eastern Conference last season the Habs are currently 3rd in the Atlantic Division and 4th in the Eastern Conference as game 50 approaches.
Here’s a look at how the current team was put together in the hopes of finally bringing the Cup home:
Canadiens Draft Picks
Andrei Markov: The two-time All Star defenseman was the Canadiens’ 6th round draft pick (162nd overall) in the 1998 draft. Markov has been a fixture on the team for more than a decade and is currently looking to re-sign with the Canadiens for the remainder of his career.
Tomas Plekanec: The would-be Selke Trophy candidate was selected by newly appointed Director of Hockey Personnel, André Savard, in the third round (71st overall) of the 2001 Entry Draft. Plekanec is the only Hab still wearing the CH from his draft year, which included defenseman Mike Komisarek and forward Alexander Perezhogin who were both first round selections.
Carey Price: The 2005 Entry Draft was the most anticipated in recent memory. After the lockout cancelled the 2004 season, the NHL decided to allot draft picks by lottery. It was also Sidney Crosby’s draft year making the first overall pick as good as gold. The Habs benefitted from the 5th overall pick and went off the grid when GM Bob Gainey and co. selected goaltender Carey Price who was ranked 7th by some and lower by others.
[su_quote]We think he has the potential to be a power forward at this level. He’s got the size, he’s a physical presence, and he has good balance and speed. We think he’s going to be a player not unlike Eric Cole.[/su_quote]
Max Pacioretty: Two of the Canadiens’ most import players came out of the 2007 draft. Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens’ Director of Amateur Scouting since 2002-2003, scouted and selected Pacioretty 22nd overall. The power forward was the second of two first round draft picks (the first was Ryan McDonogh who was selected 12th overall) that came thanks to a deadline deal that sent defenseman Craig Rivet to the San Jose Sharks. Said Timmins at the time: “We think he has the potential to be a power forward at this level. He’s got the size, he’s a physical presence, and he has good balance and speed. We think he’s going to be a player not unlike Eric Cole.” Incidentally, with Cole on his line Pacioretty had his first 30+ goal season in 2011-2012.
P.K. Subban: The second player to come out of the 2007 draft was Subban, the Habs’ 2nd round draft pick (43rd overall). In hindsight, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner might look like a steal as a second round selection but based on scouting reports it had more to do with Timmins, who said at the time: “We like him a lot. He’s a guy that if you would have only seen him in the first half of the season and didn’t do any follow-up in the second half, you’d wonder what we were thinking,” Timmins said. “He really stepped up his game in the second half and he played at an elite level in the playoffs.”
Alexei Emelin: Emelin was drafted in the 3rd round (84th overall) in 2004. In a year that included Kyle Chipchura and Mikhail Grabovsky, Emelin is the only
member of his draft class to be on the Habs’ roster today.
Ryan White: White was drafted by the Canadiens in the 3rd round (66th overall) in the 2006 draft. In White’s case, the Habs were excited about him and were surprised to find he was still available in the third round. In order to ensure they had a chance at the gritty forward, they traded their third and fourth round selections to the Philadelphia Flyers to move up from the 79th position to 66th. “We’re going to see big things from him this season,” Timmins explained. “He’s disappointed that he went in the third round and he’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove some people wrong.”
Brendan Gallagher: The diminutive winger was selected in the 5th round (147th overall) at the 2010 entry draft, the first for General Manager Pierre Gauthier. Despite Gallagher’s size, he is the only player from his draft year to be a regular in the Habs’ lineup, and one of their most tenacious.
[su_quote]You don’t build solid teams without good centres. For us, it was the logical choice. He is a big, talented center with vision and character. That type of player almost impossible to get.[/su_quote]
Alex Galchenyuk: Galchenyuk is the Hab’s highest draft pick on the roster, selected 3rd overall at the 2012 draft, the first draft under newly named General Manager Marc Bergevin. Knee surgery prevented the center from playing a full 2011-2012 season in the OHL but, despite the risk, Timmins and Bergevin were gunning for the talented centre: “On ne bâtit pas d’équipe solide sans de bons joueurs de centre. Pour nous, c’était le choix logique. C’est un gros centre avec du talent, une vision du jeu et du caractère. Ce genre de joueur est quasiment impossible à aller chercher. ” (You don’t build solid teams without good centres. For us, it was the logical choice. He is a big, talented center with vision and character. That type of player almost impossible to get).
