It may be a while yet before we see NHL or AHL action but a handful of Montreal prospects are currently playing in leagues overseas. Accordingly, it’s time to bring back our monthly features, highlighting the top performers of the month.
Since there is no AHL and other leagues, we’ll have just one set of stars although we’ll throw in an extra honourable mention as well.
1st Star: Charles Hudon (Lausanne, NLA) – It’s hard to have much of a better start than Hudon has with his new team as he had at least a point in each of his four games, scoring in three. He demonstrated that he’s capable of being a productive sniper in the AHL where players have just a bit more time to work with in the offensive end. The NLA is another one of those leagues and Hudon is putting the extra time and space to good use so far. He’s not really a prospect anymore like the others on this list are but he earns the top spot nonetheless.
Stats: 4 GP, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, +3 rating, 0 PIMS
2nd Star: Otto Leskinen (KalPa, SM-liiga) – He got off to a bit of a slow start in his return to his former team but Leskinen has settled in nicely as a go-to threat on Kuopio’s back end. He’s starting to show more confidence with the puck which is something that seemed to be an issue down the stretch with Laval. Leskinen has a lot to play for this season as his entry-level contract will be expiring and with Montreal’s suddenly-deeper left side on the back end, he’ll need to do a lot to get a qualifying offer. This should help his cause a bit.
Stats: 8 GP, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +5 rating, 8 PIMS, 32 shots, 18:39 ATOI
3rd Star: Alexander Gordin (SKA-1946 Saint-Petersburg, MHL) – Without context, Gordin’s numbers would seemingly have him worthy of the top spot on this list. He has simply been dominant at the MHL level which is two levels below the KHL. However, it begs the question – why was he there for so long? This is a situation like Hudon in Switzerland where the extra time and space affords him a better chance to get his shot off – and he can really shoot. He has now been moved up a level and here’s hoping he’ll stay in the VHL this time around.
Stats: 8 GP, 6 goals, 5 assists, 11 points, even rating, 8 PIMS, 17:29 ATOI
Honourable Mention 1: Mattias Norlinder (Frolunda, SHL) – Are the offensive numbers jumping off the charts? No, but I don’t really care at this stage. Norlinder is adjusting to a new league and a higher calibre of play and that takes time. At this point, I want to see defensive improvements and by all accounts, he has held his own in that regard. The offence should come as he gets more comfortable (or his own team gets a better feel for when Norlinder wants to jump into the attack which is quite often) but so far, it’s a solid start.
Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -3 rating, 6 PIMS, 21 shots, 3 hits, 18:06 ATOI
Honourable Mention 2: Lukas Vejdemo (Sodertalje, Allsvenskan) – I have to admit, I was looking for a bit more from him in the second-tier Swedish league (SHL teams weren’t taking loans from NHL clubs). Vejdemo hasn’t been bad by any stretch but he’s not even in a situation where he’s logging heavy minutes; he’s playing less than he was in Laval. There’s a lot riding on next season for him in North America and a good showing here could help give him a leg up in the battle for the 13th spot with the Habs. Being merely decent at this level isn’t going to move the needle much.
Stats: 10 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +3 rating, 6 PIMS, 20 shots, 4 hits, 13:29 ATOI