The National Hockey League ignored Francis Bouillon as a junior, but he has had more staying power than any of his teammates on the 1996 Granby Prédateurs, who won the Memorial Cup.
Four defenceman from that team were drafted, but none of them came close to having a career that matches Bouillon’s.
Jason Doig, a West Island product who turned down offers to play U.S. college hockey, was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round in 1995. He would play 158 NHL games.
Doig played his last NHL game a decade ago in Washington and retired in 2008 after playing in Russia and Switzerland.
The Canadiens drafted Jimmy Drolet in the fourth round in 1994. He played three seasons with the American Hockey League’s Fredericton Canadiens, but never got close to the NHL.
Jonathan Desroches was the Canadiens’ sixth-round draft pick in 1997. He finished his junior career with the Moncton Wildcats and then played four seasons at the Université de Moncton before hanging up his skates.
Christian Lefebvre was drafted twice. He was Calgary’s fourth-round pick in 1996, but when the Flames failed to sign him the defenceman went back into the draft in 1998 and Edmonton picked him in the eighth round. He never played pro hockey.
Two other members of that Granby team played for the Canadiens. Benoît Gratton, who was drafted in the fourth round by Washington in 1995, played 58 NHL games. He played 12 games in Montreal, where his NHL career ended in 2004. He went to Europe the next year and is still playing with Vienna in the Austrian league.
Finally, there’s Georges Laraque, who had a good career after being drafted 31st overall by Edmonton in 1995. Laraque is best remembered for his fights and his 1,126 penalty minutes, but before his career ended here in 2010 he played 695 NHL games, scoring 53 goals and adding 100 assists.
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