With the last few weeks being disastrous for the Laval Rocket, let’s look back at the better part of their season instead with their first quarter grades.
Players must have played in at least 5/19 games to receive a grade. Considering how late these are relative to their current spot on the schedule (my apologies for that), the focus here will be only for those on NHL contracts and only if they’re still in the organization. Moving forward, the plan is to go back to the usual two-article format which will include all players.
Charlie Lindgren – C: This is supposed to be the season where he really stakes his claim as being a goalie that’s too good to stay in the minors. He wasn’t that in the first quarter of the year as he was beaten by uncharacteristically soft and untimely goals. On the plus side, he has been much better since coming back down from Montreal (and his time there isn’t reflected in this grade).
1st Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 3-3-2 record, 3.53 GAA, .885 SV%, 1 SO
Michael McNiven – C: With Lindgren up and Fucale (more on him shortly) struggling, McNiven got a chance to play earlier than expected. Not surprisingly, his performance was hit or miss. He wasn’t helped by the fact that the defence really started to fall apart in front of him so even though the numbers are far from pretty, it’s not much cause for concern just yet.
1st Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 2-2-1 record, 3.80 GAA, .888 SV%, 0 SO
Zach Fucale – C-: With Lindgren scuffling, Fucale had a chance to stake a claim for more playing time or at the very least, showcase himself around the league a bit. He got his opportunity and the results were no different than the usual – some good moments mixed in with some really bad ones. The fact that consistency is still a major problem is a concern and as a result, his opportunity to play will be more limited moving forward.
1st Quarter Stats: 7 GP, 4-2-0 record, 3.54 GAA, .879 SV%, 0 SO
Matt Taormina – A: The reigning Defenceman of the Year has been as advertised. He is a high-end threat from the blueline and he isn’t shy about jumping into the play to look for odd-man rushes. However, Taormina is a defensive liability most nights which is what will keep him with the Rocket and away from Montreal. Still, it’s hard to argue with a point-per-game contribution from a defender.
1st Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2-17-19, -5, 6 PIMS, 37 shots
Jakub Jerabek – B: Jerabek has had games where he looked like he didn’t belong in the AHL and games where he looked like he didn’t belong in the AHL (and yes, those are two different things). The first of those were the games where he played so well where it looked like he should have already been in Montreal. There were, however, a few others where he was completely overmatched, especially in the defensive end. He’s with the Habs now but it’s clear he’s still a project player despite already being 26.
1st Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 1-10-11, +10, 16 PIMS, 17 shots
Tom Parisi – B: Parisi has gone from an afterthought last season to someone who has held down a spot on the second pairing for the better part of the year. He also is the top defensive player on the left side by default (which, admittedly, isn’t much of a competition when the other options are Taormina and the defensively-challenged Eric Gelinas) but being steady has seen him get rewarded with a lot more playing time. I think he still has a long way to go to get a second contract but he’s back on the radar at the very least.
1st Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 3-1-4, +3, 8 PIMS, 37 shots
Simon Bourque – C-: Bourque hasn’t had much of a chance to play so far as he has been a frequent healthy scratch (with no trips to Brampton, which is a mistake). When he has played, he has been overwhelmed at times and his offensive game, something that he was known for in junior, hasn’t materialized yet. It’s still early though but he needs to be playing somewhere; sitting a first-year pro is not a smart move from a development perspective.
1st Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIMS, 6 shots
Brett Lernout – D: This season is Lernout’s chance to show that he can be a part of Montreal’s future plans. The hope was that he could hold down a top-pairing spot. That hasn’t happened with any sort of consistency and he hasn’t played well often when he’s up there. Instead, he has been more of a depth player, especially through the first quarter of the year. He’s not making the right impression so far.
1st Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 0-1-1, -9, 16 PIMS, 27 shots
N/A: David Schlemko
AHL Deals: Eric Gelinas, Stefan Leblanc
Nikita Scherbak – A: It’s hard to think of a player who has more to prove this season than Scherbak. He needed to establish himself as a consistent legitimate front-line threat and he did exactly that, demonstrating the type of skill that made him stand out positively. That got him an early recall and things have gone downhill from there with his injury. But while he was with the Rocket, things couldn’t have gone much better.
