By JD Lagrange – Last week, I presented you with the first round picks from 1979 to 2022 from teams in the playoffs, so picks from the 16 playoffs’ teams. I did that to show the value of a mid to late first round pick and it was an eye opener to say the least. This week, I decided to push the envelope by showing the Montreal Canadiens’ first round selections in the same time period. And just as a heads’ up, it’s not a pretty picture.
For this exercise, I have added the team’s General Manager at the time. The reason for doing this is that often times, they are the ones taking the credit or the fall for the first round selections. So you will see the likes of Irvin Grundman all the way to Kent Hughes on that list, and we will break down their work comparatively to their successors or predecessors.
So without further ado, here are all of the first round picks by your beloved Canadiens since 1979.
|GM||# TEAMS||NAME||# OVERALL||GP||G||A||PTS|
|1979||Irving Grundman||21||No 1st rd picks||-||-||-||-||-|
|1983||Serge Savard||Alfie Turcotte||17||112||17||29||46|
|1996||Réjean Houle||Matt Higgins||18||57||1||2||3|
|1999||28||No 1st rd picks||-||-||-||-||-|
|2000||André Savard||30||Ron Hainsey||13||1132||59||252||311|
|2003||Bob Gainey||Andrei Kostitsyn||10||398||103||119||222|
|2005||Carey Price||5||712||2.51 GAA||.917 Sv%||49 SO|
|2008||No 1st rd picks||-||-||-||-||-|
|2010||Pierre Gauthier||Jarred Tinordi||22||130||4||14||18|
|2012||Marc Bergevin||Alex Galchenyuk||3||647||146||208||354|
|2022||Kent Hughes||Juraj Slafkovsky||1||22||4||4||8|
☞ The Canadiens have spoken 47 times in the first round in those 43 years.
☞ It is important to note that during that time span, the Canadiens only won the Stanley Cup twice, in 1986 and 1993.
☞ Three times, in 1979, 1999 and 2008, have they not had a first round pick.
☞ They had three first round picks in 1981.
☞ Six times, they’ve had two first round picks: 1984, 1985, 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2022.
☞ Twice (1980 and 2022) they had the first overall pick and only six times in 43 years have they spoken in the top-5 of any Draft. They are:
- 1st overall: Doug Wickenheiser (1980), Juraj Slafkovsky (2022)
- 2nd overall: None
- 3rd overall: Alex Galchenyuk (2012), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (2018)
- 4th overall: None
- 5th overall: Petr Svoboda (1984), Carey Price (2005)
Compare that to the Buffalo Sabres, who have picked top-5 in 8 occasions in the same time span, including 3 first overall and 2 second overall. Then to the Edmonton Oilers, who picked top-5 in 7 occasions since 1979, 4 times first overall including three years in a row from 2010 to 2012. Or even to the Ottawa Senators whom, since 1992, have had 7 top-5 picks, 3 of which were first overall.
By General Manager
Now, to make things more interesting, let’s break it down by General Managers. The reason why I have included the average number of goals is for continuity from the article from last week, when we specifically targeted the odds of getting a 20-plus goals’ scorer in the bottom-16 picks of the first round. In this case however, it includes all first round picks, not just the bottom-16.
|GM||# of DRAFTS||# 1st Rd PICKS||AVG PICK #||AVG GP||AVG GOALS|
Notice that I’ve placed a partition between Gainey and Gauthier. That’s because from Gauthier onwards, there are active players so those results will change. Although in Gauthier’s case, it won’t change much as his two players are Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.
☞ A couple of notes on Marc Bergevin’s picks:
- Alex Galchenyuk, Michael McCarron (who just entered the NHL and NHLPA assistance program) and Nikita Scherbak are pretty much where they will end up in games played and goals.
- Logan Mailloux is still in the junior ranks but has a very promising future.
☞ Because I know it’s important to some people, know that Trevor Timmins was in charge of Amateur Scouting (in different titles) since the 2003 Draft when he was hired by Bob Gainey. He served until 2021 as he was fired at the same time Bergevin was, last season.
I’ve decided to let you draw your own conclusion, particularly when it comes to the breakdown by GM. What I will tell you, however, is that this picture as an organization is not pretty, particularly that we’re not talking about a team that has had a lot of success in those 43 years. With that being said, if we did the same exercise, I fully suspect that the picture would be similar for just about every other NHL organization. Drafting is not a pure science and trying to determine the future of an 18 year-old teenager is almost impossible.
Fans should be encouraged by the more progressive approach take by the Canadiens since the hiring of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes. Not that they are better at drafting, as that’s an aspect that remains to be seen. But the high level of emphasis put towards player development, both from the prospects’ point of view and the continuation with players who have reached the NHL, is very promising. Time will tell if it pays off in the long run.