The final full month of the regular season for most of Montreal’s prospects saw a couple of newcomers make their mark to earn spots in our March Prospect 3 Stars.
1st Star: Chris Terry – After missing a big chunk of February due to injury, Terry has been making up for lost time in the race for the top scorer in the AHL. He wound up dominating in March and earned himself Player of the Month honours so naturally, he has to be the top star here as well.
Stats: 16 GP, 7 goals, 14 assists, 21 points, -9 rating, 45 shots, 16 PIMS
2nd Star: Kerby Rychel – He got an opportunity to play a bigger role than he had with a much-deeper Toronto team and he certainly made the most of it, giving the top line another real scoring threat. His skating concerns aren’t as much of a hindrance in the minors and his shot was certainly a real weapon against lower-quality goaltending.
Stats: 14 GP, 8 goals, 4 assists, 12 points, -7 rating, 32 shots, 8 PIMS
3rd Star: Adam Cracknell – No shocker here as the third member of the top line gets the third spot here. For someone that has been more of a grinder in recent years, it really has been interesting seeing what he could do with a bigger role. I’m doubtful that it translates to an opportunity in Montreal next season but he certainly hasn’t hurt his chances of landing somewhere else.
Stats: 16 GP, 7 goals, 5 assists, 12 points, -15 rating, 37 shots, 15 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Eric Gelinas: There have been times where Gelinas has been a defensive liability but still produced and those where he has just been a defensive liability. He was the former in this case which, given how dreadful Laval was in terms of putting the puck in the net, gets him this spot virtually by default.
Stats: 15 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, -14 rating, 32 shots, 8 PIMS
1st Star: Will Bitten (Hamilton, OHL) – The end to Bitten’s season wasn’t the strongest but he made up for that with a strong showing in the first round of the playoffs (though he has tapered off into April). Offence isn’t going to be his calling card in the pros but he still has the makings of a quality bottom-six forward and I’m looking forward to seeing how quickly he adapts to the AHL game next season.
Reg. Season Stats: 7 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +2 rating, 11 shots, 4 PIMS
Postseason Stats: 5 GP, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +2 rating, 11 shots, 4 PIMS
2nd Star: Hayden Verbeek (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) – Montreal’s newest prospect immediately debuts on the list after a strong final month to his regular season. Like Bitten, I don’t see his offensive output carrying over to the minors but his speed should allow him to be an effective player at the next level, albeit in what will likely be a depth role.
Reg. Season Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +2 rating, 26 shots, 6 PIMS, 62/121 faceoffs
Postseason Stats: 4 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +4 rating, 8 shots, 0 PIMS, 35/70 faceoffs
3rd Star: Hayden Hawkey (Providence, NCAA) – While the postseason didn’t end as well as Hawkey would have hoped, he still had quite the strong month overall, posting some of his best numbers of the season. While it may have made some sense for him to turn pro next season, it appears he is heading back to the Friars for his senior season.
Stats: 6 GP, 4-2-0 record, 1.63 GAA, .934 SV%, 1 SO
Honourable Mention: Cale Fleury (Regina, WHL) – Although the season couldn’t have ended any worse for the Pats (getting eliminated in the first round is really rough considering they’re hosting the Memorial Cup) but it wasn’t because of Fleury. He had a steady end to his season and now will have plenty of time to rest any aches and pains before getting back to playing in mid-May.
Reg. Season Stats: 8 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, even rating, 21 shots, 4 PIMS
Postseason Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, +4 rating, 12 shots, 4 PIMS