1st Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 1-8-9, +3, 4 PIMS, 15 shots
Daniel Carr – A: After clearing waivers, Carr went back to doing the things that made him successful two years ago with the Habs. He started driving the net more often and the goals were coming fast and furious. After being more of a complementary piece with St. John’s last year, Carr re-established himself as a legitimate top liner. He’ll be missed as it doesn’t look likely that he’ll be back in Laval now.
1st Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 11-7-18, -3, 13 PIMS, 52 shots
Byron Froese – B+: Froese in the minors is a lot different than Froese in the NHL. The AHL version is someone who is a considerable point getter and whose speed is a real threat. He did just that with Laval before being recalled to the Habs where, as we know, he is a completely different player. The NHL version isn’t anything to write home about but AHL Froese got off to a good start overall.
1st Quarter Stats: 13 GP, 3-8-11, -1, 6 PIMS, 26 shots
Jeremy Gregoire – B+: Gregoire was a huge disappointment last year after he demonstrated little progress in his development to the point where he was being scratched. That’s different this season as he has been more productive in a bottom six role and has held his own when he has been moved into the top six. There’s still a lot of work to do but his start is certainly encouraging.
1st Quarter Stats: 13 GP, 3-5-8, +5, 7 PIMS, 19 shots
Chris Terry – B: Offensively, he picked up where he left off last season so I can’t be too critical there. However, his defensive play, an area that he was decent at in Carolina, has left a lot to be desired. As long as he’s producing, he’s doing well enough but playing more of an all-around game would certainly be beneficial for the Rocket.
1st Quarter Stats: 16 GP, 9-8-17, -10, 15 PIMS, 50 shots
Daniel Audette – B-: He hasn’t become a reliable go-to threat just yet (when the team was fully healthy or even now) but Audette has taken some strides towards that in the early going. He’s at his most effective when he’s away from the top checkers but if he wants to establish himself as a viable recall option, he will have to learn to become more productive in those situations.
1st Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 5-5-10, -7, 14 PIMS, 36 shots
Kyle Baun – B-: He started off the year on the fourth line but worked his way up pretty quickly. Over the first few weeks, he was hit-or-miss offensively without a lot of in between. For someone in their third professional season with unrestricted free agency on the horizon (he qualifies as a Group VI player),
1st Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 2-7-9, +8, 8 PIMS, 30 shots
Nicolas Deslauriers – B-: He’s never going to be known as a skilled player but Deslauriers was able to do more than run around and hit people. He also dropped back to play defence for a game while playing as a defender on the penalty kill on several occasions. That type of versatility is a real asset for Laval to have although there’s no guarantee that he’ll make it back there the rest of the season.
1st Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 3-2-5, +6, 16 PIMS, 31 shots
Markus Eisenschmid – C+: I’d like to go higher here as he played relatively well but once again, a long-term injury has stalled his development. This is the third straight year where that has been the case. Laval is counting on Eisenschmid to be a fairly important part of their team but if he can’t stay healthy, he can’t be meeting those expectations.
1st Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 1-2-3, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 16 shots
Michael McCarron – C+: While McCarron isn’t going to be a scorer in the NHL, it was still hoped that he could show that he can be more than a complementary piece in the minors. Despite spending a lot of time on the top line, he just wasn’t much of an offensive threat most nights. He benefits from the slower pace to play a lot better than he does with the Habs but he needs to find that next gear.
1st Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 2-6-8, even rating, 28 PIMS, 26 shots
Antoine Waked – C: He started the season in more of a prominent role after a surprisingly strong training camp with the Habs. That momentum didn’t last long and he was quickly dropped down where he has become less and less of a factor in recent weeks. If Laval adds a few more players up front as players return (or if they make a move or two to add help), I’d like to see Waked get some time in Brampton in an offensive role instead of just being pigeonholed as a grinder as he has been.
1st Quarter Stats: 16 GP, 2-2-4, -3 rating, 4 PIMS, 16 shots
AHL Contracts: Jordan Boucher, David Broll, Thomas Ebbing, Niki Petti, Yannick Veilleux
No longer in organization: Peter Holland, Martin Reway