Canadiens fans, rejoice: These NHL greats were once fifth overall picks

May 9 2023, 5:57 pm

Many Montreal Canadiens fans were disappointed after Monday night’s NHL draft lottery concluded with them getting the fifth overall pick.

With 68 points and a record of 31-45-6, Montreal finished their season in 28th place in the leagueā€™s standings. They had the fifth-best odds of coming out on top in the lottery but ultimately stayed put.

And while five may not be as high as some would prefer, this year’s draft class is thought to be a very deep one. And history has shown that the pick can still yield incredible talent.

In fact, some of the greatest players in NHL history were No. 5 in their respective draft years. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best fifth-overall picks in NHL history.

Scott Stevens (Washington Capitals, 1982)

scott stevens

Scott Stevens was selected by the Washington Capitals with the fifth overall pick in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. The big, imposing defenceman went on to have a Hall of Fame career, playing 22 seasons in the NHL and winning three Stanley Cup championships with the New Jersey Devils.

Funnily, Stevens ended up playing more NHL games than Gord Kluzak and Gary Nylund combined, that year’s first- and third-overall selections.

Jaromir Jagr (Pittsburgh Penguins, 1990)


Easily one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, Jaromir Jagr was an absolute steal for Pittsburgh when he was selected fifth overall at the 1990 draft.

The Czech winger captained two teams, won two Stanley Cups, an Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, and has the second-most points in NHL history, after Wayne Gretzky. He played his last game in the league at the age of 45, exhibiting ridiculous longevity.

While all four picks ahead of Jagr went on to have successful careers in the NHL, none came close to surpassing his achievements.

Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens, 2005)

carey price

Ā© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Carey Price is one of the few draft picks the Montreal Canadiens got right in the 2000s, and boy did they hit the jackpot.

Selected with the No. 5 pick by the Habs in the 2005 Draft, Price has played all 712 of his career games with Montreal. He became the winningest goaltender in Canadiens history in 2019.

Over the years, the seven-time All Star has accumulated quite the hardware collection with awards like the Vezina Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, and even an Olympic gold medal.

If the Habs can knab another player of Price’s calibre, they’ll be in a good position for years to come.

Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins, 2006)

Pittsburgh Penguins / Twitter

The Boston Bruins selected Phil Kessel with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

“Phil the Thrill” has gone on to have a solid NHL career, scoring 393 goals and 892 points in 1,101 games. He also won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was named to the NHL All-Star Game three times.

Morgan Rielly (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2012)

Toronto Maple Leafs / Facebook

Drafted by the Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Morgan Rielly has gone on to have a lot more success than all four players picked before him.

For the record, those players were Nail Yakoupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, and Griffin Reinhart. To add insult to injury, Rielly was the third defenceman selected that year, meaning drafting for the position was no excuse for letting the solid blueliner fall.

If someone of Rielly’s calibre can drop down to the fifth in what turned out to be one of the weakest draft years in recent memory, there’s no telling just how good of a player Montreal can get with a high pick in a class filled with superstars like Bedard and Fantilli.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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