With Laval getting closer to reaching the midway point of the season, it’s time to wrap up our first quarter grades with a look at the forwards.
Players must have played in 5/19 games to receive a grade.
Lukas Vejdemo – A-: After becoming more of a two-way option in the second half last season, it was good to see Vejdemo pick up where he left off despite finding himself pretty low on the depth chart to start. He also played a big role in what was a very strong penalty kill group in the early going. He earned his recall…now the Habs just need to give him a chance to actually play.
Stats: 19 GP, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points, -1 rating, 6 PIMS, 39 shots
Alex Belzile – B+: His production dipped a little bit but that wasn’t overly surprising considering his offensive breakout came out of nowhere a year ago. What was nice was that he continued to be an all situations player and was trending towards being recalled until the injury bug ended his year prematurely.
Stats: 19 GP, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points, -1 rating, 26 PIMS, 49 shots
Charles Hudon – B: The goal total was nice as the expectation was that he’d come in and produce. However, his all-around game left something to be desired. He’s not going to be a scorer in the NHL so he needs to show improvement in other areas if he wants to get another shot with the Habs and have a shot at succeeding in a lower role.
Stats: 17 GP, 9 goals, 2 assists, 11 points, even rating, 12 PIMS, 60 shots
Joe Cox – B: For someone that was a filler on a PTO a year ago with no AHL experience, the fact that Cox has locked down a regular spot in Laval’s lineup is impressive in itself. He hasn’t been anywhere near as productive as he was in the ECHL but that’s not all that surprising considering he spent most of the early stretch of the season in a depth role.
Stats: 17 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +1 rating, 6 PIMS, 15 shots
Nikita Jevpalovs – C+: He didn’t have to jump around the lineup as much as he did a season ago. Instead, he was a fixture in the bottom six (largely the fourth line) which is the proper role for him. He didn’t give up much defensively and was okay at the offensive end. Nothing exciting but they need a few players like that.
Stats: 17 GP, 3 goals, 1 assist, 4 points, -3 rating, 8 PIMS, 17 shots
Kevin Lynch – C+: When healthy, Lynch has been a serviceable defensive forward and hasn’t really missed a beat when asked to shift between centre and the wing. For a late addition that didn’t even get much of a training camp to work with, he has been a useful player for Laval all things considered.
Stats: 11 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, +2 rating, 8 PIMS, 13 shots
Ryan Poehling – C: I’m not all that concerned that he wasn’t producing in the AHL early on. There is an adjustment to make going from college to the pros and not everyone makes that right away. What did concern me was him admitting that he had a hard time getting over getting cut despite missing most of training camp with a concussion. It was the logical move and most rookies – even promising ones – start in the minors. That shouldn’t have had the effect it did on him; management shouldn’t have had to sit down to give him a pep talk that quickly.
Stats: 17 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, -2 rating, 4 PIMS, 19 shots
Riley Barber – C: For someone that was brought in to be a scorer, one goal in the opening stretch of the year isn’t going to cut it. Yes, he missed some time due to injury (and was better after that to earn a recall) but they need him to produce consistently and that didn’t happen.
Stats: 19 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 12 points, -6 rating, 5 PIMS, 49 shots
Matthew Peca – C: Peca wasn’t a big scorer in the minors with Tampa so the expectations for him were a bit different despite spending all of last season in the NHL (in a limited role). Peca’s versatility came in handy but even with that, averaging less than two shots per game isn’t great. He doesn’t need to be a volume shooter but Peca was guilty of being a bit too passive around the net.
Stats: 13 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -7 rating, 2 PIMS, 23 shots
Alexandre Alain – C: Playing time was at a premium early on so the limited offence is understandable to an extent. I like that he settled in on the one line that was largely left intact (anchored by Vejdemo) as a good two-way unit. But if he wants to move up the depth chart, he’ll need to start to do more to establish himself as being a key player, not a complementary piece.
Stats: 17 GP, 3 goals, 1 assist, 4 points, +1 rating, 6 PIMS, 37 shots
Dale Weise – C-: Weise came into the season with an opportunity to show that he’s worthy of a look from the Habs at some point. Instead, he looks like someone that’s just putting in time. I understand why the motivation isn’t there but with the injuries the Habs have had, a better showing with Laval could have got him some NHL time.
Stats: 17 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -2 rating, 8 PIMS, 20 shots
Michael McCarron – C-: When he was injured, Joel Bouchard gave him a public vote of confidence which likely played a role in the Habs giving him one more chance. McCarron hasn’t rewarded his coach’s faith in him. He has been okay in a middle-six role but for someone with NHL first-round pedigree from six years ago, that’s not much of an accomplishment.
Stats: 13 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, even rating, 20 PIMS, 24 shots
Antoine Waked – C-: For someone who needs to earn a qualifying offer in the summer, Waked isn’t helping his cause. He’s a passable depth piece and he didn’t even do much in the ECHL at the beginning of the year. He’s good at spending time in the penalty box but that’s not really much of an asset.
Stats: 6 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, even rating, 24 PIMS, 4 shots
Jake Evans – D+: After a strong showing in training camp, Evans had put himself in a spot to be an early recall if injuries arose in Montreal. That isn’t the case anymore. He quickly worked his way off the top line and had a stretch where he was on the fourth line (and still didn’t play well). He may only be in his second pro season but at 23, more is expected from him offensively.
Stats: 19 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, -9 rating, 10 PIMS, 32 shots
Phil Varone – D: Varone was supposed to be someone that could be a legitimate top liner based on his past production; he nearly led the AHL in scoring just two years ago. Instead, he looked lost at times. Maybe Bouchard’s system was hard to adapt to but when he returns (and that should be soon), they need a whole lot more from him than he provided early on.
Stats: 11 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, -5 rating, 0 PIMS, 12 shots
N/A: Michael Pezzetta (4 GP)