Montreal Canadiens Draft For The Future

Kevin van SteendelaarAnalyst IJune 28, 2009

The Montreal Canadiens wrapped up this year's Entry Draft and seem to be happy with what they managed to pick up.

Although a "big splash" blockbuster deal for Vincent Lecavalier never arose, GM Bob Gainey got the man he wanted in the draft.

With the 18th selection overall on Friday, Montreal took Quebec native Louis Leblanc to a tremendous ovation at the Bell Centre.

"Louis fit perfectly into our wheelhouse," Gainey said.

"We got a good, competitive player."

Gainey added that they would have traded up to get him.

LeBlanc played in Omaha of the USHL--59 points in 60 games--after finishing his midget hockey in Quebec.

"I was hoping that it was the Canadiens," LeBlanc said after being selected.

LeBlanc will play for Harvard this fall and said he will wait one of two years to decide on when he would be ready to join the Canadiens.

Gainey verified those comments by giving him time to develop at the college level.

Montreal had no picks in the second round, but took Joonas Nattinen and defenceman Mac Bennett in the third round.

Nattinen is a good size kid already at 6-foot-2, 183 lbs and is a player not afraid to go to the net in heavy traffic.

Bennett is classed as a puck moving defenseman whose father, uncle and grandfather have all played professional hockey.

He will play with the University of Michigan after a year in the USHL.

In the fourth round, the Canadiens took Russian forward Alexander Avstin.

Avstin was the leading scorer in the KHL's second division last season and may have been missed on the radar by other teams.

"He wants to play here," said the Canadiens' director of player development Trevor Timmins.

Avstin was in Montreal for the draft and at the NHL Combine in Toronto earlier in the month.

Timmins added that he feels Avstin could play in the AHL immediately if he wanted to.

It should be noted that only seven Russians were selected this year, indicating some tentative choices by team GMs now that the KHL is drawing attention.

Fowards Gabriel DuMont, Dustin Walsh and Michael Cichy were then picked up in slots 139, 169 and 199 respectively.

Montreal's lone trade throught the draft was giving up their 2010 sixth round pick to Pittsburgh for their seventh round pick this year.

The Canadiens used that to take 6'6" Finnish goalie Petteri Simila 211th overall. Simila played on the same team and has the same coach of the Predators' Pekka Rinne.

What's with Montreal and tall goalies?

Carey Price is 6-foot-3, while last years pick Jason Missiiaen is 6-foot-8.

Perhaps Bob Gainey, part of the NHL rules committee, knows something about future net size regulations down the road.

Montreal clearly began building their future in the forward position in this years draft.

Five of the junior level picks are centres (three rh and two lh shooters).

Having drafted several defenceman in the past few drafts and foreseeing Carey Price as the franchise goalie, Bob Gainey now has a good mix in development at several levels.

It will be five years until we see the true effect of these eight player, if any, in the NHL.

Bob Gainey just finished year five of his "five-year plan;" maybe the plan works in five-year installments.

Time will tell.