Over the years, there have been 707 players that have played at least one game with the Montreal Canadiens. Of those, there were plenty that I liked that never played up to their full potential in Montreal. Here is the top 10 (keep in mind that I have been a fan since the late 80s, so obviously the players will come from that timeline). I also didn’t want to mention players who are still with the team because they still have a chance to live up to that potential.
10) Marcel Hossa – Marian Hossa’s little brother, drafted 16th overall by the Habs in 2000. I wanted him to be half as good as his brother, someone who could score 20 goals a season. Instead, he was half of that, never scoring more than 10 goals in a season. He’s since been traded to the Rangers and Phoenix.
9) Yannick Perreault – A great faceoff man, arguably the best in the NHL. But he had defensive problems, so bad that the coach wouldn’t put him on the ice for a faceoff in the last minute of a game.
8 ) Brad Brown – A Newfie that was drafted by the Habs, he had no points in 13 games before being traded to Chicago. He ended up playing more than 300 NHL games with teams such as Chicago, Rangers, Wild and Sabres.
7) Terry Ryan – Another Newfie that was drafted by the Habs, he played left wing, and once scored 50 goals and 60 assists in the WHL. Had no points in 8 games for the Habs, and never seemed to play as well in the AHL as he did in the WHL.
6) Gilbert Dionne – The way younger brother of Marcel Dionne, Gilbert managed to win a cup in his first full season (he had played 39 games the year before). Ended up going to Philly as part of the Leclair-Recchi traded, but only played 27 more games after that. He had one breakout year with 21 goals and 34 points in 39 games, and followed it up with two straight seasons of 45-plus points. I was sad when he was traded, because I thought he still had a lot of potential.
5) Sergei Samsonov – I was so excited when Montreal signed him two years ago. Here was a former first round player (taken 8th overall). He had the speed that matched other Montreal players. He had just come off a good playoff run with the Oilers. I kept thinking he would be good for 25-30 goals and 70 points or so. But he was a major bust. He had nine goals in 63 games. He complained when he was demoted to the fourth line, despite not playing well. He requested a trade after only a couple of months. He was finally traded to Chicago, where he was a bust, but has now seemed to redisciver his game in Carolina.
4 and 3) The Lebeau brothers – These guys set records in juniors. Stephan had three straight seasons of more than 145 points, culminating in a 94-goal, 94-assist campaign. Patrick scored more than 60 goals in his last two years of junior. Both were drafted by the Habs. Stephen had a great season the year they won the cup, with 31 goals and 49 assists to lead the team. The next season started off slower, and he was traded to Anaheim. He only played 60 more games before going to the Swiss League. Patrick never made it in the NHL. He played two games for Montreal and 15 NHL games total, but did win a silver medal in the Olympics in 1992. He always played well in the minors, so I’m not sure why he was never called up.
2) Valeri Bure – Lots of brothers on this list. This guy could straight out fly. I kept hoping he could be like his brother, but he couldn’t seem to finish. He only score more than 20 goals for Montreal once before being traded to Calgary. He had some good seasons there. The best thing he ever did while playing for Montreal was marrying Candice Cameron from Full House.
1) Oleg Petrov – This was another player with lots of speed. I liked the fact he always tried hard, skated fast and he had that underdog quality about him. He scored 40-plus points twice, but that was it. He had two stints with Montreal, leaving for the Swiss league in between. He now plays in Russia.
Honorable mentions: Alexander Perezhogin, Jocelyn Thibault, Turner Stevenson, Paul DiPietro, Andrew Cassels, Jyrki Lumme