Price is Right for Canadiens
OTTAWA - Goaltending wins championships. Based on that premise, the Canadiens looked to bolster their depth between the pipes by grabbing top rated goalie Carey Price with the fifth overall pick at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
The 18-year-old native of Williams, B.C. is a product of the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, where he had a 24-31-8 regular season record with a 2.34 goals-against average and a sparkling .920 save percentage. The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder also backstopped Team Canada in the Under-18 World Hockey Championships in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
Armed with a strong glovehand, Price is a great skater known for his quick lateral movement. The consensus top goalie in this year's draft, Price was the top-ranked netminder by NHL Central Scouting all season long. His concentration, focus and great work ethic should make Price the perfect future pupil for Canadiens goaltending guru and assistant coach Roland Melanson, who is credited with the grooming of both All-Star Jose Theodore and his former backup, Mathieu Garon.
With the trade of Garon in the summer of 2004 and the recent injury sustained by Cristobal Huet, the role of Theodore's understudy could be awaiting Price a few years down the road. Price will form a strong trifecta of goaltending prospects in the Montreal organization alongside Yann Danis, in Hamilton, and Jaroslav Halak with the QMJHL's Lewiston MAINEiacs.
Price becomes the first goalie to be chosen in the opening round by the Canadiens since Michel "Bunny" Larocque was selected sixth overall at the 1972 draft. The last time the team looked to the crease with its first pick was back in 1970, when it chose Ray Martyniuk fifth overall. The highest-drafted goalie in team history was Michel Plasse, who was taken first overall by the Canadiens in 1968. Price also becomes the highest-drafted netminder chosen by Montreal since Garon and Theodore were each selected 44th in 1996 and 1994, respectively. (courtesy canadiens.com)
Canadiens Welcome the Class of 2005
Goalie, a blueliner and five forwards make up this year's Habs'crop
OTTAWA - After nabbing the draft's top rated goalie in Carey Price with the fifth overall pick, the Canadiens did some wheeling and dealing before making their next selection. Bob Gainey and Co. moved up in order to grab winger Guillaume Latendresse of the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
The Canadiens were so anxious to get their hands on Latendresse that they swapped their second round (56th overall) and third round picks (66th overall) for the N.Y. Rangers' second round pick (45th). The 6-foot-1, 216-pounder put up 78 points in 65 games, including 29 goals for the Voltigeurs in 2004-05 and was the QMJHL's second overall pick in the 2003-04 draft.
Latendresse was a teammate of Canadiens top pick Carey Price with Team Canada at the 2005 World Under 18 Championships where Lantendresse chipped in with five points and two goals including a game-winner.
The Ste-Catherine Que., native is a talented player with a heavy shot and a nose for the net to go with a definite edge to his game. He also plays the body well and isn't afraid to throw the big hit. Rated 52nd overall by NHL Central Scouting, Latendresse was rated as high as 14th overall by The Hockey News just prior to the draft.
With their fourth round pick and third selection of the day, the Canadiens looked all the way to Slovakia in grabbing Juraj Mikus of Skalica at 121st overall. A smooth skating right winger with a good accurate shot, Mikus led all scorers on Team Slovakia at the World Under-18 Championships with seven assists in six games. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder picked up 12 points in 46 games with Skalica's senior squad in Slovakia. Mikus was ranked 24th among European skaters and 65th overall by The Hockey News.
In the fifth round, the Canadiens made their way back to North America and selected Mathieu Aubin of the QMJHL's Lewiston MAINEiacs at No. 130. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound centerman amassed 45 points in 49 games with 19 goals. The native of Sorel, Que., is a versatile player who saw power-play time as well as killed penalties for the MAINEiacs. His stock among North American skaters with the NHL Scouting Bureau rose from a 62nd midterm ranking to 54th in their final assessment.
The sixth round saw the Canadiens select right winger Matt D'Agostini of the Guelph Storm at 190th overall. The 5-foot-11 native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., had 46 points in 59 games along with 24 goals for the Storm. A solid two-way player, he excelled on the power-play and also saw some penalty killing duty. Just leading up to draft, D'Agostini was ranked 64th by NHL Central Scouting among North-American skaters.
The Habs then kept it in the family with their final selection of the afternoon by reuniting the Kostitsyn brothers in nabbing Sergei Kostitsyn at 200th overall. The younger brother of Canadiens' prospect Andrei, Sergei turned a number of heads with Team Belarus at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships in North Dakota. The shifty 5-foot-11, 180-pound winger has been compared to his big brother who was drafted 10th overall by Montreal in 2003.
The Canadiens rounded out their 2005 picks by selecting the second to last player of the day in Philippe Paquet at No. 229. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound blueliner had five points for Salisbury High School in Connecticut in 2004-05. The Quebec City native boasts a booming shot from the point and is also known for his passing ability. Paquet has committed to attending Clarkson University in the fall and was ranked as high as 65th earlier this year among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting.
The Canadiens' Class of 2005 features four Canadian Hockey League products including goalie Carey Price (5th), Guillaume Latendresse (45th), Mathieu Aubin (130th) and Matt D'Agostini (190th) as well as Quebec-born, U.S. high school product Philippe Paquet. Overseas pickups consisted of Slovak Juraj Mikus (121st) and Sergei Kostitsyn of Belarus (200th) (courtesy canadiens.com).
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