December wasn’t a great month for the Habs or their AHL affiliate but there were some prospects in the junior/college ranks that really steppedup. Here are our 3 Stars for the month.
1st Star: Chris Terry – When he gets going, there’s a case to be made that he’s the top offensive threat in the AHL. He showed that last month as he worked his way up to second in league scoring. Perhaps even more impressive is the consistency – he went just two games without a point for the entire month. Unfortunately, the Rocket didn’t get much help from the rest of the supporting cast but that can’t be held against Terry.
Stats: 13 GP, 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points, +1 rating, 52 shots, 12 PIMS
2nd Star: Nikita Scherbak – After missing well over a month with his knee injury, it would have been understandable if he scuffled a bit as he worked his way back into the lineup. That certainly didn’t happen. Instead, he basically picked up right where he left off as a high-end producer. Scherbak had worked his way into a stint with the Habs before he got hurt and it appears he’s on his way towards doing so again.
Stats: 8 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +1 rating, 21 shots, 8 PIMS
3rd Star: Charlie Lindgren – As has been the case this season, Lindgren had some good games and some rough ones but the good far outweighed the bad in December. Of his nine starts, he allowed two or fewer goals with only one real clunker where he allowed six goals. Unfortunately, Lindgren didn’t get a lot of offensive support beyond the front line but Laval would have had a few more losses last month had it not been for him.
Stats: 9 GP, 3-4-2 record, 2.44 GAA, .920 SV%
Honourable Mention: Adam Cracknell – When the Habs picked him up for Peter Holland, I didn’t even remotely consider the possibility that he’d play as a front-line centre. After being a fourth liner in the NHL for the last few years, he was in the bottom six in the minors with the Rangers. Consider me pleasantly surprised with what Cracknell has shown so far. He’s more than holding his own on the top line and considering Montreal’s need for centre help, he could play his way into a look with the Canadiens sooner than later.
Stats: 13 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 12 points, even rating, 29 shots, 6 PIMS
1st Star: Josh Brook (Moose Jaw, WHL) – A wrist injury sustained in the rookie tournament held Brook out of the lineup until last month but he has certainly made up for lost time. He has been nothing short of dominant so far in both ends (even with just a lone goal) and if he can maintain a level even close to this one for the rest of the season, he’s going to be moving up the rankings lists in a hurry.
Stats: 10 GP, 1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points, +15 rating, 28 shots, 2 PIMS
2nd Star: Will Bitten (Hamilton, OHL) – There was a bit of cause for concern early in the year when Bitten got off to a slow start. Considering he’s playing for a contract, that wasn’t ideal. He has made up for it and then some with his play over the last six weeks or so where he has taken his offensive game to a new level not only in terms of his production but also his consistency. Add that to his continued willingness to play an edgy style and Bitten is positioning himself nicely for an entry-level deal from the Habs.
Stats: 11 GP, 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, -1 rating, 32 shots, 10 PIMS, 42/95 faceoffs (44.2%)
3rd Star: Cayden Primeau (Northeastern, NCAA) – Montreal’s seventh-rounder from June (one that they dealt a future seventh to acquire) was really under the radar heading into the season after a mediocre stint in the USHL. He started out in a timeshare for the starters’ minutes but Primeau has forced himself into the top slot by putting up strong performance after strong performance. It’s still early but it’s looking like the Habs may have another intriguing youngster between the pipes.
Stats: 5 GP, 4-0-1 record (the 1 is a tie), 1.19 GAA, .957 SV%
Honourable Mention: Cale Fleury (Regina, WHL) – Fleury has settled in nicely following his early-season trade. He’s no longer being asked to be the pure workhorse on the back end but that hasn’t slowed him down any. His ability to move the puck quickly and join the rush has allowed him to rack up the points pretty quickly. His team just added another top defender which should push him into a bit of a lesser role for the stretch run and postseason though.
Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 9 assists, 10 points, +1 rating, 36 shots, 9 PIMS