|Mike Komisarek is one of five of the Canadiens' first round picks since 2000 on this year's roster.
MONTREAL – When the Canadiens raised the curtain on the 2007-08 season on Wednesday, five of the team’s first-round picks since 2001 were on the 23-man roster. Mike Komisarek, Christopher Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn, Kyle Chipchura and Carey Price
are proof of the success of the Canadiens’ scouts since the start of the 21st century.
Over the next few years, the scouting staff – led by director of player recruitment and development Trevor Timmins – will likely add names to that list, with defensemen David Fischer and Ryan McDonagh, products of the 2006 and 2007 drafts respectively, working their ways to the NHL.
Four other teams can boast success similar to Montreal, as the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, and Ottawa Senators all opened the season with five of their first-round picks in the lineup.
While the success of those teams at the draft table is obvious, it’s safe to say that the Pittsburgh Penguins are in a class of their own. No less than seven of their first-round selections from 2000 and beyond were on the club’s opening day roster. Brooks Orpik, Colby Armstrong, Ryan Whitney, Marc-André Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal are proof of the handiwork of the Penguins’ scouting staff.
Of course, Mario Lemieux’s group didn’t have to wait too long to make their choices, having held the first overall picks in 2003 and 2005 and second overall in 2004 and 2006.
Each of the four other teams have also held one of the first two selections at least once the since 2000. The Canadiens are the only club to have five of their own first-rounders currently in the lineup without ever having a top-two pick over the last few years.
The opening round of the draft hasn’t been as kind to a number of other teams, something Lightning fans can attest to. No first rounder from 2000 or later has cracked John Tortorella’s 23-man roster. The last player to do so was Vincent Lecavalier, selected first overall in 1998.
While not all teams will hit the jackpot with their first-round choices on opening night, they know they’ve got six other rounds to make up for it. Every year, teams around the NHL can count on late-round sleeper picks that make the scouting staff look even better.
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.Félix-Antoine Viens is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Heather Engel.