In three short days Montreal will finally reveal who they will choose with the third overall pick in this year’s draft in Pittsburgh. To find out what can be expected of someone selected so high I took a look back and ranked the last 20 players to be picked at number three. (Technically the last 22 players but I didn’t include the 2 most recent, Jonathon Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson since neither has played much in the NHL yet.)
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#20 Alexandr Svitov – 2001
Svitov only played 179 career NHL games, scoring a total of 37 points before heading back to the KHL.
#19 Aki Berg – 1995
Berg suited up for over 600 NHL games and put up 85 career points. Pegged as a huge shutdown type when selected he was never better than a sixth defenceman in the NHL.
#18 Cam Barker – 2004
Barker’s career started very promising and he had a 40 point season in 2009 with the Blackhawks. Everything has come crashing down however. Barker has played on three teams in the past three years and may be hard pressed to find NHL employment next year.
#17 Zach Bogosian – 2008
Bogosian stepped into the NHL lineup immediately after being drafted and has played 264 games already. With his big frame, Zach has left people wanting more from him defensively, but at 22 years old he has time to round out his game.
#16 Kyle Turris – 2007
Turris finally showed off some of his offensive potential after being acquired by the Ottawa Senators early this past season. However his career high for points stands at 29, not a lot for an offensive center. He is still young and should fit in nicely on the Sens second line in the future.
#15 Mike Rathje – 1992
Rathje was a punishing shutdown D man who played 768 career games before injuries finally put an end to his career shortly after the lockout. Never much of a scorer but Mike made life miserable for anyone he played against.
#14 Jack Johnson – 2005
Jack is known for his offense from the blueline, averaging 39 points per year over the last three seasons but his defensive game leaves a lot to be desired. His career plus minus stands at minus 85.
#13 Radek Bonk – 1994
Bonk had a four year stretch where he scored over 20 goals each season and averaged 60 points. After the lockout he settled in as a third line center for a couple of seasons in Montreal and Nashville. Bonk played 969 games and had a total of 497 points. If not for the lockout Bonk would have passed 1000 games and 500 career points.
#12 Matt Duchene – 2009
Matt stepped in to the NHL as an 18 year old and had 55 points as a rookie. He avoided the sophomore slump altogether by putting up 67 points the following season. This past season however, Duchene was injured and ended the year with 28 points. Next season should see him much closer to his career high rather than his career low.
#11 Nathan Horton – 2003
The last player to score against the Habs in the playoffs, Horton began his career with six straight 20 goal seasons before injuries held him back from reaching a seventh last season. A huge forward that can score goals is a coveted commodity and Horton certainly fits that description. His name was engraved on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Bruins last Spring.
#10 Chris Gratton – 1993
Maxing out at 30 goals and 62 points, Gratton had a lengthy career, though not as a top scorer. Playing in over 1000 games is a major accomplishment in the NHL and he finished with 568 points.
#9 Brad Stuart – 1998
Stuart just signed a three year deal that will see him return to his first NHL team in San Jose. Stuart is a great two way defenceman that would fit in on any top four in the league. Closing in on 900 games, Stuart should surpass 1000 games during his new contract.
#8 J.P. Dumont - 1996
Dumont topped the 20 goal plateau six times in his career, maxing out in 2008 with Nashville scoring 29 goals and 72 points. J.P. played in 822 career games and scored 523 points.
#7 Jay Bouwmeester – 2002
Jay Bo hasn’t missed a game since the lockout and plays as many minutes as any defenceman every year. One of the best skaters in the game today he plays great at both ends of the ice, although his offensive game hasn’t been quite the same since his trade from Florida to Calgary. Jay had back to back 15 goal seasons and has scored over 40 points on three different occasions. Bouwmeester is yet to play in an NHL playoff game.
#6 Keith Primeau - 1990
Keith’s best year came in 2001 when he scored 73 points in just 71 games. Primeau was a massive center who could play both ends of the rink very well and was a great leader. Injuries, especially concussions ended his career early but he still managed to play 909 career games and add 619 points.
#5 Olli Jokinen - 1997
Olli scored 30 goals in 4 different seasons and had his best offensive season in 2007 with 91 points. Olli has played over 1000 games and has scored 683 points in his career.
#4 Jonathon Toews - 2006
Toews has only played 361 games but has 324 points in that short time. He has also captained the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process.
#3 Marian Gaborik – 2000
With seven 30 goal seasons and three 40 goal seasons already under his belt Gaborik has racked up 324 career goals and 647 points in 722 games.
#2 Henrik Sedin – 1999
With six straight seasons of 60 or more assists, Henrik is one the best playmakers in the league today. He hasn’t missed a game since the lockout, scoring 75 points each season. His best year came in 2010 when Sedin had 83 assists and 112 points. Henrik won the Art Ross and hart Trophies that season.
#1 Scott Niedermayer – 1991
Niedermayer was one of the best defencemen of his era and certainly the smoothest skater. He played over 1200 games in his career and scored 740 points. Niedermayer won championships everywhere he went, 4 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, World Championship Gold Medal, World Cup Gold Medal, World Junior Gold Medal and a Memorial Cup. Niedermayer took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2007 and also won a Norris Trophy as the League’s best defenceman in 2004.
Will the Habs be able to find someone as good as Niedermayer with the third pick this year? If they take a center could he turn out to be a playmaker along the lines of Sedin? Or perhaps a great two way guy like Toews. If they decide on a winger he would have to score many goals to be considered the next Marian Gaborik, or a power forward the likes of Nathan Horton.
Whoever Montreal decide to take third overall, that player will be among good company with the past 3rd overall picks and has a solid chance of becoming a great player wearing a Canadiens sweater.
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