The month of January brought about some success for the Hamilton Bulldogs as
they went on a run late in the month to get right back into the thick of the
playoff race. Meanwhile, some of the lesser discussed junior and
collegiate prospects had some strong efforts, giving a bit of a different look
to our January 3 Stars compared to those of recent months.
1st Star: Mike Condon – While I think many would suggest that
Charles Hudon has been Hamilton’s MVP this year, I’m quickly moving towards
giving Condon that nod. With a lot of the team scuffling offensively, the
netminder has been called on to steal games and lately, he has done exactly
that. His two year extension is very much deserved and it appears to be
shaping up to be a matter of when, not if, Condon replaces Dustin Tokarski as
the backup to Carey Price at some point down the road.
Stats: 9 GP, 6-2-1 record, 1.66 GAA, .941 SV%, 2 SO
2nd Star: Gabriel Dumont – While there are a variety of reasons
to speculate why he was recently recalled to Montreal (one of which being that
he quietly has a $50,000 guarantee in his deal like Drayson Bowman does), Dumont
had a very good month offensively which is something we haven’t seen much of
over the years. With Hudon going into an expected slump, it was Dumont who
picked up the scoring slack at the most opportune of times. That’s what
you like to see out of a captain, stepping up when it’s needed.
Stats: 8 GP, 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points, +3 rating, 22 shots, 2 PIMS
3rd Star: T.J. Hensick – Hensick was brought in to be a top
centre and in January, he played like one (even though he spent a good chunk of
time on the second line). He’s not going to bring anything else to the
table but there are enough other players with the ‘intangibles’ that they can
afford to use the uni-dimensional Hensick in key situations. Having that
offensive stability at the top of the lineup is something I’m sure Sylvain
Lefebvre is quite thankful for.
Stats: 12 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, -4 rating, 39 shots, 2
Honourable Mention: Morgan Ellis (Wheeling) – After a pair of
uneventful years, Ellis was finally sent to the Nailers to get some real playing
time. It took a bit of time for him to adapt but he really came on strong
in January. It’s going to take more than one good month to get back to
relevancy as a prospect but it nonetheless is a nice step in the right
direction. Who knows, if he keeps this up, he could perhaps have a role
with Hamilton before the end of the season.
Stats: 14 GP, 9 goals, 4 assists, 13 points, -8 rating, 40 shots, 6
1st Star: Jeremy Gregoire (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL) – Gregoire’s
injury in training camp cost him a shot at cracking Canada’s World Junior team
not to mention more than half the season. The sixth rounder has more than
made up for lost time, however, as he has been the Drakkar’s top player by a
considerable margin since returning to the lineup. The hope was that
despite coming back from a long-term injury he’d produce close to last year’s
level. Not only has he done that, he has found another level.
Stats: 13 GP, 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points, +10 rating, 67 shots,
2nd Star: Martin Reway (Sparta Praha, Extraliga) – He may not
be the biggest player out there and he may not be a willing back checker on a
regular basis but there’s little doubt that Reway is a very gifted offensive
player, much more than the typical small mid-round draft selection over the
years. Will those skills be enough to make him a successful NHL’er?
That’s still a big question but I suspect there are quite a few other NHL teams
who might be willing to see for themselves if he can make it on his offence
Stats: WJC – 3 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, even rating, 10 shots,
Extraliga – 7 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, even rating, 6 PIMS
3rd Star: Nikita Scherbak (Everett, WHL) – His streak of
scoring a point in every game but one in a month came to an end but he is still
leading the Silvertips’ offence on a nightly basis. He’s still a dynamic
player with the puck although I’d like to see a few more goals from as those
have dried up as of late; the majority of his production has been via assists.
That’s not a huge problem at this stage but goal scoring isn’t an area he has
made many strides in so far this season. All in all though, he’s still
having a strong campaign.
Stats: 14 GP, 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points, +5 rating, 18 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Mark MacMillan (North Dakota, NCHC) –
MacMillan’s senior season has been a roller coaster. When he’s on, he’s
really on and when he’s not, he struggles badly. January was an ‘on’ month
for the 23-year-old as he lit the lamp early and often. I keep
flip-flopping on whether or not I think the Habs sign him after the season.
His numbers are a bit better this year but he isn’t a big standout like you’d
expect from a fourth year player. Another month or two like this one was
would really help his cause.
Stats: 8 GP, 7 goals, 1 assist, 8 points, +6 rating, 4 PIMS