MONTREAL - Cutting and polishing the perfect diamond doesn’t happen overnight. In the case of diamond-in-the-rough center Tomas Plekanec
, this might be the season the jeweler adds the final sparkling touch to his fine cut ice.
Drafted by the Canadiens in the third round, No. 71 overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, the playmaking pivot has since suited up for 311 games for the Habs, good enough for seventh highest among centers – and 20th
overall – in his draft year in games played.
|Czech list |
|Plekanec is among the top scoring Czech forwards in the league over the past two seasons. |
| || ||GP ||G ||A ||PTS |
|Ales Hemsky || ||146 ||43 ||94 ||137 |
|Patrik Elias || ||151 ||51 ||82 ||133 |
|Vaclav Prospal || ||162 ||52 ||64 ||116 |
|Milan Hejduk || ||159 ||56 ||57 ||113 |
|Milan Michalek || ||156 ||47 ||65 ||112 |
|Petr Sykora || ||156 ||53 ||56 ||109 |
|Tomas Plekanec || ||161 ||49 ||59 ||108 |
|Martin Erat || ||147 ||40 ||67 ||107 |
|Martin Havlat || ||116 ||39 ||65 ||107 |
|Jiri Hudler || ||163 ||36 ||63 ||99 |
Over the years, Plekanec has risen as part of the cream of his draft class’ crop. Currently owning the ninth-most goals among his 2001 cohorts, he also ranks ninth overall in points since being picked by the Habs as an 18-year-old that June.
The Kladno, Czech Republic native exploded for the most productive season of his career in 2007-08, notching 69 points while centering the top trio in Montreal. While his numbers may have dipped to 39 points last year, the 5-foot-11 forward wasn’t without his share of offensive opportunities, launching 202 shots on goal in 2008-09. Despite his low-by-his-standards totals, Plekanec still finished his third campaign in the league with an impressive 20 goals – making him the only Canadiens player to hit the 20-goal benchmark in each of the past three seasons. The speedy center also showed off his chops as a penalty killer last year, notching a team-high three shorthanded markers in the Canadiens’ 100th season.
With last year already in the rearview mirror, Plekanec has been looking at the road ahead and making some big plans for the upcoming season. With Vancouver 2010 just around the corner, though, the Czech star would be wise to keep his February schedule a little clearer than usual. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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