Habs history: Every player drafted 1st overall by the Montreal Canadiens

May 11 2022, 2:36 pm

On Tuesday night, the Montreal Canadiens, who finished dead last in the league, won the 2022 NHL draft lottery. The Habs now possess the first pick for the upcoming draft, which will be held in Montreal this July.

It’s been 42 years since the Canadiens had that highly coveted first pick. In fact, the club has only selected first-pick five times in their history — each time they have, the draft has been held in Montreal.

Talk about destiny.

Let’s take a look back at those top picks over the years.

1980 – Doug Wickenheiser


The last time the Canadiens drafted first, they selected centreman Doug Wickenheiser. Montreal fans and media were unhappy with the pick, arguing that the team should have taken Denis Savard instead. They turned out to be right, as Wickenheiser was traded after less than four unproductive seasons with the Habs.

While he went on to have a decent NHL career, Wickenheiser never lived up to his hype or potential.

1971 – Guy Lafleur

Montreal Canadiens

There are once-in-a-generation players that don’t come around often. Back in 1971, two were available at the top of the first round: Marcel Dionne and Guy Lafleur.

Canadiens general manager Sam Pollock was set on knabbing a French Canadian superstar, obtaining the first overall pick through a trade with the California Golden Seals. Les Glorieux ultimately settled on Lafleur.

While the young “Flower” had a slower NHL start than expected, Dionne got off to a dynamite debut campaign in Detroit. Lafleur quickly silenced critics in the following years, becoming the most prolific goal-scorer of his era.

The rest is history.

1969 – Rejean Houle


Before their dynasty of the 1970s got underway, the Canadiens had the first and second overall pick in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft. The honour of being selected first went to right wing Rejean Houle that year.

Houle, whose name is very recognizable in Quebec today, ended up playing the majority of his career with the Canadiens, winning five Stanley Cups in the process. His stats were respectable but never extraordinary, netting over 400 points throughout his career.

Houle also acted as the Canadiens’ general manager between 1995 and 2000. He famously initiated the trade that sent Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche.

1968 – Michel Plasse


In 1968 the Canadiens had possession of the first, second, and third overall pick. The Habs at the time was in need of a goalie and decided to select Michel Plasse first overall.

Despite his reputation as a top prospect, Plasse’s time in Montreal was short-lived, as he played just 32 games for the club over two seasons before being dealt by the Kansas City Scouts.

After playing in 299 games and winning only 92 of them, Plasse’s career concluded in 1982.

1963 – Garry Monahan


There’s the first overall pick, and then there’s the first-ever overall pick. That’s what the Habs had in the inaugural NHL Amateur Draft in 1963. Their selection: Garry Monahan.

Monahan was only 16 when the Habs took a chance on him. Unfortunately, he only suited up for 11 games with the club before he was sent packing in a trade. Monahan jumped around the NHL and AHL in the years that followed, ultimately hanging up the skates for good in 1982.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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