Every draft features overlooked players who go on to exceed all expectations. In the Montreal Canadiens’ case, they’ve been blessed with their share of prospect steals.
And while it’s easy to focus on the many players that Montreal missed out on selecting over the years, a glass-half-full perspective can do Habs fans some good, especially on the tail end of what’s been a difficult rebuild for the team.
With that said, here are five diamonds in the rough that fell into the Canadiens’ lap through the NHL Entry Draft over the past few decades.
Guy Carbonneau (1979)
Drafted: 44th overall
Selected by the Canadiens in the third round of the 1979 Draft, Guy Carbonneau would go on to establish himself as one of the best two-way forwards in NHL history.
Known for his exceptional defensive skills, faceoff prowess, and leadership abilities, Carbonneau played a vital role in the Canadiens’ success throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, captaining an underdog team all the way to the Cup in 1993.
With 17 NHL seasons under his belt (11 with Montreal) and 663 points, the Sept-Iles native was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.
Patrick Roy (1984)
Drafted: 51st overall
It’s hard to believe it, but as a young prospect, Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Roy could’ve easily been selected by any other NHL team.
The two-time Conn Smythe-winning goalie was taken in the third round of the 1984 Draft by Montreal. To be fair, Montreal also picked the likes of Petr Svoboda, Shayne Corson, and Stephane Richer before Roy the year he was taken, making it a good draft for them overall.
Less than two years later he would (almost singlehandedly) lead them to their 23rd Stanley Cup as a rookie, likely frustrating all the teams that passed on him.
Roy’s stellar play carried Montreal to yet another championship in 1993 before he was later dealt to the Colorado Avalanche, where he would win two more.
Without St. Patrick, who knows if the Habs’ last two championships would’ve come to fruition.
Andrei Markov (1998)
Drafted: 162nd overall
Every team in the NHL passed up on Andrei Markov in the 1998 Entry Draft. And they did it multiple times.
Drafted in the sixth round by the Habs, Markov emerged as a very reliable defenceman and a cornerstone of the Canadiens’ blue line for the better part of two decades. With his exceptional hockey sense and offensive contributions, the player known as “the General” retired with 990 games under his belt, the sixth-most out of any Canadiens player.
Not bad for a sixth-round pick.
Tomas Plekanec (2001)
Drafted: 71st overall
To put it simply, Tomas Plekanec was one of the most important Canadiens players of the 2000s and 2010s.
Taken in the third round of the 2001 draft, the Czech centre would go on to score over 600 points with Montreal, putting him ahead of the likes of Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, and Dickie Moore on the team’s all-time leaderboard.
As one of Montreal’s most consistent and reliable two-way forwards, Plekanec’s poise on the ice and loyalty to the franchise are two things he’s most remembered for.
Brendan Gallagher (2010)
Drafted: 147th overall
To say that Brendan Gallagher was overlooked as a prospect is a massive understatement.
Taken in the fifth round of the 2010 Entry Draft, Gallagher has come a long way, becoming a heart-and-soul player for the Canadiens and endearing himself to fans with his passionate style of play.
Since making his Habs debut in 2012, the Edmonton native has put up nearly 400 points with Montreal. Numbers aside, fans, teammates, and opponents would all agree that what the small forward lacks in size, he makes up for in tenacity and grit.
After Carey Price, he is the longest-serving member on the current roster by a wide margin.