COLUMBUS - After managing to snag a pair of players who were way up on the Canadiens' wish list, Trevor Timmins couldn't help but smile after his hard day's work.
"Ryan McDonagh was the player that Bob talked about this week," explained Timmins. "We were surprised to see him still sitting there at the No. 12 spot. We did all we could to move up in the draft order, but we couldn't find the right fit. We were extremely relieved once it was our turn, knowing that we were going to select Ryan after all."
Timmins wasn't short on praise for the big defenseman from Minnesota.
"We considered him among the best who tested at the recent combines in Toronto," added Timmins. "He's already quite far along physically. I mean, this kid is a horse. We've been eyeing him for two years now. He performed very well at the Under-18 World Championships this year. We were nervous about another team being interested in him, given the way his name had been circulating of late."
The Canadiens' Director of Player Recruitment and Development was just as giddy about his second first-round pick on Day 1 of the 2007 draft, Max Pacioretty.
"This is a player with all kinds of power and strength," said Timmins of the 6-foot-2, 203-pound winger. "He's also got all kinds of intangibles going for him. And he's not only got the size, he also got excellent ability."
When the dust settled after the opening round Friday night, the Canadiens had stuck to their pre-draft game plan.
"We made it clear that we were looking for players who had size, were powerful, talent and had character," reaffirmed Timmins. "And that's exactly what we've done by drafting McDonagh and Pacioretty.
"We're also pleased to see that they've enrolled at excellent schools for next year," added Timmins. "Both Wisconsin and Michigan produce very good hockey players. We also know that both of these players will benefit from great physical conditioning coordinators who will ensure their proper development."
The Canadiens weren't the only team to have looked south of the border so far at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Ten Americans were picked in opening round, the same number as a year ago in Vancouver.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com