The Canadiens' precipitous drop in the standings has shone a harsh glare on the shortcomings of the roster. As always, it highlights the lack of a #1 centre, preferably of a large-ish size. To the point that some fans are beating the drum for le bleu-blanc-rouge to draft centres, almost exclusively, in the next draft. Which leads me to ask, do you remember the 1998 draft?
Apparently when our turn came up in the first round of that auction, the choice came down to Simon Gagné or Éric Chouinard, teammates on les Remparts. The deciding factor caused us to go for Mr. Chouinard over the smaller winger, to the fill the need for “un gros joueur de centre”, that elusive beast we’ve been tracking since we traded away Peter Mahovlich. Ever since then, we’ve never not tried to obtain him, despite Doug Wickenheiser and Bobby Smith.
We then compounded our mistake by taking Mike Ribeiro (gag!) in the second round, when Brad Richards was still on the board, if we wanted a local boy centre. The latter was apparently undervalued, everyone thought he was riding the coattails of Vincent Lecavalier, getting easy assignments while other teams keyed on the eventual first overall pick. Apparently, the Tampa scouts who spent a lot of time on Rimouski that year were asking each other “Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Is that Richards kid really that good?”
So anyway, forget about drafting centres, just grab the best player available.
But of course, in 2003, the Canadiens grabbed the best pure talent still available, Andrei Kostitsyn, who we were tickled was still available at #10. And we overlooked centres Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Bryan Boyle, and Patrice Bergeron. So forget what I just said…