April was a tough month in Laval as there was minimal scoring over the final couple of weeks of their season. The same can’t be said for some of their junior prospects as they get the spotlight in our monthly three stars.
1st Star: Nikita Jevpalovs – Granted, most of his production came in one game but boy, what a game that was. He scored in the last minute of regulation to get the game to overtime and then added a highlight-reel winner in the extra frame to end the season on a winning note. Jevpalovs wound up being a useful player this season as he moved up and down the lineup and played in various roles.
Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, even rating, 12 PIMS, 20 shots
2nd Star: Michael Pezzetta – While he was largely quiet in March, Pezzetta was a little more noticeable on the scoresheet in April while still playing a physical style. I’d suggest his overall upside is rather limited – he’s an ideal fourth liner in Laval – so he will need to take more consistent advantage of any opportunities he gets with more playing time next season.
Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, +1 rating, 14 PIMS, 11 shots
3rd Star: Alex Belzile – Sure, he tailed off a little bit but who didn’t down the stretch? Belzile still had some good chances and popped a couple of goals which somehow made him one of the top scorers of the part-month. What a year he had. I don’t think anyone saw him leading the team in scoring when he quietly signed back in July.
Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 15 shots
Honourable Mention: Cale Fleury – Alright, this one is more for his season as a whole rather than April alone. It was a nice rookie year for Fleury who worked himself into a top-four role pretty quickly and stayed there the rest of the way. He also showed considerable improvement as the season went on. He has a long way to go to be ready for the NHL (don’t be putting him in discussions of pushing for an NHL roster spot) but the upside is certainly intriguing.
Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -4 rating, 0 PIMS, 2 shots
1st Star: Nick Suzuki (Guelph, OHL) – His month has been well-documented already so I won’t rehash everything here. Just remember that he was a key cog in them winning a lot of must-win elimination games while he leads the CHL in postseason scoring. There’s not a whole lot more he can do.
Stats: 14 GP, 9 goals, 15 assists, 24 points, +8 rating, 10 PIMS, 58 shots, 150/303 faceoffs (49.5%)
2nd Star: Joel Teasdale (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL) – Considering he averaged over two points per game, there’s a case to be made that he should get the top spot over Suzuki but the Huskies’ team dominance pushes Teasdale back ever so slightly. He plays a fundamentally sound game and is willing to get to the dirty areas which are elements of his game that will prove useful when he turns pro next season.
Stats: 9 GP, 8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points, +7 rating, 2 PIMS, 43 shots
3rd Star: Allan McShane (Oshawa, OHL) – The Generals weren’t able to get past the second round but McShane wasn’t to blame for that as he had a strong series. While his regular season performance was inconsistent, he picked up his play in the playoffs. If he can keep that up into 2019-20, he’ll be primed for a breakout campaign.
Stats: 10 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, even rating, 0 PIMS, 17 shots, 78/160 faceoffs (48.8%)
Honourable Mention: Scott Walford (Victoria, WHL) – He didn’t play too often but he made more of an impact than Cole Fonstad so Walford gets the nod here. He had a strong finish to his series and it seemed like he had done enough for an entry-level deal but that still hasn’t happened yet. They have until the end of the month to get him signed; I wonder if they are in on some international free agents and whether or not they get them will determine Walford’s fate (and Jarret Tyszka’s as well).