The month of October wasn’t just a good one for the Habs. Their AHL affiliate in St. John’s also had a strong start to their season while several of Montreal’s junior/international prospects had strong efforts as well. Here are our 3 Stars.
St. John’s IceCaps
1st Star: Bud Holloway – Granted, at 27 years old, he’s not really a prospect. However, he is off to a very good start with the IceCaps as their leading scorer. Holloway started the season on the second line but it wasn’t long before he was moved up to the top trio. He didn’t get any real look at Montreal’s training camp (one game on the fourth line with AHL’ers doesn’t count as a real chance) but one would think he’d garner consideration if/when the big club needs help up front.
Stats: 11 GP, 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, +5 rating, 4 PIMS, 25 shots
2nd Star: Charles Hudon – Last year’s top rookie scorer picked up right where he left off, both in terms of his production and his feistiness. That’s a big first hurdle that he has cleared, demonstrating that 2014-15 wasn’t just a fluke. Unless the first call-up warrants a fourth line addition, Hudon would likely be at the front of the line for a look from the Canadiens.
Stats: 11 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +7 rating, 18 PIMS, 32 shots
3rd Star: Mark Barberio – Last year, the Bulldogs had blueliners deployed as #1 defencemen but none of them were really up to the task. Barberio is that legitimate #1 for the IceCaps this season. Not only is he the top scoring defender for St. John’s but he is also the top scoring blueliner in the AHL while logging heavy minutes in the early going. Montreal is paying him a lot to play in the minors but they’re getting their money’s worth thus far.
Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 8 assists, 9 points, +5 rating, 11 PIMS, 18 shots
Honourable Mention: Christian Thomas – Clearing waivers just might have been the wakeup call Thomas needed as he has been a different player than the one from Hamilton last season. He’s more aggressive with his shot and is producing from the second line which is something that rarely happened in two years with the Bulldogs. The key now for him is to maintain this level of play as doing that will get him back on the NHL radar.
Stats: 11 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +4 rating, 0 PIMS, 30 shots
1st Star: Artturi Lehkonen (Frolunda, SHL) – I was really intrigued with how Lehkonen would start his season. Not only was he going to get more playing time, he was going to do so while changing to a new position, centre. The early results are certainly promising as he produced at nearly a point per game clip from the third line while playing at least 13 minutes in each game.
Stats: (SHL) 12 GP, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 24 shots
Champions League: 1 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +2 rating, 0 PIMS
2nd Star: Daniel Audette (Sherbrooke, QMJHL) – His early signing with Montreal was curious but Audette rewarded their faith in him by getting off to a fast start in what will be his final junior year. Unfortunately, he won’t be back on this for a while as he’ll miss the next 4-8 weeks with a shoulder injury. He likely didn’t have much of a chance of making Canada’s World Junior team but this injury all but guarantees he won’t.
Stats: 11 GP, 5 goals, 11 assists, 16 points, +1 rating, 4 PIMS, 48 shots, 39.8 faceoff win percentage
3rd Star: Michael McNiven (Owen Sound, OHL) – He has been the busiest goalie in the OHL so far this season as the only one to appear in every game. That’s a sharp increase in his workload considering he played in just 24 games the year before. His heavy usage hasn’t slowed him down as he has been among the OHL’s leaders in GAA and SV% for much of the season. His stock is quickly rising.
Stats: 13 GP, 5-5-1 record, 2.67 GAA, .916 SV%
Honourable Mention: Martin Reway (Sparta Praha, Czech Extraliga) – Before this latest fiasco, Reway was not only leading his team in scoring but the league as well. Unfortunately, yet another questionable decision (going from talking extension to demanding a trade/release in days) has his immediate future in doubt. It’ll be interesting to see how long this takes to get resolved.
Stats: (Extraliga) 7 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +4 rating, 4 PIMS
Champions League: 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, – points, even rating, 0 PIMS