The Last Time the Montreal Canadiens Drafted 3rd Overall

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The Last Time the Montreal Canadiens Drafted 3rd Overall
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The year was 1968 and the Montreal Canadiens had just swept the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup.

It was the sixth ever NHL Amateur Entry Draft and it was held in Montreal, as it had been the previous five years.

Montreal had acquired the first three selections in the draft and chose goaltender Michel Plasse with their first pick and defenseman Roger Belise with their second pick.

With the third overall selection, the Habs chose Jim Pritchard, a young defenseman from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Pritchard didn't go on to become an NHL star despite being drafted third overall. Now times have changed and the Montreal Canadiens are hoping their fortunes have changed as well.

The Habs have the third overall pick in this year's entry draft and are looking for a player to come in and be a superstar. They want a player that can turn heads and put pucks in the net.

With the third overall selection, this should be possible.

There is plenty of talent available. Nail Yakupov will probably not be available by then, but Alex Galchenyuk and Mikhail Grigorenko will be. Is one of these players the guy that will help the Habs get them back on the right course?

Only time will tell. They just hope whoever is selected is not another Jim Pritchard.

Pritchard, born Feb. 14, 1948, played with the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League (now the Western Hockey League) for the 1967-68 season before being selected by Montreal.

The following year, he played with the Houston Apollos in the Central Hockey League. He had eight points in 46 games, along with 33 penalty minutes.

The next season, Pritchard found himself playing for the Kansas City Blues of the CHL.

He never made it to the NHL.

Pritchard played for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in the Western Hockey League (not the WHL) for two games in 1969-70 and then with Jacksonville-Clinton of the Eastern Hockey League in 1970-71, scoring 16 points in 39 games.

He was traded to the Clinton Comets of the EHL later that season, but played the remainder of the year with the Amarillo Wranglers of the CHL. He suited up for Clinton and scored 28 points in 75 games, but left to play with Clinton-Long Island before jumping back to the EHL with the Long Island Ducks.

Pritchard leaped to the North American Hockey League in 1973 and played that season with the Long Island Cougars. He spent two seasons there before going to Chicago to play with the Chicago Cougars of the Western Hockey Association in 1974-75.

The next season, it was back to the NAHL, where Pritchard found himself playing for the Erie Blades. He went on to have his best career season in hockey, scoring 70 points in 71 games.

The next year, he suited up again for the Blades and then the Johnstown Jets. He didn't get back to the same production, scoring a combined four goals compared to his 16 the previous year.

Pritchard, 29 at the time, didn't play any competitive hockey after that.

Looking back on Pritchard's career, the Montreal Canadiens are hoping this year's third overall selection won't follow the same path.

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