Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top 10 Worst Montreal Canadiens Players In Recent History

The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley cups, the most in NHL history, but they haven’t won Lord Stanley’s trophy since 1993.

This long successful history has led to a storied list of players to be considered as the greatest Habs of all time. But the current streak of futility—18 years without a Stanley Cup—has also led to some of the worst players to even don the Bleu Blanc Rouge.

The list below is my attempt to rank the top 10 worst players to play a minimum of 25 games for the Habs since their 1993 Stanley Cup.

Please note that the list is in chronological order.

Matt Higgins (1997-2001)

Selected 18th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Canadiens, Higgins turned out to be one of the worst first round selection in franchise history.

In more than 57 games with Montreal, Higgins recorded only one goal and two assists for a mere three points.

Higgins had recorded three 30-goal seasons when he played for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. That is what we call a bust as Higgins is currently playing for a lower-level team in Slovenia!

Christian Laflamme (2000-01)

Traded by the Edmonton Oilers to Montreal along with Matthieu Descoteaux in exchange for Igor Ulanov and Alain Nasreddine, Laflamme had an unremarkable career with the Habs.

In 54 games over two campaigns, Laflamme recorded only five points, all assists, and posted a minus-16 rating. As you can see, the lanky defenseman, who finished his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues, hardly took the league by storm.

He finished his not-so-illustrious career playing for the Pont-Rouge Lois Jeans of the Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey (LNAH).

Juha Lind (2000-01)

Acquired by the Canadiens for Scott Thornton in January 2000, Lind is one of the worst players to ever play with Montreal.

The Finnish winger recorded a paltry four goals and six assists for 10 points in 60 games with the Habs over two seasons. Soft and slow, Lind only played in Montreal because of the lack of better options at the time. If you are looking for his vintage Habs jersey, you could probably find it at the nearest Salvation Army counter.

Patrick Traverse (2001-03)

In more than 109 games with Montreal, the lanky defenseman scored four goals and added 19 assists for 23 points and a mediocre minus-24 rating. The Canadiens acquired Traverse in exchange for Eric Weinrich in February 2001.

According to Traverse himself, he only played in the NHL because there is now 30 teams. Experts around the NHL totally agree with Patrick.

Mariusz Czerkawski (2002-03)

When the Montreal Canadiens acquired him for Arron Asham and a fifth round draft pick in 2002, they were hoping the Polish forward would provide a much-needed offensive boost.

Instead, Czerkawski became a huge disappointment, notching only five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 43 games with Montreal. His contract was later bought out and he signed a one year deal with the Islanders in 2003, netting another 25-goal season (he had five 20-goal seasons prior to his acquisition)!

Czerkawski, whose name amounts to 254 points at Scrabble, still owes a 20-goal season to Habs fans. They are still waiting...

Jason Ward (1999-2004)

Drafted 11th overall in the first round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Ward played 105 games with Montreal, recording only 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points.

Another first rounder that did not pan out in the 1990s, Ward managed to hang around and play more than 366 games in the NHL. A fourth line grinder and defensive specialist, not what the organization was expecting when they drafted him ahead of superstars like Marian Hossa and Brenden Morrow.

Sergei Samsonov (2006-07)

The Canadiens signed the speedy Russian a two-year contract worth $7.05 million in the summer of 2006 in hope of getting consistent offensive threat. Instead, they received a boatload of uselessness and put him on waivers in February 2007.

Samsonov managed to score only nine goals and add 17 helpers for 26 points in 63 games, after recording six seasons of at least 45 points with the Boston Bruins.

The Canadiens ended up trading him to the Chicago Blackhawks for Jassen Cullimore and Tony Salmelainen in June 2007. In La Belle Province, Sergei will be remembered for his play without the puck on NHL 2007.

Janne Niinimaa (2006-07)

The Habs acquired Niinimaa and a fifth round pick from Dallas, in exchange for Mike Ribeiro in 2007 in one of the worst trades in franchise history.

Niinimaa went on to record only three assists in 43 games for the Bleu Blanc Rouge, finishing with a minus-13 rating on the season. Niinimaa also managed to ice the puck 432 times during his tenure with the Habs, a record that will be hard to break.

Since that dismal trade, Ribeiro has recorded 116 goals and 265 assists for 381 points in 453 games with the Dallas Stars.

Kyle Chipchura (2007-09)

Drafted 18th overall in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Chipchura turned out to be a major disappointment for the Habs.

In 68 games with Montreal, the slowest first round pick ever, managed only four goals and 10 assists for 14 points. He also posted a horrible minus-17 differential during his tenure.

The Canadiens finally gave up on him, trading Chipchura to the Anaheim Ducks for a 4th round pick in December 2009. Chip, a natural born leader like Craig Rivet, is currently playing for the Phoenix Coyotes. Marquee names such as Travis Zajac, Andrej Meszaros, Mike Green and Dave Bolland were all drafted after Chipchura.

George Laraque (2008-10)

Signed to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million, Laraque was mainly signed to become the Habs tough guy. However, things didn’t go as planned for the vegan enforcer as he battled back injuries for over two years before the organization decided to buy him out.

In only 51 games, Laraque scored one goal and added four helpers for five points and 87 penalty minutes. He also managed to finish with a minus-12 rating despite limited ice time. At the end, Laraque was not even dropping the gloves any more.

