February wasn’t a great month in Laval but the same can’t be said for Montreal’s junior prospects as several youngsters completely dominated in the month of February and get the spotlight in our three stars.
1st Star: Michael Chaput – We all know Chaput couldn’t produce with the Habs but he’s a productive player in the minors. After clearing waivers midway through the month, he made a significant impact right away in all facets of the game. Naturally, this meant he had to go the way Marc Bergevin has viewed AHL depth in recent years… (Yes, I agree that dealing an AHL player for an NHL player is usually a good idea but a follow-up move to replace Chaput would have been nice.)
Stats: 6 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, 2 rating, 10 shots, 0 PIMS
2nd Star: Alex Belzile – The quality of linemates keeps going down but Belzile’s production has largely been steady and that continued into February. Truth be told, I actually was expecting the Habs to convert him to an NHL contract by the trade deadline (something they could still do, I suppose, but he wouldn’t be playoff-eligible). One small concern I have is his penalty frequency which is starting to become a bit of an issue and is something he’ll need to clean up down the stretch.
Stats: 12 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, -2 rating, 25 shots, 16 PIMS
3rd Star: Lukas Vejdemo – It has taken a while (longer than I figured it would) but the rookie is starting to make more of a consistent impact after a solid stretch of games last month. He’s now likely to play in a top-six role the rest of the season as Laval ices an all-rookie centre group and will need to show that he can be more than a tertiary scorer to avoid falling down the depth chart.
Stats: 12 GP, 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, +3 rating, 16 shots, 4 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Michael Pezzetta – It has not been a great rookie season for him. It hasn’t even been a good one as injuries and general ineffectiveness have limited Pezzetta to a minor role. However, he’s now receiving regular playing time and is starting to make the most of it, contributing offensively while not shying away from the rough stuff as well. He has a long way to go to get to actual prospect status but last month was at least a small step in that direction.
Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -4 rating, 16 shots, 2 PIMS
1st Star: Cole Fonstad (Prince Albert, WHL) – Fonstad was very quiet early on in the year to the point where it was becoming a little concerning. However, his production has steadily picked up since December and he broke out last month with his best month at the junior level. He only had three games without a point and had three others of at least three. The Raiders are the class of the WHL and all of a sudden, Fonstad is among their top scorers.
Stats: 12 GP, 10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points, +15 rating, 38 shots, 4 PIMS
2nd Star: Josh Brook (Moose Jaw, WHL) – I’m quickly running out of ways to praise him differently each month as he makes his regular appearance. It’s steady as she goes for Brook who now leads the league in points per game by a defenceman while being one of the top overall blueliners in the league. While he almost certainly won’t play, it’s likely he’ll be up with the Habs as a Black Ace if the Warriors are eliminated from the postseason quickly.
Stats: 13 GP, 6 goals, 12 assists, 18 points, -1 rating, 46 shots, 44 PIMS
3rd Star: Nick Suzuki (Guelph, OHL) – The beginning of the month wasn’t great for Suzuki and it looked as if he was struggling to adapt to his new team. That changed pretty quickly as his line dominated in the second half of February (and early March) and all of a sudden, he looks explosive once again. He should be in line for a lengthy postseason run with the Storm loading up back at the trade deadline.
Stats: 12 GP, 5 goals, 15 assists, 20 points, +12 rating, 51 shots, 6 PIMS, 70/122 faceoffs (57.4%)
Honourable Mention: Joel Teasdale (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL) – While a lot of this is simply based on being on a top team, Teasdale’s goal output since being dealt to the Huskies is certainly notable as he’s scoring at close to a goal-per-game clip. That type of prowess is something he hasn’t shown in the past (even with a 30-goal season last year) so while it’s unlikely to carry over to the professional level next season, it certainly provides some reason for optimism as he looks to make the jump.
Stats: 10 GP, 11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points, +9 rating, 52 shots, 6 PIMS