November was an up-and-down month for the Habs and the same could be said for their farm team and other prospects. Some players still stood out amongst the rest; here are our 3 Stars for the month.
1st Star: Peter Holland – It’s pretty safe to say that his trade wasn’t related to performance as he was on a nice roll with the Rocket before the deal was made. He had slid in nicely onto the top line (which, at times, was the only unit with any sort of offensive potential) and had been pretty consistent overall. Adam Cracknell may be a better fit for a fourth line spot with the Habs but they’re going to miss Holland’s offensive abilities in Laval.
Stats: 12 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, +1 rating, 30 shots, 9 PIMS
2nd Star: Chris Terry – He missed some time early in the month but still wound up tying for the team lead in goals. While his production continues to be there, I’m a little surprised that his defensive performance has been sporadic and inconsistent. For a player who made it as a bottom-six forward in Carolina for a bit, his play in his own end should be better. He’s doing well offensively – no doubt – but I think he could be more of an overall contributor still.
Stats: 9 GP, 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points, -5 rating, 24 shots, 9 PIMS
3rd Star: Matt Taormina – Similar to Terry, there’s no denying his offensive skills; they’re well above average in the AHL. His play defensively is a whole different story. He has made several big plays that have led to goals…for both sides. That makes him a risky proposition to get a look with the Habs but he remains a crucial piece to the puzzle for Laval.
Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 8 assists, 9 points, +3 rating, 29 shots, 2 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Jeremy Gregoire – I could have gone with Daniel Carr here (who also tied for the team lead in goals last month) but it’s not too often that Gregoire plays well enough to warrant a mention. The injuries and recalls have resulted in him getting regular time on the second line and to his credit, he is playing well enough to stick around in that spot, at least for the time being. It’s far too early to say he’s turning the corner but this is a good step in the right direction.
Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +3 rating, 20 shots, 2 PIMS
1st Star: Jake Evans (Notre Dame, NCAA) – Evans gets the top spot here for the second straight month. He is the top point-producer in all of Division I hockey and happens to be a key faceoff guy as well. That has got him on the radar for the Olympics and he’s likely to be on Canada’s entry for the Spengler Cup in a few weeks from now. It’d be nice to see him shoot a bit more (he’s predominantly a playmaker) but it’s hard to argue much with how he has played this season.
Stats: 8 GP, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, +9 rating, 15 shots, 4 PIMS
2nd Star: Will Bitten (Hamilton, OHL) – While he’ll be disappointed with not getting a chance to play in the World Juniors, Bitten should be pleased with the strides he has taken since the start of the season. He’s becoming a lot more of a consistent threat and has even become a lot more reliable at the faceoff dot. He still has to get his entry-level contract but he appears to be well on his way to doing so.
Stats: 12 GP, 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points, +4 rating, 40 shots, 10 PIMS, 134/242 faceoffs (55.4%)
3rd Star: Michael Pezzetta (Sudbury, OHL) – Continuing the trend from some of Laval’s players on this list, Pezzetta produced offensively but struggled in his own end. Unlike the Laval veterans though, Pezzetta is someone who profiles as a bottom-six forward down the road (likely a fourth liner). Those players can’t afford to be poor in their own end. While his offensive progression is nice to see and was needed if he wants a shot at a contract, he’ll still have a hard time getting signed unless he becomes a better two-way player as well.
Stats: 12 GP, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, -12 rating, 38 shots, 18 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Cale Fleury (Regina, WHL) – There is some good and bad when it comes to his early trade from Kootenay. The good is that he gets to play on a much better team and one that will be in the Memorial Cup. The bad is that he’s no longer the go-to option in every situation so the ice time isn’t there as much. All things considered, Fleury has adapted to his new team and (slightly) lesser role well and it will be interesting to see if he grows into a bigger role as the season progresses.
Stats: 11 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -3 rating, 30 shots, 6 PIMS