The fourth quarter of the 2017-18 season featured a lot of players simply playing out the stretch but there were some notable performances which are highlighted in our grades, which focus on the forwards.
Players must have played in 5/21 games to receive a grade.
Brendan Gallagher – A: There are only so many ways to praise Gallagher’s play that we’re starting to repeat ourselves. He didn’t quit when others appeared to, he continued to get to the tough areas more than any other Montreal forward, and he did so while playing through some kind of injury. What more can you ask for?
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 10 goals, 8 assists, 18 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 73 shots
Alex Galchenyuk – A-: Galchenyuk saved his best for last and was the go-to player that the Canadiens have long envisioned him to be. However, I have to note that this happened a couple of years ago as well – when the Habs were out of it, that’s when his play picked up. Did the proverbial lightbulb go off or is he someone that is at his best when the pressure is off?
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points, -4 rating, 6 PIMS, 58 shots
Jonathan Drouin – B+: It took long enough but Drouin started to come to life but it’s too bad it came when the games didn’t matter. He looked a bit more comfortable at centre and made some strides at the faceoff dot which provides a bit of optimism if he is indeed down the middle to start next season. It wasn’t a great year overall but he had a decent finish if nothing else.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points, -1 rating, 14 PIMS, 37 shots
Artturi Lehkonen – B+: It took almost the entire season but there were encouraging signs from Lehkonen down the stretch. Not only did he manage to score against a team not named the Senators, he was a lot more aggressive with his shot and was driving the net with more regularity. Basically, he was the player he was in his rookie year; unfortunately, it just took him a long time to get to that level.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points, +1 rating, 8 PIMS, 55 shots
Paul Byron – B: Even while playing through a shoulder injury, Byron continued to produce while playing his typical game. There were some who took their foot off the gas in the dying weeks but he certainly wasn’t one of them. However, that shoulder surgery won’t help his cause heading into a contract year.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, +1 rating, 0 PIMS, 31 shots
Jacob de la Rose – B: The trade of Tomas Plekanec (and Phillip Danault’s concussion) opened up a spot for de la Rose to play on the second line and to his credit, he wasn’t half bad. There were some good nights and some rough ones but all in all, he showed enough of an offensive game to help earn him another chance next season.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +3 rating, 14 PIMS, 28 shots
Charles Hudon – B-: Hudon wasn’t healthy in the final weeks of the season and it showed. However, he was still his usual self when he was in the lineup, aggressive and pesky. The overall numbers on the season don’t stand out but it was a decent rookie campaign, especially considering he rarely was used in a top role.
4th Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -6 rating, 16 PIMS, 26 shots
Phillip Danault – C+: He was out for so long that it was tempting to give him an N/A grade here. He slowed down a little bit as the season progressed but I don’t think that will affect his contract talks too much. With not many free agents of note, his deal is the most prominent to get to this summer.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, even rating, 6 PIMS, 5 shots
Andrew Shaw – C+: The numbers don’t tell the tale but Shaw had been quietly effective before getting injured. He didn’t look out of place down the middle and while it’s fair to question if he’s a legitimate option as a full-time centre, he played well enough that the team can be confident to use him there when injuries strike. That flexibility is nice to have.
4th Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +1 rating, 6 PIMS, 11 shots
Daniel Carr – C: Claude Julien finally decided to give Carr more of a regular role down the stretch. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the best of impressions as he was a lot quieter than earlier in the year. He was still effective when he was used in a lesser role but this is a rare situation where his early-season production might actually hurt his chances of a qualifying offer (as it would make for a stronger arbitration case and the Habs may not want to risk the higher award).
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, -2 rating, 6 PIMS, 25 shots
Nicolas Deslauriers – C: A quieter run to finish the season but that wasn’t all that surprising as he was due for a dip in production. All in all though, he was still one of the bigger positives of the season and heads into the summer with some stability with his new contract in tow.
4th Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points, -2 rating, 34 PIMS, 25 shots
Logan Shaw – C: Shaw competently held down a fourth line role and wasn’t overwhelmed when he was moved up in the lineup. I know he’s a popular pick to be let go without a qualifying offer but considering he spent some time at centre and the fact that Byron and Andrew Shaw may be out to start the season, I think there’s a decent chance he gets brought back.
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, -5 rating, 4 PIMS, 21 shots
Nikita Scherbak – C-: Part of me thinks this is too harsh of a grade but I keep coming back to the opportunity he had and the fact he didn’t really do much with it. Scherbak played okay but when you’re essentially trying to make a play for a full-time NHL roster spot, is okay really good enough?
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points, -4 rating, 6 PIMS, 25 shots
Byron Froese – D: The end of the roster size limits put an end to Froese playing a regular role and that’s not a bad thing. As he was pretty much all season, he was a serviceable filler player but didn’t really bring anything to the table. Ideally, he’s a little further down the depth chart next season (he is under contract for one more year).
4th Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, -3 rating, 8 PIMS, 11 shots
Michael McCarron – D: He didn’t do anything to earn another look but the Habs gave him one anyway since they were already playing meaningless games. Even with next to no pressure, McCarron still struggled considerably and failed to make an impact. He’s waiver-eligible heading into next season but with the way he has played at the NHL level, is he really that much of a risk to be claimed?
4th Quarter Stats: 10 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -1 rating, 22 PIMS, 11 shots
N/A: Max Pacioretty (3 GP), Kerby Rychel (4 GP)