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Canadiens select defenseman Fischer

Saturday, 24.06.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Canadiens select defenseman Fischer


VANCOUVER (CP) - High school defenseman David Fischer knows there are plenty of adjustments ahead if he plays in the NHL and one of them will be his sweater number.

Taken with the 20th selection by the Montreal Canadiens at Saturday's entry draft, he was questioned about wearing No. 9 while patrolling the blue-line for Apple Valley High in a St. Paul, Minn., suburb.

He hesitated momentarily, then smiled when asked if he knew of any Canadiens who wore that now-retired number.

"(Maurice) Richard? You put me on there," Fischer said.

The Canadiens swapped first-round picks with San Jose, giving up their 16th overall to drop to 20th while also gaining the Sharks' 53rd pick.

The Sharks moved up to select six-foot-four, 214-pound defenseman Ty Wishart of Comox, B.C., from the WHL's Prince George Cougars.

The six-foot-three, 185-pound Fischer knows he'll have to add some weight to his lanky frame.

"Hitting the weights, baby," Fischer said as he pulled out the chest of his jersey.

He'll be going to the University of Minnesota in the fall where there will be more practices and more time in the weight room than he would have in junior hockey.

"I only see the next three or four years for me to excel and get better," said Fischer, who had eight goals and 30 assists in 25 high school games last season.

Fischer was ranked 29th by NHL Central Scouting, but said he wasn't surprised to be picked nine slots earlier.

"I had a great meeting with Montreal and their staff at the (scouting) combine," he said. "They're a great group of guys and I'm proud to be chosen to be their best pick."

He began his hockey career as a forward but that soon changed.

"I always knew I was going to be a defenceman," he said. "That's where I was comfortable. That's where I made the biggest impression.

"Growing up in Apple Valley, we always had a shortage of forwards and I always saw the ice well, good stickhandler, good playmaker so I played forward a lot.

"I think it helped me on (defence) as well, understanding what a forward's mentality is and also being involved in the play as well."

Montreal general manager Bob Gainey described Fischer as a player who needs to develop.

"He's leaving high school and going to college," Gainey said. "He's going to have a huge leap to make next year with the University of Minnesota.

"Our scouts are confident he'll be able to jump right in with the Golden Gophers. I think after a year or two there, we'll know if he's showing signs whether he's ready to move to the next stage."

Montreal selected another defenseman, six-foot, 206-pound Mathieu Carle from Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL, with the pick obtained from San Jose.

Gainey said he wanted two defencemen this year after moving up in the second round of the 2005 draft to select right-winger Guillame Latendresse at No. 45.

"Mathieu Carle and David Fischer answer those kind of things," Gainey said. "The scouts pulled them apart and these are guys that they think are, in their peer group are good prospects."

Carle, of Gatineau, Que., had 18 goals and 51 assists last season.

Centre Ben Maxwell of North Vancouver, B.C., was selected ahead of Carle with Montreal's 49th pick overall. He had 28 goals and 32 assists in 69 games for the WHL's Kootenay Ice last season.

Maxwell said he's been a Habs' fan since he was a youngster.

"They're just the winningest organization and I kind of jumped on the bandwagon," he said. "I've always loved the team and how they play."

The Canadiens selected Ryan White, another centre, in the third round with the 66th overall pick.

White had 20 goals and 53 points in 72 games last season with the WHL Calgary Hitmen.