7 NHL stars the Canadiens could've and should've drafted in the last 20 years

May 17 2023, 4:19 pm

The Montreal Canadiens have had their fair share of missed opportunities in the NHL Entry Draft over the past two decades. From underwhelming prospects to complete busts, management has fumbled more than a few superstars.

In this article, we will focus on eight star players who were selected just one to 10 picks after Montreal’s selections.

These players could have made a significant impact on the Habs’ roster, leaving fans wondering what could have been.

Claude Giroux (2006 Draft)

claude giroux

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2006 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected defenceman David Fischer with the 20th overall pick. Meanwhile, Claude Giroux, an incredibly talented forward, was still on the board. Giroux, who was selected two picks later by the Philadelphia Flyers, possesses exceptional playmaking abilities and a lethal scoring touch.

His leadership and offensive skills would have provided a significant boost to the Canadiens’ roster for years to come. Instead, they ended up with a prospect who would never play a single game in the NHL.

In this case, drafting the francophone player would have benefited the club, both on and off the ice.

Ryan Getzlaf (2003 Draft)

Anaheim Ducks/Twitter

In the 2003 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens had the 10th overall pick and selected winger Andrei Kostitsyn. However, just nine picks later, the Anaheim Ducks chose Ryan Getzlaf, who went on to become one of the most dominant centers in the league.

Getzlaf’s combination of size, skill, and leadership has propelled him to multiple All-Star appearances, a Stanley Cup championship, and numerous successful seasons.

Meanwhile, Kostitsyn found some success with Montreal before leaving the team in 2011 and the league altogether in 2012.

Zach Parise (2003 Draft)

zach parise

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

That same year they also passed up on Zach Parise, who went 17th overall to the New Jersey Devils.

Parise’s tenacity, goal-scoring ability, and strong two-way game have made him a reliable presence in the league for years. The former Devils captain’s offensive productivity earned him a spot among the top 20 American point leaders in NHL history, ahead of players like Bill Guerin and John Leclair.

Chris Kreider (2009 Draft)

chris kreider

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2009 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens had the 18th overall pick and selected Louis Leblanc. However, just one pick later, the New York Rangers chose Chris Kreider.

Kreider’s combination of size, speed, and scoring ability has made him a consistent threat on the ice. He has become a key player for the Rangers, showcasing his offensive prowess and ability to make an impact in crucial moments.

Kreider’s also the one who injured Carey Price’s knee during the 2014 Conference Finals. In a universe where he’s a Hab, Montreal’s star goalie remains healthy and maybe wins a cup or two.

Oh, what could have been…

Filip Forsberg (2012 Draft)

filip forsberg

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 NHL Draft was another missed opportunity for the Canadiens. With the third overall pick, they selected forward Alex Galchenyuk, who, despite getting off to a hot start failed to reach his full potential in Montreal.

Meanwhile, Filip Forsberg, a skilled and versatile winger, was chosen 11th overall by the Washington Capitals and later traded to the Nashville Predators. Forsberg has become a consistent offensive threat, known for his scoring touch and ability to make game-changing plays. His presence would have bolstered the Canadiens’ forward group significantly.

Sebastian Aho (2015 Draft)

Aho Carolina

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

With the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Canadiens selected forward Noah Juulsen. However, just 10 picks later, the Carolina Hurricanes chose none other than Sebastian Aho.

Aho quickly established himself as an electrifying playmaker and one of the league’s most dynamic young talents. His incredible speed, creativity, and vision have made him a nightmare for opposing blueliners. To add insult to injury, the Canadiens tried offer sheeting the player in 2019.

With that said, Juulsen showed great potential as an up-and-coming NHL d-man before being set back by injuries. He is currently playing for the Abbotsford Canucks in the American Hockey League.

Jake Oettinger (2017 Draft)

Jake Oettinger Dallas Stars 2022

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2017 NHL Draft, the Canadiens had the 25th overall pick and selected American forward Ryan Poehling. Yet, right after their selection, the Dallas Star picked their future starting goalie Jake Oettinger.

With that said, Poehling, who famously scored three goals in his debut with the Habs, is by no means a bad hockey player. After struggling to find consistency for a few seasons in Montreal, he and Jeff Petry were dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Mike Matheson.

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