Free Agent Signings
David Desharnais: Desharnais is one of a handful of prominent NHL players never drafted by an NHL team. Despite a successful junior career, Desharnais was finally signed by the Canadiens in 2008 at the age of 22 and spent three seasons playing for the team’s AHL affliliate before being called up by the big club for good in 2011. Desharnais is in the first year of a four year $14million contract extension signed in March 2013 thanks, in large part, to the success he has with linemate Max Pacioretty, dating back to their AHL days together.
Brian Gionta: Gionta is in the final year of a 5 year, $5million contract signed with General Manager Bob Gainey and the Canadiens as a free agent back in 2009. Gainey said at the time: “He’s a top player in his position and depending on who he plays with, good things can happen. We hope that he can get back to 75-to-80 point seasons.”
In 2009, the Canadiens overhauled the team by letting long-time captain Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguy sign elsewhere and brought in Gionta to complement Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri who were signed earlier. Gionta was drafted in the 3rd round (82nd overall) by the New Jersey Devils, where he spent 7 seasons before signing with the Habs. He was named captain in September 2010.
Travis Moen: In 2009, GM Bob Gainey signed the rugged forward to a 3 year, $4.5million contract. The Habs are Moen’s fourth club since he was drafted by the Flames in 2000, including a Cup win with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. At the time Gainey stated: “Travis Moen is a character player. He is versatile, and he plays hard. His size and style will contribute to adding physicality to our team.” Bergevin extended Moen’s contract another four years in 2012 making him a Hab through 2015-2016.
Raphael Diaz: The defenseman was signed by Pierre Gauthier in 2011 out of EV Zug in Switzerland. Said Gauthier: “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Raphael Diaz, who we strongly believe has all the attributes to play in the NHL. Raphael is a defenseman with excellent offensive and defensive skills, who constantly improved his play over the years. We look forward to seeing him at training camp.” Bergevin agreed and extended his contract two years in 2012.
Francis Bouillon: This is technically Bouillon’s third stint with the Canadiens. Though never drafted, Bouillon got his first NHL job when the Canadiens signed him back in 1998. After three seasons with the Canadiens, the Nashville Predators claimed him off waivers but after only four games Bouillon went back on waivers and was reclaimed by the Canadiens. He played another six seasons with the CH before earning a contract with the Predators as a free agent. He played three seasons in Nashville before returning to the Canadiens on a yearly contract basis.
Brandon Prust: Prust was signed by the Canadiens in July of 2012 when he became a free agent after a stint with the New York Rangers. Drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 3rd round (70th overall) in 2004, the Habs are Prust’s fourth NHL club, after time with the Flames, Phoenix Coyotes and Rangers.
Daniel Brière: Brière was drafted by the Coyotes in the 1st round (24th overall) back in 1996 and went on to an illustrious career. Bob Gainey and the Canadiens tried to sign Brière six years ago when the Buffalo Sabres’ captain became a free agent but the notorious playoff performer opted to sign with the Flyers instead. The Habs finally got their man in 2013, when Bergevin signed the centre to a 2 year, $8million contract, after the Flyers bought out the remaining two years on his 8 year contract.
Douglas Murray: Bergevin signed the towering defenseman to a one year $1.5million contract as a free agent in August of 2013 in order to bring size and toughness to the lineup. Murray was drafted in the 8th round (241st overall) by the San Jose Sharks in 1999 and spent the majority of his career in San Jose until he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline in 2013.
Josh Gorges: Gorges was acquired from the San Jose Sharks, along with their first round pick, that eventually became Max Pacioretty, for Craig Rivet and a fifth round pick in 2007. The Habs showed confidence in Gorges by re-upping the Alternate Captain three times in 2008, 2011 and 2012 when Bergevin signed him to a six year
Lars Eller: Who can forget June 17th, 2010 when the Canadiens chose Carey Price as their future goaltender after Jaroslav Halak brought the team to the Conference
Finals for the first time since the 1993 Stanley Cup? Halak was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Eller, the team’s first round, 13th overall pick in 2007 and winger Ian Schultz. At the time, the move was largely rejected by Habs fans who recognized Halak as a star goaltender worth keeping when he and Price became restricted free agents simultaneously.
Michael Bournival: Also in 2010, GM Pierre Gauthier traded defenseman Ryan O’Byrne to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the rights to Bournival. Bournival was drafted in the third round (71st overall) by the Colorado Avalanche.
René Bourque: The Canadiens are known for making knee-jerk trades based on player “misbehaviour” and that’s what brought Bourque to Montreal. One day after star forward Mike Cammalleri made “disparaging” remarks about the club, Cammalleri was traded, along with goaltender Karri Ramo and a fifth round draft pick, MID-GAME to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Bourque and Patrick Holland. Bourque is in the middle of a six year deal signed by the Flames in 2010.