Another year has come to an end in Laval and injuries certainly limited them down the stretch. However, a few forwards still had strong finishes to earn top marks in our fourth quarter grades.
Jake Evans – A: There wasn’t a whole lot of in between when it came to Evans this season. He was either making an impact or wasn’t doing a whole lot. This stretch of games was arguably his best before an injury ended his season prematurely. It’s looking like he’ll be back with Laval given Montreal’s recent moves but he’ll be counted on to be a key piece right away next season.
4th Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 2-12-14, -5, 10 PIMS, 25 shots
Alex Belzile – B+: It took nearly the entire season but Belzile finally started to struggle a little bit. Considering how long he was the focal point of the attack, it’s impressive that it took this long given that he had never been more than a complementary piece heading into this season. He had quite the season and is certainly worthy of another contract for 2019-20.
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 6-5-11, -5, 16 PIMS, 47 shots
Lukas Vejdemo – B+: He was sent to finish his season on a high note before it also ended prematurely due to injury. After being fairly quiet offensively to start the year, Vejdemo made some strides at that end as the year went on while being reliable as usual in his own end. Given the accumulation of centre depth lately, he’ll need to take another step forward in the attacking zone to be in the mix for a recall next season.
4th Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 3-3-6, -1, 0 PIMS, 25 shots
Daniel Audette – B: To his credit, Audette got better as the season went along and he finished up on a good note as one of the go-to threats offensively. That said, through three years of his entry-level deal, he hasn’t come close to showing enough promise to warrant a recall which makes it hard to justify giving him a qualifying offer this summer.
4th Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 4-5-9, -4, 16 PIMS, 40 shots
Nikita Jevpalovs – B: He can go quiet at times but Jevpalovs has a knack for some highlight-reel goals while he willed the Rocket to a win in the final game of the season. He falls a little shy of qualifying for veteran status so if he’s open to signing for another year, he’d be worth keeping around for extra depth.
4th Quarter Stats: 15 GP, 4-3-7, -2, 14 PIMS, 24 shots
Matthew Struthers – B: Coming in right after his junior career came to an end, Struthers made a decent first impression. He saw some time in late-game situations and even earned some more playing time as he went along. It’s not time to hand him an entry-level deal by any stretch but an invite to Development Camp in July is something that they should be considering.
4th Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 1-0-1, -3, 0 PIMS, 5 shots
Alexandre Grenier – B-: It took him way too long to make an impact but Grenier actually had a few decent games in this stretch. It’s nowhere near enough to justify another contract given his veteran status but at least he finished up on a better note.
4th Quarter Stats: 13 GP, 1-8-9, even rating, 11 PIMS, 24 shots
Alexandre Alain – C: Unsurprisingly, Alain looked like he was hitting the rookie wall as the season went on. It came to a head over the final weeks where instead of taking advantage of the potential for more playing time, his role wound up getting reduced. That said, it wasn’t a bad rookie season overall.
4th Quarter Stats: 16 GP, 1-4-5, -8, 6 PIMS, 27 shots
Thomas Ebbing – C: He didn’t play well at all in Laval last season but his brief second go-round with the team was a little better. Ebbing was able to move off the fourth line at times and held his own, something that wasn’t the case very often last season.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIMS, 7 shots
Michael Pezzetta – C: The physicality was there but Pezzetta didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to show that he can play more than just a fourth line energy role. I think the Habs made a mistake by not giving him more ECHL time during the season to work on his overall game.
4th Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2-1-3, -6, 44 PIMS, 19 shots
Hayden Verbeek – C-: The various injuries gave Verbeek an opportunity to step up and claim a larger role for the stretch run. It didn’t happen. His speed is a real weapon but that alone isn’t going to make him much of an impact player in the pros.
4th Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 1-1-2, -3, 7 PIMS, 22 shots
Alex Kile – C-: Kile wasn’t bad in the early going with Laval but he got exposed over the last six weeks of the season as being someone that isn’t good enough to be a regular AHL player just yet. Having said that, he was one of their better in-season tryouts up front overall.
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 1-1-2, -9, 4 PIMS, 13 shots
Antoine Waked – D+: He was playing a little better before getting injured but went back to being largely a non-factor upon his return. And then he was injured again.
4th Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 13 PIMS, 5 shots
Morgan Adams-Moisan – D: He actually displayed a decent scoring touch in the ECHL but whenever he saw time with the Rocket, you’d never know he was capable of putting the puck in the net. It’s telling that at times they were using ECHL tryouts over having Adams-Moisan (actually under an AHL contract) in the lineup.
4th Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 0-1-1, -2, 11 PIMS, 7 shots
Phelix Martineau – D: Martineau was overmatched on the fourth line when he got to play with Laval earlier in the season. The rash of injuries forced him into time in a top-six role. Not surprisingly, the results left a lot to be desired.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0-0-0, -6, 2 PIMS, 7 shots
Marc-Olivier Roy – D-: There was nothing to justify bringing him back after they released him the first time let alone the second time. Roy was the definition of the term ‘field filler’. The fact that this was one of their first options to turn to is a sign that they need to do a much better job at stockpiling some depth for next season so that they’re not forced to turn to players like Roy on multiple occasions to simply get to 12 forwards on the roster.
4th Quarter Stats: 10 GP, 0-0-0, -5, 6 PIMS, 5 shots
Hunter Shinkaruk – F: This was a horrific ending to a simply abysmal season. Shinkaruk was injured for a bit and when he did play, he was merely putting in time and not much in the effort department. It was only a few years ago when he was viewed as someone with legitimate NHL potential but he’ll be lucky to get an AHL contract offer from someone next season.
4th Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIMS, 6 shots
N/A: Joe Cox (8 GP but was surprisingly released), Phillipe Hudon (3 GP)