The month of March saw several of Montreal’s unsigned prospects have strong showings while a handful of Laval players frequently lit the lamp as well, earning them a spot in our three stars.
1st Star: Joel Teasdale – For someone that was supposed to ease back into things after missing a year and a half, that plan didn’t last very long. Last month, the rookie was a fixture inside Laval’s top six and made a significant impact offensively while providing a strong two-way presence as well. I have to admit, I thought Teasdale was going to have a quiet season with next year being an opportunity for a breakout. He’s ahead of schedule.
Stats: 13 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, +7 rating, 0 PIMS, 32 shots
2nd Star: Joseph Blandisi – I feel he’s often overlooked among Rocket players but he’s actually one of their most experienced players. He has found a home on what alternates between the second line and top line (depending on how many regulars are injured) and if there is one thing Blandisi does well, it’s put up points. The limitations on the rest of his game will ultimately prevent him from a recall but production is production and it’s hard to complain about how he has fared there.
Stats: 13 GP, 7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points, +7 rating, 20 PIMS, 24 shots
3rd Star: Ryan Poehling – Has the proverbial light bulb turned on? After quite frankly being basically a no-show for parts of last season, Poehling is much more engaged this season. The numbers weren’t there at the beginning of the year but have improved as of late, resulting in his best-ever month in the minors statistically. While there may be a temptation to call him up, I’d keep him down and let him build on what he’s doing. Sometimes, a recall can stymie momentum (the Habs have made that mistake with several youngsters over the years) so here’s hoping they take the slower approach.
Stats: 13 GP, 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points, +1 rating, 0 PIMS, 24 shots
Honourable Mention: Jordan Weal – As much as I’m sure he’d prefer to be in the NHL, being with Laval is probably the best thing for him. He’s getting to play heavy minutes while being in an offensive role which his game is more tailor-made for. It’s clear he’s not getting anywhere close to the money he’s getting now but he’ll have a better shot of getting decent money putting up numbers on a winning team in the minors than being a perpetual healthy scratch on the taxi squad. After a sluggish end to February and a slow start to March (combining for a seven-game point drought), he did just that, averaging a point per game the rest of the way.
Stats: 12 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +6 rating, 12 PIMS, 23 shots
1st Star: Cole Caufield (Wisconsin, NCAA) – It’s the last time he’ll appear in this section of the three stars as he quickly turned pro after the Badgers were somewhat surprisingly eliminated in the first round of the end-of-season tournament. It wasn’t from a lack of effort from Caufield in that game either as he was quite noticeable and effective. He came into the season looking to prove that he was ready to move on to a higher level and he certainly accomplished that.
Stats: 5 GP, 8 goals, 2 assists, 10 points, -4 rating, 2 PIMS, 42 shots
2nd Star: Sean Farrell (Chicago, USHL) – This was a quieter month for the fourth-rounder, at least by his lofty standards as he fell short of the two points per game mark. Having said that, he is still lighting it up and set a new team record in points early in the month. Yes, he’s too good for the level but as far as playing time goes, there aren’t many Montreal prospects that have seen more ice time that Farrell has this season.
Stats: 10 GP, 5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, +5 rating, 4 PIMS, 28 shots
3rd Star: Gianni Fairbrother (Everett, WHL) – At least he gets to play after being sent back from Laval (Kaiden Guhle was injured in his second game). It’s going to be tough to really evaluate Fairbrother given the very short season but he’s off to a nice start and is getting a lot of ice time with the Silvertips on their top playing while seeing power play and penalty kill time. He’s going to be in a situation with Laval next season where his playing time will be much more limited so taking advantage of this limited opportunity will be crucial.
Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 7 assists, 7 points, +6 rating, 7 PIMS, 16 shots
Honourable Mention: Alexander Gordin (SKA-1946, MHL) – After putting up lots of points in the first half of the season, Gordin tailed off a bit in the second half. However, he was much better in the postseason and had worked his way back up to the top line by the end of their first-round loss to Yaroslavl after having a very limited role to start. It’s still disappointing that he wasn’t able to move up from this level but, like Farrell, he had a lot of ice time which is something most prospects can’t say they had.
Reg. Season Stats: 1 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS, 17:15 ATOI
Playoff Stats: 5 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, +4 rating, 0 PIMS, 16:01 ATOI