The Montreal Canadiens won the NHL Draft Lottery and earned their first overall pick. We hope this is the first step in rebuilding the proud franchise to the top of the hockey world. It will be the first time in 42 years that Canadians have had their first overall pick. However, when examining a draft history of the Montreal Canadiens project, the first choice in general can produce mixed results.
Montreal Canadiens first drafting overall
The NHL draft is littered with overall first picks that haven’t been fully criticized, for several reasons. However, it is the struggling team’s best chance to give their fans hope for the future. In the right situations, he can completely overturn the team.
In the history of the NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens have held their first all-round pick four times before. With all the excitement now surrounding the housing traits holding the current First Public Choice, let’s take a look at how they handled the other Public First Choices they’ve had in their history.
History of the NHL Draft
The NHL created the first amateur draft in 1963 to designate junior players not affiliated with teams. Prior to the draft, teams will sponsor amateur teams and players who pre-empt other NHL teams from acquiring new young talent. It also limited the amateur player’s odds of playing in the NHL only for the team that sponsored them. The draft was devised as a way to phase out sponsorship practice to help disperse amateur players more evenly across the league. However, players who had already signed a sponsorship agreement with teams were ineligible for the project, so it would take a few years for the draft to become what the league wanted. It also means that a lot of early drafts weren’t full of high-quality prospects.
To determine a draft ranking, NHL President Clarence Campbell said the rankings are from worst to best in the rankings.
Dispel some myths
The Montreal Canadiens had an agreement with the NHL allowing them to select the best unsupported Quebec players. The agreement was called the Territorial Rights Clause. The clause was put into effect in 1936. Many people have pointed to this as the main reason for the early success of the Hab. This is just a myth. The territorial rights clause gave the Habs a choice of two Quebec-born players each year. There was one very important caveat; No player can be selected under the sponsorship of other clubs. So, the Habs could pick players that no other teams had requested.
The territorial rights clause was used from 1936 until 1947. No player selected had ever played in the NHL. It was brought back in 1963 with the creation of the NHL Draft and discontinued in 1969. The same rules would apply as before, no sponsored players could be selected by the Habs even as the league was trying to phase out sponsorship practice.
In all years, the Habs have used these territorial rights, and only three players have played in the NHL. Goalkeeper Michel Blass and the attackers Mark Tardive And Regine Holly. For the sake of this article, players selected by Habs in the draft will be disqualified as part of territorial rights.
1963 NHL Draft
In the first-ever draft, the Montreal Canadiens were the first overall pick. While the league was just beginning to phase out the sponsorship method, the talent pool wasn’t what it could have been in these early drafts. Choosing, choose the center Hab Gary Monahan. Monahan never developed as well as Habs had hoped. Family members were patient, but Monahan traded with the Detroit Red Wings in June 1969. Monahan bounced around the league some with the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks before leaving the NHL in 1979.
Losing a choice is never fun, but when the choice after your choice is good, it’s even more disappointing. The Red Wings has been chosen Mahoflich’s house With a second general check. Although, ironically, the Habs acquired Mahovlich from the Red Wings in a 1969 trade that sent Monahan to Detroit. Mahoflich became a key member of the Canadiens Cup winning teams in 1971, 73, 76 and 77.
1968 NHL Draft
The Hab once again had, for all intents and purposes, the first all-inclusive pick. To be fair, they used the territorial rights clause for the first two choices as well, so they actually made the first three choices. However, if there was no provision on territorial rights, the housing editor’s first public choice would still have been. They used the selection to select defender Jim Pritchard. She was another Miss Hab. Pritchard has never played a game in the NHL. His only move as a professional came in two games with the Chicago Cougars of the WHA in 1975.
1971 NHL Draft
Habs acquired the first all-round pick in a trade with California Golden Seals. Habs General Manager Sam Pollock worked some of the magic of ‘Trader Sam’ to ensure the pick (obtained outside of the previous season) was first overall. It was Bullock’s plan to pick the next great French Canadian superstar for the Canadians. With the first overall selection in the 1971 NHL Draft, Habs . was selected Jay LaFleur.
Lafleur has been announced. While it took a few years to find a foothold, LaFleur developed into the best player in the NHL. In his career, LaFleur has won five Stanley Cups, two Hart Awards, three Art Ross Awards, and three Lester B Awards. He holds Habs records for career points (1,246) and points in a season (136). At the time, he was the fastest player to reach 1000 points in his career (in 720 matches). LaFleur was also the first player to score at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. His number 10 was retired by the Montreal Canadiens and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. Guy Lafleur was the generational talent team he hoped to be selected through the first overall selection.
1980 NHL Draft
The 1980 NHL draft is a point of contention among Montreal Canadiens fans. The Hab held the first choice overall and there was little debate about who they should choose. The discussion was between Doug Wickenheiser And Dennis Savard.
Wickenheiser was the most anticipated pick among the Scouts across the board. He was a major center coming out of a season in which he led the WHL in scoring (170 points), was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and led the Regina Pats to the WHL Championship and Memorial Cup. Savard was a smaller skill center than QMJHL. Savard has been dominant throughout his career with the Montreal Juniors. He scored 115, 158 and 181 points in his three years as a youngster. He was also named League Player of the Year in 1979-80. Savard was also a domestic kid in which fans have invested a lot. The question about Savard was that the QMJHL wasn’t a strong league, so the scout wondered how inflated his score totals would be.
In a decision that angered many fans, Habs went with Doug Weikenheiser as the first choice. It wouldn’t be a contentious moment for fans if all went as planned. Unfortunately for Wickenheiser, he was not able to live up to his status as the first overall pick. When Wickenheiser struggled to adapt to the NHL game, he infuriated fans and the media. The Habs’ patience grew on their part with Wickenheiser and they traded with the St. Louis Blues during the 1983-84 season.
Savard, to his credit, had a illustrious career that ended with him being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000. People in Montreal are still talking about how the Hab was blown up in this draft.
So much at stake
Here you are. The Montreal Canadiens’ four picks are first in the NHL Draft. Three hits and one loss in the Grand Slam. Although to be fair, most of the possibilities in those early drafts were, to put it mildly, not very good. Very few teams had much success with drafting until the 1970s, so it’s easy to understand why these choices didn’t work.
However, looking back, one thing remains for certain about first drafting in general, it’s not an exact science. For now, my top pick is Shane Wright from Kingston Frontenac. He appears to have all the tools to succeed at the NHL level but that is the uncertainty of the NHL Draft. Even the sure thing might not work.
It’s still an exciting time for Habs fans. The future has never looked brighter. While confidence that the player selected first will generally be a needed cornerstone, everyone has that sense of little concern about whether something goes wrong. The Hab has some recent history with the high draft picks not succeeding. In 2012 and 2019 they picked third place overall and none of the players are still with the club. Both struggled to find consistency at the NHL level. We hope the new Habs system is right and gets the team back on the path to glory.
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