While the month of January wasn’t a successful one for the Habs, the same can’t be said for their prospects as several of them had standout performances, earning themselves a spot in our Three Stars.
1st Star: Rem Pitlick – I don’t think there was much else he could have done down there. Pitlick averaged nearly two points per game in the first half of the month and cut down on the bad penalties as well which is something that hurt him with the Habs earlier in the year. Between Montreal’s injuries, his waiver situation, and the trade deadline being a month away, I think there’s a good chance this is the last time you’ll see Pitlick here as I expect him to be up with the Habs the rest of the way.
Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points, +4 rating, 21 shots, 4 PIMS
2nd Star: Joel Teasdale – If you’ve followed Teasdale’s career to this point, you have to be thrilled to see him have a month like this. After a slow start to the year, he has gradually improved and then things took off last month. Is he overachieving? Probably to an extent but he’s finding a way to be productive even without seeing heavy minutes consistently. There are two things that he needs to show to stay in the prospect picture – better skating and more production. The first one is a work in progress but the second was definitely there in January.
Stats: 12 GP, 8 goals, 5 assists, 13 points, +1 rating, 34 shots, 8 PIMS
3rd Star: Alex Belzile – While he’s not really a true prospect, Belzile certainly earned a spot on this list with his performance last month. He spent most of his time at centre (not his natural position) and didn’t miss a beat as he anchored what wound up being a pretty productive top line despite the players they were missing. While his play with the Habs isn’t considered here, he more than held his own late in the month with them as well.
Stats: 8 GP, 8 goals, 4 assists, 12 points, +4 rating, 37 shots, 2 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Lucas Condotta – Anthony Richard easily could have been picked here but I’d rather highlight Condotta who is just in his first full professional campaign. He’s a bit old for a prospect (he’s already 25) but he has come a long way compared to when he made his debut down the stretch last season. He’s not going to be a consistent offensive contributor but he did chip in with six goals last month while often splitting time between the second and third lines. More performances like this could help earn him a qualifying offer this offseason.
Stats: 12 GP, 6 goals, 2 assists, 8 points, -1 rating, 19 shots, 9 PIMS
1st Star: Riley Kidney (Gatineau, QMJHL) – Gatineau paid a fairly sizable price to acquire Kidney before the QMJHL trade deadline and he has rewarded them thus far as his production has simply taken off. Averaging two points per game is quite impressive; he was closer to three points per contest following the swap. While I’m sure he’d have preferred to be suiting up at the World Juniors (or even getting the late recall like Owen Beck did), this was pretty much the next best thing.
Stats: 8 GP, 6 goals, 16 assists, 22 points, +14 rating, 23 shots, 2 PIMS, 114/255 faceoffs
2nd Star: Sean Farrell (Harvard, NCAA) – It’s hard to peg where expectations should be for Farrell this season points-wise as he already had a pretty productive college year. Farrell held serve in the first half of the season but took a bit of a step forward in January offensively, becoming one of the top-scoring players in the top division. Is that meeting or exceeding expectations? I’m still not sure of that but I’m sure that he had a strong month.
Stats: 9 GP, 5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, 3+ rating, 6 PIMS
3rd Star: Joshua Roy (Team Canada/Sherbrooke, QMJHL) – The month got off to a nice start for Roy who had a four-point effort in the semis at the World Juniors before setting up the game-winner in the Gold Medal game. Then he went back to Sherbrooke and didn’t miss a beat (something that can’t be said for all of Montreal’s prospects that were there). While we don’t see him doing this in the QMJHL, I also want to highlight his penalty killing at the World Juniors – a small sample size, yes, but if he actually has that element in his game, his value as a prospect goes up a fair bit.
Stats: WJC: 3 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, +4 rating, 8 shots, 0 PIMS
QMJHL: 8 GP, 7 goals, 7 assists, 14 points, +11 rating, 33 shots, 4 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Lane Hutson (Team USA/Boston University, NCAA) – Hutson didn’t dominate at the World Juniors but people shouldn’t have been expecting him to this year. He played fine at that level against top-end competition and then went back to college and went right back to dominating. The points are nice but I’m happy with some of the improvements he has shown in his own end as he’s becoming a bit more reliable there. That won’t be his calling card in the NHL but the better he is defensively, the more opportunities he’s going to have to play offensively.
Stats: WJC: 3 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, even rating, 5 shots, 0 PIMS
NCAA: 8 GP, 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, +12 rating, 6 PIMS