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The drive for 25

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Any pick at an NHL Entry Draft is only what you make of it. With the Canadiens slated to first walk up to the podium at No. 25, the opening selection announced by GM Bob Gainey will be the result of a little more hard work. But that's fine with him.

The 2008 Draft in Ottawa this coming weekend will see the Canadiens pick 25th for only the third time in club history and the first time since selecting Russian winger Alexander Perezhogin back in 2001.
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Gainey, meanwhile, has not only made several 25th picks in his days as an NHL GM, he's also managed to make them count. While still the mastermind behind the Dallas Stars in the late 1990s, Gainey snagged Brenden Morrow with the 25th overall pick at the 1997 Draft. The young power forward has since emerged as the cornerstone of the Stars' organization, with Morrow earning every inch of his recent captaincy. Gainey also grabbed tough guy Steve Ott with a 25th pick for Dallas at the 2000 Draft.

As far as the greatest 25th selection in league history, that honor so far would go to defenseman Mark Howe, selected by the Bruins in 1974. The son of Mr. Hockey himself, Howe never went on to play a single game with Boston, but still enjoyed a solid 16-year NHL career that saw him amass 472 points in 929 games along the way for the Whalers, Flyers and Red Wings.

The most productive player ever chosen at No. 25 was Mike Murphy, who was scooped up by the Rangers in 1970. Murphy scored a combined total of 238 goals over his 12 years spent with New York, St. Louis and Los Angeles. As for who piled up the most career games after being picked 25th, that honor belongs to longtime defenseman Todd Gill, who reached the 1000-game plateau just prior to hanging them up for good following the 2002-03 season.

On the goalie front, Gilles Gilbert was the first player chosen 25th at the inaugural NHL Draft in 1969. The Quebec-born netminder went on to post a 192-143-60 record after being drafted 25th by the North Stars that year. The one-time NHL All-Star will always be remembered for allowing Jean Beliveau’s 500th goal in 1970-71 while with Minnesota.

Recent draft history suggests that a 25th pick is nothing to sneeze at, with the Hurricanes and Oilers having reaped the benefits of their scouting homework. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford picked would-be Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward at No. 25 in 2002, while three years later Kevin Lowe got his mitts on Andrew Cogliano, who had a solid freshman campaign for the Oilers in 2007-08.

Manny Almela is a writer for
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