Price is right for Canadiens

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey took a run at moving up to second spot in yesterday's NHL draft, but the price wasn't right.

The Habs caused the first shock of the draft, using the fifth pick overall -- their highest pick since 1984 -- to take goaltender Carey Price of the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.

They passed on the likes of forward Gilbert Brule, ranked fifth among skaters by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau.

Gainey held talks with Mighty Ducks GM Brian Burke about obtaining the second pick overall, but couldn't do a deal.

"We were looking to move," said Gainey. "It's not often you get in a position to move more than a couple of spots, the opportunity to get in a complete power position where you can control your choices."

THIN BETWEEN PIPES

Gainey said he wasn't interested in parting with some of the Habs' young players.

"You get in the position of giving up a young player you've spent two or three years developing ... to let them go and start again, the reality doesn't match there," he said.

Price, 6-foot-2 and 222 lbs., was the top-rated goaltender in the draft according to the Central Scouting.

The Canadiens have given a qualifying offer to star goaltender Jose Theodore, who is a restricted free agent and could become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The Canadiens traded Mathieu Garon, who had been Theodore's backup, to the Kings as part of the Radek Bonk deal last summer. The Canadiens picked up Cristobal Huet as part of that deal, but he has a bum knee.

That leaves Yann Danis, who is coming off a good season with Hamilton of the AHL, as next man on depth chart right now.

THEODORE NOT ON MOVE

Gainey said the Canadiens selected Price because he was the best player available and not because Theodore could be moving on soon.

"Price was always part of a prioritized group, even before we knew we had that selection," said Gainey.

"I wasn't expecting to go this high, but I'll take it," said Price.

Price said he was a Canadiens fan in elementary school "and I always got booed for that."

Price said he has modelled his style after former Canadiens great Patrick Roy and Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

"I'm a guy who can handle the puck and play both a standup and a butterfly style," he said. "Hopefully, I'll live up to the tradition of goaltenders in Montreal."

The Habs traded two picks to the Rangers for the 45th pick and used it to take power forward Guillaume Latendresse of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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