Montreal Canadiens Worst 5 Draft Busts During the 2000’s

Montreal Canadiens

Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Mikhail Sergachev poses for a photo after being selected as the number nine overall draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens draft classes between 2000-09 had a couple great selections, but it also had many whiffs in the 1st round. Examining the five worst 1st round picks the Habs made during the decade.

The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful, and storied team in NHL history. The Canadiens have a long legacy of drafting excellent players who’ve gone on to help them win 24 championships. Those 24 Stanley Cup championships are still the most ever in the NHL.

However, it has been more than 23 years since the Canadiens have last won a Stanley Cup. The last time the Habs won it all was in 1993. Star Goaltender Patrick Roy backstopped the Canadiens through unbelievable playoff run in which they upset Wayne Gretzky, and the Los Angeles Kings for the Championship.

Since then, the Canadiens have struggled to have a championship caliber team, and partly due to poor drafting. The Canadiens from that point on always seemed to be on the cusp of rebuilding. The Habs were able to put together a few playoff teams, but usually wound up being bounced early on.

From the start of the 2000’s the Canadiens Management made some very poor choices in the draft that which has hurt the club right up to the present day. They Canadiens could have landed elite shutdown defensemen or top notch scoring on the wing. Also, the Habs could have landed a few elite number one centers, which the Canadiens lacked for years.

What Makes a Draft Bust?

Put simply, the player never produced, or never lived up to the hype of being a first round pick. What also can hurt a player on this list is who else was available for selection, but was passed over by Habs Management. Unfortunately, the Canadiens had far too many first round busts during the decade.

Montreal Canadiens

Nov 1, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Montreal Canadiens forward Louis Leblanc (71) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Canadiens 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Examining why Louis Leblanc is one of the Montreal Canadiens worst draft busts of the 2000’s.

The last NHL Draft of the decade, was held in Montreal to commemorate the Montreal Canadiens 100th year anniversary. The Canadiens held the 18th overall pick, and selected Louis Leblanc from the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League.

Leblanc was projected to be a second line center with some good scoring upside. Leblanc also has a good sized frame at six feet tall, and many felt that he would only be a couple of years away from joining the Habs.

After a year playing for Harvard, Leblanc signed a three year entry level contract with the Canadiens. Leblanc went on to play for the Montreal Juniors in the Quebec Major Junior League and he put up some good numbers for the Juniors. In 51 games during the 2010-11 season Leblanc scored 58 points with the Juniors.

Leblanc was selected to the Canadian National Junior Team that season, to compete at the World Junior Championship. During that tournament Leblanc scored seven points in seven games and played a huge role for the Canadian National team, as they won a silver medal. As a result, it seemed like Leblanc was developing into an elite player, and that he would soon be contributing with the Canadiens.

Leblanc’s Professional Career

However, things didn’t go according to plan for Leblanc, as he joined Montreal’s AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs. Leblanc was bounced between teams during the 2011-12 season.

He spent part of the year with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Habs AHL affiliate, and the Canadiens, but couldn’t establish himself on either squad. It also didn’t help matters that the Habs were having an awful season, and they finished the season near the bottom of the league standings.

The Habs fired their Management group and Coaching Staff after the season. The previous regime was replaced by current General Manager Marc Bergevin, and Head Coach, Michel Therrien. The changes didn’t do much for Leblanc as he spent most of the next two seasons in the AHL.

In the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons Leblanc played 132 games for the Bulldogs, but only scored 46 points. Leblanc would only appear in eight games for the Habs in the 2013-14 season but he failed to find the score sheet. Leblanc was then traded to the Anahiem Ducks after the season, but he would never play another game in the NHL.

All in all, Leblanc only played 50 games for the Habs, and only scored 10 points.

Who Else Was Available?

The 2009 NHL draft class wasn’t one of the deepest talent pools, but it did produce a few elite players. For example, after the Canadiens picked Leblanc, the Colorado Avalanche went on to select Ryan O’Reilly, just 15 picks later. O’Reilly has become a member of the Canadian National Team and has been an NHL All Star.

