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Scouting the Draft

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MINNEAPOLIS – It’s not necessarily how many picks you have in the draft that matters; it’s how you use them.

With just six picks pending at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft this weekend, Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier is nevertheless optimistic about mining some gems out of this year’s talent pool.

“We’re looking at the draft this year as a very strong one. Our scouts believe the first round is very deep and by the time we pick at No. 17, we’ll be able to get a player who’s almost of the same caliber as those picked in the Top 10,” confirmed Gauthier. “That’s encouraging for us. We don’t have a second-round pick, but we have picks in all of the other rounds, except for the fourth round where we have Anaheim’s pick. It’s a very exciting time for the organization.”

Pierre Gauthier meets the press before Day 1 of the Draft
Gauthier currently owns the 17th, 78th, 113th, 138th, 168th, and 198th selections in this year’s draft, but with 30 NHL general managers wheeling and dealing on the draft floor during the weekend, that could change in an instant.

“There are things you explore – moving up, moving down, or getting more picks. Those are the sort of things that can happen; you never know,” offered the Habs GM, who traded up at the 2010 Draft to select Jarred Tinordi at No. 22 overall. “We’re very solid on who we might get at pick No. 17. It’s a position we like right now, but we’ll see. The philosophy of every organization unless you’re right, right at the top [of the Draft list] is to pick the best player available, whatever their position.”

One move Gauthier could be looking to make before Rounds 2-7 get underway on Saturday morning is getting the Canadiens on the board in the second round. While first rounders like Carey Price (5th overall in 2005) tend to steal the show on draft day, former second-rounders Michael Cammalleri (49th overall in 2001) and P.K. Subban (43rd overall in 2007) are living proof of the All-Star level talent that can be found lurking in Round 2.

“We don’t have a second round pick, but through all the transactions we’ve made in the last two years, we did acquire a second-round level player in Michael Bournival [in exchange for Ryan O’Byrne last November],” mentioned Gauthier. “We’re happy we acquired Bournival and we feel very good about his progress, but you’re right – sometimes second round picks turn out to be better than first-rounders, not only in our organization, but in many organizations. It’s a very good pick.”

While Gauthier remains open to possibilities, he doesn’t seem to be planning any blockbuster trades or extreme makeovers this summer.

“Between the changes we made with the free agency in signing five players plus the trade for Gomez two years ago and last year with the trade market and the young players we’ve brought up in the past 18 months we’re probably in a situation where the wise thing to do would be to keep building on all the changes we’ve made in the recent past,” he confirmed. “I would note that we were 23rd in the league in terms of experience of players with their existing club last year, which means we’re very much a new club. The picture is already pretty well painted for us in that sense.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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