Like every NHL Draft position, 16th overall has a dotted history, ranging from Hall of Fame stars to players who never even stepped on the ice. It also features a handful of appearances by the Montreal Canadiens, both as the drafting team and as a future landing spot. Before diving into the NHL as a whole, let’s take a look at some of the selections the Canadiens made on their own at the position.
1985: Montreal selects Tom Chorske
GP: 596 (115 G, 122 A)
After being picked, Chorske spent three seasons at the University of Minnesota before joining the professional ranks. He split his rookie year between Montreal and their farm club in Sherbrooke, with an impressive showing at the AHL level with 46 points in 59 games. In 14 NHL games he managed just four points, followed by 20 in 57 the next year, and then he was gone to the New Jersey Devils the following year.
Drafting in the 80s was always a crapshoot, but I’m also here to mention that 11 picks later, the Calgary Flames drafted future three-time Stanley Cup Champion, Olympic dold medalist and Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk.
1998: Montreal selects Eric Chouinard
GP: 90 (11 G, 11 A)
It’s not hard to see why the Canadiens went after Chouinard in the 1998 Draft. He had just put together an 89-point season for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. Then he followed that up with 109 and 104-point seasons before joining the professional ranks in 2000. After two middling AHL seasons with the Quebec Citadelles, Chouinard was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2003 second-round pick, which became pest extraordinaire Maxim Lapierre.
2000: Montreal selects Marcel Hossa
GP: 237 GP (31 G, 30 A)
Oh, Marcel Hossa, forever cursed to live in the shadow of his far superior brother Marian. It was always going to be tough to match the expectations that the family name carried. In 2000, Montreal had a pair of first-round picks, using their first to draft Ron Hainsey, a player who still plays regularly in the NHL but didn’t truly grow into a pro until leaving the Canadiens organization. It’s not that big a deal; it’s not like Montreal needed a steady everyday defender in the 2000s or anything, right?
Hossa scored in his first career NHL game, setting fans’ expectations even higher, and far above what he could actually hope to achieve. He split time in the AHL and with the Habs, actually performing quite well for the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2003-04, a team led by upcoming Czech centre Tomas Plekanec. However the 2004 lockout happened, and in September of 2005 with the new season looming, Hossa was shipped off to New York for Garth Murray. Hossa played regularly for the Rangers, was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes later on, and then spent the rest of his career bouncing around the KHL, Slovak league, and Czech Extraliga before retiring in 2018.
Notables from around the NHL
2015: New York Islanders select Matthew Barzal
GP: 234 (59 G, 148 A)
Normally this kind of pick would slide by and be written off as a good choice by the Islanders, and it truly is. What makes it so notable is the utter incompetence that preceded it, as the Boston Bruins appeared to fumble three straight picks in a row, leading to this legendary tweet:
Oh shit, Boston could get Barzal, Connor, and Kylington here— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) June 27, 2015
Boston did not get any of those three, opting for Jakub Zboril (two NHL games), Zach Senyshyn (six NHL games), and Jake DeBrusk, who is the only one of the three to turn into a bona fide NHL player. The three following picks were Barzal, who has become a budding superstar for the Islanders, Kyle Connor, a trusted sniper for the Winnipeg Jets, and Thomas Chabot, a franchise defender for the Ottawa Senators. Truly, a fumble that rivals Mark Sanchez’s greatest works.
2011: Buffalo Sabres select Joel Armia
GP: 295 (55 G, 56 A)
In 2011, with the Sabres not yet into a doom spiral of ineptitude and sadness, they selected big Finnish winger Joel Armia from Porin Ässät in the Finnish Liiga. That same team would later produce Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but before then it was Armia lighting up the scoresheet for his hometown club.
He eventually made his way to North America in 2013, spending two years with the Rochester Americans in the AHL before being shipped to Winnipeg in a deal for Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane in 2015. With the Jets, Armia slowly gained more and more confidence in his NHL game, becoming a solid middle-six piece for the Jets.
He, along with Steve Mason, was traded to Montreal in 2018. Upon joining the Habs, Armia began to thrive as a two-way power-forward, enjoying a career year in 2019-20, and a strong playoff showing as well.
Montreal picked right after Buffalo that year, selecting Nathan Beaulieu, who was eventually traded to the Sabres, who then traded him two years later to the Jets, thus completing a weird cycle of sorts between the two players.
2010: St. Louis selects Vladimir Tarasenko
GP: 507 (214 G, 214 A)
Sometimes players end up right where they’re supposed to be, and in the case of the St. Louis Blues, it meant they ended up with one of the 2010 Draft’s premier scoring forwards. Originally part of the Novosibirsk Sibir club in the KHL, Tarasenko showed some promise as a budding sniper in his teenage years, but he didn’t truly begin to show his potential until joing SKA Saint Petersburg in 2011. He played at over a point-per-game pace in the 2012-13 season that saw an influx of NHL stars due to the lockout, but once the stoppage ended he also left SKA to head to the NHL and greener pastures. All he did after that was put together five straight 30-goal seasons, and eventually helped lead the Blues to their first ever Stanley Cup in 2019.
As it stands right now, Tarasenko is fifth in that draft class in total scoring behind Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner, and Ryan Johansen, all of whom were picked ahead of him. However, to get that level of performance every single year from a mid-first-round pick is something truly special, and one of the better picks at 16th overall in recent memory.
1982: Buffalo selects Dave Andreychuk
GP: 1639 (640 G, 698 A)
One last stop down memory lane, and it ends on the undisputed best player ever taken at 16th overall, Dave Andreychuk. Out of a draft class stacked to the brim with future Hall of Fame players, Andreychuk still stands near the summit in terms of his career and acheivements. He was only outscored by one man in his draft year, Doug Gilmour, who somehow slipped into the seventh round. At the same time, Andreychuk outproduced players like Phil Housely, Pat Verbeek, Brian Bellows, and Ray Ferraro in a truly talented group of players.
He almost went his career without his name on a Stanley Cup, but in 2004 he was playing the role of grizzled old vet on a team of up-and-coming stars in Tampa Bay, and finally climbed that mountain. His 1338 career points saw him inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 2017, easily cementing his status as one of the best to ever lace up a pair of skates.
Overall, the 16th pick has yieled plenty of solid, everyday NHL players, with a few that are standing head and shoulders above their fellow draft mates. The Canadiens have plenty of options this year at 16th overall. Will they find their own Barzal, Tarasenko, or Andreychuk this year?