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Shea Weber: in 2003, a Habs scout pushed hard to draft him
Credit: Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The draft is not an exact science. Every year, players drafted early fail to live up to expectations (for a multitude of reasons), just as players drafted late surprise everyone.

Every team has its good moves… and its not-so-good ones.

And in 2003, the Habs had one of their bad ones. In addition to Andrei Kostitsyn in the first round, the club set its sights on Cody Urquhart in the second round, while Patrice Bergeron was still available.

But there was another player available at the time: Shea Weber. And according to Éric Hoziel on yesterday’s Process podcast, there was a Habs scout pushing (very) hard for the club to select Weber.

In the end, Gainey selected Urquhart… who has never played in the NHL.

In the end, Gainey apologized to his scout for not listening to him. Imagine how different the Canadiens’ recent history could have been had he listened to his scout.

The scout in question, Elmer Benning, is in fact the father of Jim Benning, who was GM of the Canucks between 2014 and 2021. He knew Weber from his time in Western Canada, and was lucky enough to see Weber play in Kelowna in junior.

The good news is that two years later, the Canadiens had the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft. Once again, Benning had a player in his sights for whom he pushed hard.

The player in question? Carey Price, who wasn’t exactly a bad choice.

In the end, the two guys Benning pushed for ended up playing together in Montreal when Weber was traded for P.K. Subban, although both were nearing the end of their careers at the time. Still, that didn’t stop the two guys from reaching the finals in 2021… where they unfortunately lost.

Obviously, this is a hypothetical scenario… but one almost wonders if Weber and Price wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup together in Montreal if Gainey had listened to his scout’s recommendation in 2003. But then again, the draft isn’t an exact science.

In gusto

– Alain Crête wants nothing to do with Trevor Zegras in Montreal.

– Will the Oilers end the drought?

– I imagine he’ll start hating them again during the finals.

– Big win for the Blue Jays last night.

– It’s understandable.

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