The Green Party politician is now working as a hockey analyst for TVA Sports, often dropping the gloves against ex-Habs enforcer Dave Morissette when reminiscing about their hockey career.

Honorable mentions

David Aebischer, Murray Baron, Andrei Bashkirov, Sergei Berezin, Sebastien Bordeleau, Valeri Bure, Pierre Dagenais, Aaron Downey, Rory Fitzpatrick, Miloslav Guren, Jonas Hoglund, Marcel Hossa, Eric Houde, Pat Jablonski, Darren Langdon, Chris Murray, Garth Murray, Alexander Perezhogin, Peter Popovic, Barry Richter, Pierre Sevigny, Todd Simpson, David Wilkie, Johan Witehall.

Please note that players like Eric Chouinard, David Fischer, Dave Morissette and P.J. Stock did not play enough games with the Canadiens to be included in the above list.

Hat tip to my friend Mike Legault for the research.

Feel free to let me know if I missed anyone.

Follow Fred on Twitter for more updates on the Canadiens and hockey in general.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)


Great list but I don't think I would have included CHipchura. he may have been a disappointment but given his sevre injury it is amazing he ever played in the NHL.

Eric Chouinard was a much bigger bust in my eyes.

Eric Chouinard only played 13 games for the Habs so he didn't qualify!

"Instead, they received a boatload of uselessness and put him on waivers in February 2007."


That is genius my friend! And so is this list. It's funny, because the perception is that the Habs have sucked in the pro scouting department for a long time. I wonder how this list of futility stacks up against other teams in the league?

@Bryan: Ya, Chouinard was a brutal, brutal draft pick. Especially when you consider the Habs couldn't have chosen his linemate, Simon Gagne, instead.

Haha. Patrick Traverse. Remember the outcry when MTL reacquired him (briefly) a couple of seasons ago?

Nice list! Surprising that Red Light Racicot was not on it or seven shot eight goal Sevigny. But cannot go wrong with any of these or you could have honourable mention to Peter Popovic or Vladimir Malakov.

@Laura: Red Light Racicot! Oh man, that's a good one! Forgot about that...the scars run too deep ;-)

In the bust category but not qualifying due to the number of games played - Terry Ryan.

Jim Campbell, Jason Dawe(Hell, almost all the 2000 Mtl Canadiens)Jimmy"WinWell Helmet" Cummins, Terry Ryan, Terry Ryan, Terry Ryan,

@Ryan a bunch of prolific hockey players haha

What about the one currently in the line up now? Gomez might be a nice guy and all ... but come on people. He average 16.5 goals a season for the nine years prior to coming to Montreal. He's had 20 in three seasons ! Averaged 47 assists a season and now over three years in Montreal has averaged 31.6 per season. take out the first season in Montreal and that plummets average only 19 per season over the past two seasons. ANYONE REMEMBER THAT HE MAKES $7.5MILLION A YEAR ?!?!?!? Contract for contract, Gomez for Nash is reasonable ... performance for performance ... hopefully 3rd, 4th, 5th round picks and just start over ???

Way off on the Higgins pick.........first couple of years he was a 20 goal scorer.....then something went wrong.

@Anon in this list it's MATT Higgins, not CHRIS Higgins! Big difference.

I don't agree with the mention of Popovic. He disappeared from the league pretty quickly but he was a very good defensive defenseman for at least one season. We're not gonna retire his jersey anytime soon but one good season is a lot more than every other player on this list.


@Anon: Turner Stevenson? You're kidding, right? He was a very good bottom-six player. He played six full seasons in Montreal and tended to put up 20-plus points per season.

I think he was a pretty useful player...

I'll assume the Turner Stevenson mention was only due to his draft position (1990,1st RD 12th overall) while the likes of Keith Tkachuk(19th), Geoff Sanderson(36th) and Dougie Weight(34th) were all chosen afterwards. I neglected to mention Marty Brodeur because at the time we had a goalie by the name of Patrick Roy stealing the show. But all in all Turner "Hands of Stone" Stevenson was a very useful player for us- One we could most definitely use today against a team like Boston.... Just sayin'

I think this list goes to show that the scouting department in the 1990s was absolutely terrible. The Habs drafted some great players in the last decade and the jury is still out on the last 3 drafts, but they are starting to make names for themselves.

But while Jason Ward, Eric Chouinard, Matt Higgins, Terry Ryan, Brad Brown represent the worst of the worst first round picks ever, the scouting department has had some great find in the later rounds, oddly enough.

Darcy Tucker, Round 6- 1993
Tomas Vokoun, Round 9- 1994
Stephane Robidas, Round 7- 1995
Brett Clark, Round 6- 1996
Andrei Markov, Round 6- 1998
Michael Ryder, Round 8- 1998

All these players have played pivotal roles for NHL clubs, some all-star appearances, too. And all have played AT LEAST 600 NHL games.

In hindsight, its clear the Habs should have traded away their first round picks for proven players and late rounders in the 1990s. Aside from Koivu, they were terrible! Their late round picks clearly seemed to pan out much better that decade.

Looks the Habs couldn't draft properly in the most important rounds!

How about ranking the worst GMs in Habs' history?

After tonight's 1st game against Sens, let's include the Diaz-Gorges pairing.

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