Where available, I included the Central Scouting ranks (NA = North American skater, E = European skater rank), the International Scouting Services ranks (S = skater), and the Hockey News draft preview issue ranking. Positive spin: Habs nabbed three players in THN's top 30.
Valentenko was Central Scouting's 138th ranked skater in Europe?? That's not a sleeper. That's Rip Van Frickin' Winkle.
For more detailed info on these players, check out Pat Hickey's two columns, and this excellent recap at HockeysFuture.com.
There are some similarities to last summer's draft with Gainey choosing a consensus lower-rated player with the first round pick, then making a move to grab a higher rated players that slipped to a later round. I liked Gainey's tactical moves. He traded down and still got his man with Fischer in R1, then traded up to get Ryan White who slipped all the way to 66th. I'm not as pleased with Gainey's drafting at a strategic level.
Gainey selected goaltender Carey Price last year with the #5 overall pick. This year, he went with a defenseman. Everyone knows defensemen and goalies take longer to develop. By the time these guys are mature players, the UFA age will be down to 27 or less (assuming the free agency aspect of the current CBA remains in the next one). Why bother going through the growing pains of developing goalies and defensemen just to lose them in their prime? Why not draft reams of forwards who, generally speaking, develop into productive players at a younger age? Pay them as little as possible and let them go when they hit 27. Take the money you save on your forwards and buy older-than-27 defense and goaltending. Let someone else pay to train NHL-calibre defensemen and focus your player development entirely on your forwards. If the New NHL style of officiating is here to stay, forwards have increased value anyway.
It doesn't make sense to blindly draft "the best player available." GMs should be drafting the players who will provide the greatest return to the drafting team. Why bother drafting the Next Chris Pronger when you know he won't peak until he's over 30? Stick to trying to draft the Next Patrice Bergeron. Obviously, it's not wise to put all your eggs in one basket, and this approach doesn't take into account things like loyalty or home-town discounts for FAs. Still, I can't think of an obvious reason not to draft with this tendency at the very least.
A lingering effect of the lockout
More handwringing about the Roster
1) The total salary seems awfully high for this group of players.
2) I don't have a whole lot of optimism for the near future. There are no real stars on the horizon. Price may be, but you (OK, I) just can't tell with goalies, and Montreal doesn't have a history of turning up diamonds in the rough like Svatos or Zetterberg.
If this team is going to contend soon, it will have to be with a committee effort, like the Sabres. The current collection of young forwards is a step in that direction.
As a player, Muller was one of those 'good guys.' You were glad to see him on your team. I recall reading that he was crushed in '95 when he was dealt to Long Island for Turgeon. It's good to see he hasn't carried a grudge.
Nevertheless, hiring Muller makes me nervous. Is he a good coach, or just a crony of Carbo? He was a fine player - a grinder with hands and a renowned leader. But he has never really seemed like the sharpest tack in the drawer. Watching him play, you didn't think "That guy is coaching material." Then again, you could say the same about Gretzky.
This hiring just smacks a bit too much of Mario Tremblay. A former player, not a lot of coaching experience... Then again, maybe it's just my anti-Queens bias, being a Western grad.