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Better late than never

Thursday, 19.06.2008 / 11:59 AM / News
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Better late than never
MONTREAL -- Just because janitors and security guards are the only ones left in the stands when your name is finally called at the NHL Draft, doesn’t necessarily mean your big league dreams are over. The Habs’ current lineup is proof positive of that.    

With six players on their current roster having been selected 200th overall or lower, the Canadiens know full well that there is life after 200. Sergei Kostitsyn (200th, 2005), Mark Streit (262nd, 2004), Michael Ryder (216th, 1998), Tom Kostopoulos (204th, 1999), Jaroslav Halak (271st, 2003) and Gregory Stewart (246th, 2004) were all late draft picks, but still managed to reach the NHL.

Thanks in part to those half dozen hidden draft gems, the Habs are among the all-time league leaders in that department. Since the inaugural NHL Draft in 1969, 16 players drafted 200th or lower by the Canadiens have gone on to play at least one NHL game, ranking only behind the Rangers (23), Sabres (19) and Bruins (18).

When the Habs announce the 206th pick on Saturday afternoon in Ottawa, they will be looking to snap a 25-year skid for players selected in that spot. Not since 1983 has a player chosen 206th gone on to play in the NHL, dating back to Thomas Rundqvist, who actually played his only two NHL games with the Canadiens in 1984-85. The only other player to escape the 206th pick jinx was Glenn Johannesen, who was chosen by the Islanders in 1980 before embarking on his own two-game NHL career with New York in 1985-86.

Despite such odds, Bob Gainey and Trevor Timmins have still managed to make miracles with their picks coming at No. 200 or later at the last four NHL Drafts. With that kind of track record, the Habs may have their upcoming 206th pick knocking at the Bell Centre’s door before they know it.

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com