In O’Reilly’s 521 games played he has scored 118 goals and totaled 323 points. The Habs should have selected O’Reilly, and the Habs could have solved their second line center woes.

Montreal Canadiens

Feb 16, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Slovakia forward Marcel Hossa (88) and Russia defenseman Ilya Nikulin (5) in a men’s preliminary round ice hockey game during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Examining why Marcel Hossa is one of the Montreal Canadiens worst draft busts of the 2000’s.

When the Montreal Canadiens selected Marcel Hossa in the first round of the 2000 NHL Draft, many thought the Habs were going to get a star. Hossa has enormous size at six feet, three inches tall and weighs 220 lbs. Hossa had great offensive talent and was a very smart instinctive player.

Also, Marcel Hossa’s family pedigree couldn’t get much better as his older brother is Marian Hossa. Marian at the time, was lighting it up with the Ottawa Senators. With Marian tearing it up, Habs fans started drooling over the potential of his brother Marcel.

Hossa’s Career with Habs

In Marcel’s career with the Habs, he failed to develop offensive consistency. In total Hossa played 59 games with the Canadiens, spread through three seasons, and Marcel and only scored 10 goals, totaling 19 points. Marcel was eventually traded to the New York rangers in exchange, for tough guy, Forward Garth Murray.

What didn’t help Hossa in the long run, was his brother Marian who developed into a massive NHL star. What’s amazing, is that Marian is still a leader, and is a top producer for the Chicago Blackhawks. Marian’s reputation greatly overshadowed his brother, and it left much to be wanted from Marcel.

Who Else Could the Habs have Drafted

Fortunately for the Canadiens, the 2000 NHL draft class lacked depth, and overall that class didn’t produce many NHL stars. A player that Canadiens could have landed though, was Forward Justin Williams.

Williams developed into a solid player, and he has also won a couple Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings. Justin isn’t what you would call a franchise player, but in his prime he was a very good second line player, with consistent scoring production.

Montreal Canadiens

June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; General view of the stage prior to the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Examining why Alexander Perezhogin is one of the Montreal Canadiens worst draft busts of the 2000’s.

Alexander Perezhogin was selected by the Montreal Canadiens 25th overall in 2001 NHL Draft. Perezhogin is a Russian Forward, who had huge potential as a top six forward. Alexander had awesome speed, and terrific hands, that he used to dangle around anyone.

The Canadiens management staff were really high on Perezhogin as he developed with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens AHL affiliate at the time. In first year with the Bulldogs, Perezhogin scored 23 goals and had 50 points in 77 games.

Perezhogin’s Career with the Habs

Alexander would flash his amazing skill throughout his career with the Canadiens, but much like Marcel Hossa, Perezhogin couldn’t find consistency. Perezhogin played 128 games with the Montreal Canadiens through two seasons. During that time span Alexander only produced 15 goals and 34 points.

Perezhogin will sadly be more remembered for a suspension that he received in the AHL, more than he will be remembered for his NHL career. Perezhogin was suspended for a whole season for a stick swinging incident.

Other than that horrible mistake, Perezhogin’s Pro career was practically unnoticed. After two seasons with the Canadiens, Perezhogin would return to Russia, and never play another game in the NHL.

Who the Habs Could Have Picked

Perezhogin was a late round first round pick, but the Habs still could have selected some top tier scoring talent. In the next two rounds of that draft class, players like Mike Cammalleri, Jason Pominville, and Patrick Sharp were available. No doubt anyone of these three players, would have better shaped the Canadiens franchise.

Montreal Canadiens

Feb 17, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Andrei Kostitsyn (46) during a game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

Examining why Andrei Kostitsyn is one of the Montreal Canadiens worst draft busts of the 2000’s.

The 2003 NHL Draft was one of the deepest draft classes of all time. During that Draft year, NHL teams could almost find franchise players at any position. However, with 10th pick in that draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected Andrei Kostitsyn.

