January was a rough month in Laval but several players still put forth strong months. In the amateur ranks, several CHL players had strong months and earn high rankings in our January 3 Stars.
1st Star: Adam Cracknell – On a team that has had considerable trouble scoring over the last couple of months, Cracknell is no exception. After being shifted down the middle, he has come to life offensively. While he has been the complementary player on the top line, he has scored several high-quality goals and hasn’t looked out of place. He has earned a shot with the Habs and with the way they’re looking for centres, he has positioned himself to be the next one to be recalled (on merit, at least).
Stats: 11 GP, 10 goals, 3 assists, 13 points, -3 rating, 25 shots, 14 PIMS
2nd Star: Nikita Scherbak – When he got off to a hot start to the season, I wanted to see if he could maintain it. Before that could happen, he was recalled and got hurt. When Scherbak came back, he picked up where he left off but I still wanted to see if he could sustain it over a longer period of time. That’s exactly what he has done and as a result, he earned his promotion back to Montreal.
Stats: 10 GP, 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points, -6 rating, 16 shots, 6 PIMS
3rd Star: Matt Taormina – There are only so many different ways to say he’s doing exactly what he was brought in to do. Taormina is there to provide offence and he does that as he leads all AHL blueliners in scoring. He also contributes to some offence at the defensive end from poor plays but they knew that would be the case when they signed him/
Stats: 11 GP, 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, -5 rating, 24 shots, 4 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Daniel Audette – After a quiet first half of the season, Audette has started to be more productive lately. Injuries and recalls have seen him move into the top-six (at times the front line as well) and he has made the most of those opportunities. It’s likely that Laval will continue to be pillaged in the weeks to come so this should be his chance to take a top role and really run with it.
Stats: 11 GP, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, +3 rating, 24 shots, 4 PIMS
1st Star: Will Bitten (Hamilton, OHL) – After coming in the second spot the last two months, Bitten takes home the top billing this month. While his offensive numbers on their own are impressive, even more so is his consistency. After putting up 14 points in November and 15 in December, he put up 15 in January and had a point in all but one of his games. He appears to be well on his way to earning a contract and it wouldn’t be surprising to see something announced in March when future contracts can be signed.
Stats: 11 GP, 5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, +5 rating, 26 shots, 4 PIMS, 20/30 faceoffs
2nd Star: Hayden Hawkey (Providence, NCAA) – While Cayden Primeau has (rightfully) garnered plenty of attention this season, Hawkey has slid under the radar once again and quietly put up the better month of January. Although he has one year of college eligibility left after this one, it will be interesting to see if the Habs make a push to turn him pro with Charlie Lindgren likely moving up to Montreal next year and Zach Fucale’s future being murky at best.
Stats: 8 GP, 5-1-2 record, 1.72 GAA, .917 SV%, 1 SO
3rd Star: Cale Fleury (Regina, WHL) – While not being the top guy on the back end can be negative from a development perspective, Fleury has flourished without the weight of being the go-to guy in all situations. He has settled in well with the Pats and has provided good secondary offence behind Anaheim prospect Josh Mahura while logging minutes on the penalty kill as well. Things are looking up for Fleury.
Stats: 14 GP, 1 goal, 12 assists, 13 points, +13 rating, 36 shots, 16 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Michael Pezzetta (Sudbury/Sarnia, OHL) – The trade from the Wolves hasn’t really slowed Pezzetta down as he moved into a top-six role right away with the Sting and fit in right away. That said, while his production is certainly up this year (he has a chance to have more points this year than his previous three combined), that’s not going to be his calling card in the pros. He’s a fourth line centre type of player so it’s a little concerning that he has been shifted to the wing in recent weeks.
Stats: 10 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, +8 rating, 35 shots, 6 PIMS, 41/74 faceoffs