Habs Draft Prowess Could Land Them Lecavalier

Much of the talk leading up to the trade deadline has been rumours circulating that Vincent Lecavalier could be headed to the Montreal Canadiens. There are many reasons for this, such as the fact that it’s the 100th season of the team and what better way to celebrate than taking a big run at a cup, led by a French Canadian star.

But the fact of the matter is the Habs are in the running because they’ve succeeded in large fashion building up a deep and talented organization.

When one speaks of building via the draft, the Habs are often mentioned as they have shown great success going this route after some tough times before the turn of the century.

Currently the Habs have 15 of their picks in the lineup:

1989 – Patrice Brisebois
1993 – Saku Koivu
1998 – Andrei Markov
2001 – Mike Komisarek, Tomas Plekanec
2002 – Chris Higgins
2003 – Max Lapierre, Andrei Kostitsyn, Jaroslav Halak
2004 – Kyle Chipchura
2005 – Carey Price, Guillaume Latendresse, Matt D’Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn
2007 – Max Pacioretty

The Habs are without a doubt a top model to follow if teams are looking to find success via the draft. They did it building up draft picks in the lean years and finding gems outside the 1st round.

Having such great success with picks has allowed them to move other picks and prospects for quality veterans.

2008 – Their 1st rounder went in a deal that brought them Alex Tanguay. While he has had some injury trouble. He was arguably their best forward to start the season and a good bet to re-sign and help them for years to come.

2004 – The Habs traded 5th rounder Mikael Grabovski to Toronto for a 2010 2nd rounder. They then moved a 2010 2nd to pick up Robert Lang who has been a major cog to the team’s current top 10 standing. He has probably been their most consistent player this season up front. Its about building assets and these series of moves show what the Habs do best.

2000 – The team used their 3rd round selection Josef Balaj along with a 04 2nd rounder to pick up the All Star Game MVP, Alex Kovalev. While his play has been up and down as a Hab, he is poised to have a big 2nd half this season and will be a huge key in determining how far the Habs can go this season.

1992 – Who knew a pick this far back would be a key to the team’s future and current success. Craig Rivet was moved to the Sharks and the Habs ended up getting the pick they used to select Pacioretty in 07. But they also received a throw in Josh Gorges who has been one of their best defenceman this season.

Other Active Hab draft picks: Chris Chelios (81), Claude Lemieux (83), Mathieu Schneider (87), Craig Conroy (90), Darcy Tucker (93), Jose Theodore (94), Tomas Vokoun (94), Stephane Robidas (95), Brett Clark (96), Mathieu Garon (96), Aaron Asham (96), Jason Ward (97), Ben Guite (97), Mike Ribiero (98), Francois Beauchemin (98), Michael Ryder (98), Ron Hainsey (00), Andre Deveaux (02), Mark Streit (04)

The draft is a huge bloodline for the Habs and they need it to be as they have little to nothing to show for the likes of Streit, Ryder (UFAs), Hainsey, Beauchemin, Robidas (waivers), Ribiero, Tucker, Theodore (trades), Vokoun (expansion).

It is a bit of mismanagement of assets on their part. But this is why the team is not hesistant to move a veteran such as Rivet or Huet (whom they got a 2nd in 09 for) for picks and young players regardless if they are in the hunt for the playoffs or the Stanley Cup. Moves such as these have made up to some extent their asset losses.

Its really how they have to do things as they’ve struggled via free agency. Dandenault, Bouillon, Kostopolous, Laraque, Denis are depth players at best and the only decent name free agent they have is Roman Hamrlik. The team has been unable to lure a big name free agent (Briere is an example, Sundin another) and thus lean heavily on draft picks.

But, the possibility exists for the team to acquire a big name like Lecavalier via trade. Not only is their roster dotted with a ton of drafted players, they still have a good number of solid prospects in the system to use as possible assets for trade.

Top Rookies/Prospects:

Max Pacioretty (07) – Pacman has not disappointed bringing elements like size and grit to the Habs who surely need that presence in their lineup. He had a great camp, was pretty solid on the farm and earned a promotion thanks to some injuries. He will be a tough player to send back once the Habs get healthy.

PK Subban (07) – Subban is a folk hero in Canada due to his infectious enthusiasm helping Canada at the WJC. He is a riverboat gambler with lots of energy and skill and a big part of the Habs future. Potentially as well, he could be a big piece in any Lecavalier trade.

Matt D’Agostini (05) – Another player who has brought elements the team needs: Grit, Size, Willingness to play in traffic. He will likely be the odd man out once the team gets some bodies back, but he has emerged as a solid prospect. With Koivu back, he may get a chance to stay as he was hot on a line with the Habs captain.

Ryan McDonagh (07) – Not only would the Lightning be interested in acquiring the Habs top prospect, but so would 28 other teams. He is the kind of defenceman teams look for nowadays. Swift skating, highly skilled, good size. He is part of a deep U of Wisconsin defence and he is progressing as expected.

Kyle Chipchura (04) – Chipchura has been up and down with the big club the last couple of seasons. He is starting to score down on the farm averaging about a point a game. That and his skating were the big questionmarks surrounding him. But he is a character type forward who may find life as a quality 3rd line checker.

Others: Ben Maxwell (06), Danny Kristo (08), Matt Carle (06), Ryan O’Byrne (03)

The kind of assets are there to put together an offer for Lecavalier. Roster players like Higgins, Plekanec, Gorges, maybe even the Kostitsyn brothers could be offered. Prospects like McDonagh, Subban and/or Chipchura are most certainly going to be part of a package. And no doubt, the Habs will be comfortable moving their 1st rounder, perhaps even 2 to get the deal done.

It does not seem plausible for someone like Markov or Komisarek (as they have been rumoured) to be included in this trade and certainly Price is untouchable. But that does not mean the Habs have nothing to offer.

A deal like Higgins, Plekanec, Chipchura, McDonagh and a 1st for Lecavalier is a major package of assets to part with. But, Lecavalier is arguably among the top 5 players in the world. He is in his prime and has tons of good hockey left in him. The city and the team have been dying for a French Canadian hero to don a Habs jersey once again as they have not seen one since the day Patrick Roy departed. He was the last star to lead them to glory and he was a hero in La Belle Province. If the Habs acquire another Quebec hero in Lecavalier, the team only hopes that Lightning can strike for a 25th time.