Kostitsyn was blessed with size as he was and speed. Andrei also had an absolute wicked wrist shot and had the potential to be one of the NHL’s best snipers.

Kostitsyn’s Career

Throughout Kostitsyn’s career with the Habs, he had moments that showed what a dominating player he could be. Using his speed, and that wicked wrist shot, Kostitsyn put together a few solid seasons. Kostitsyn developed great chemistry with Forwards Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec.

In fact from the 2007-08 season to the 2010-11 season Kostitsyn had three 20 goal seasons. His career best season came in 2007-08 as he scored 26 goals and had 53 points. So why is Kostitsyn on this list as a draft bust when he was able to have some solid production?

Why Kostitsyn is a Bust

In the following 2011-12 season Kostitsyn’s production dropped off dramatically. In 53 games Andrei only scored 12 goals and had only 24 points. Kostitsyn looked uninterested, and didn’t bring any competitiveness during that season.

As a result, Kostitsyn was traded to the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline that year. Kostitsyn continued his poor effort with Nashville during the playoffs, before the predators were eventually eliminated. After that playoff run, Kostitsyn would never play another game in the NHL.

Also, like previously mentioned 2003 was one of the deepest draft classes ever, and teams could find many future All Star caliber players. Kostitsyn never developed into that type of player, even though he was a top 10 pick.

Who Else Was Available?

Here is a list of some of the players that the Canadiens could have selected instead of Kostitsyn:

Jeff Carter, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, and Shea Weber.

If the Canadiens would have selected any of these players, it would have changed their franchise dramatically. Many of these players have gone on to win Stanley Cups, or are known as top end players at their position.

Montreal Canadiens

Jan 19, 2013; Montreal, QC, CAN; On ice projection of the Canadiens logo during the warmup period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Examining why David Fischer is the Montreal Canadiens worst draft bust of the 2000’s.

David Fischer was selected 20th overall, in the 2006 NHL Draft. Heading into that draft Fischer was considered to be one of the best defensive prospects. He was even given the 2006 Mr. Hockey Award, which goes to the best high school hockey player, in the state of Minnesota.

Fischer was supposed to bring a great deal of dependability and size to the Canadiens blue line. David is six feet, four inches tall, and was supposed to fill out, and be a force. Fischer was also considered to be a very good skater.

Here is a scouting report of Fischer before he was drafted, from Hockey’s Future:

The tall defenseman skates strongly with a wide base. He does not rush the puck up the ice often, but he can hit the breakout pass and rarely makes a mental mistake. Fischer often stepped up to a position on the half-board for power plays and did not seem out of place fore checking and handling the puck as a forward. Fischer’s strength is that he plays a steady game and makes the players around him better.
Fischer’s Career with the Habs

The above scouting report on Fischer never came to be for the Canadiens. Fischer went on to play College Hockey for the University of Minnesota for four years. Than Fischer played in the ECHL for a couple years, before eventually playing in Europe.

Fischer although being considered to be one of the Habs top prospects in 2006, steadily regressed, and would never play a game with the Canadiens. As bad as some of the other players were on this list, at least they were talented enough to play on the Canadiens roster. Fischer may go down as the Habs worst draft selection of all time, but he was definitely the worst during the 2000’s

Who Else was Available?

Fischer went 20th overall, and just two picks later, Center Claude Giroux was selected by the Philidelphia Flyers. The Habs, yet again could have selected an elite number one Center, but whiffed horribly.

Just Imagine

For a moment consider what the Montreal Canadiens could have looked like if they drafted differently. Here are the players they could have had over the years:

2000: Justin Williams

2001: Patrick Sharp

2003: Shea Weber

2006: Claude Giroux

2009: Ryan O’Reilly

If the Habs would have chosen those players, and paired them with their other 2000’s first rounders like Carey Price, Max Pacioretty, and Ryan McDonagh, the Habs would have a dynasty team. However, it’s nearly impossible to know what prospects could be in the future, but it’s still interesting to think of what could have been.

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