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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
In the past couple of weeks, we've taken a look at how Montreal's prospects playing in European leagues and the CHL have fared so far this season. Today, the focus turns to the NCAA where seven Hab hopefuls are playing. While several players are having mediocre to decent years, there are a few who have had very strong starts to their respective campaigns.
Stats are as of games played through November 5th.
D Mac Bennett, Michigan: The reigning CCHA Defenceman of the Week is off to a terrific start to his junior year. Not only does Bennett lead his team in points by a defenceman, he also happens to lead the entire CCHA conference in points by a blueliner as well. With Greg Pateryn graduating and Jon Merrill injured, Bennett, named an alternate captain of the Wolverines, has had to take on the role of a top pairing defenceman and he has thrived with the extra responsibility. I've been hyping up Bennett's potential for a few years now but if he can keep this pace up throughout the year, he won't be an underrated prospect much longer.
Season Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists (team leader), 9 points, 2 PIMS, +8 rating (team leader), 19 shots, 13 blocks (team leader)
F Michael Cichy, Western Michigan: I have to admit, I more or less had written off Cichy heading into this year. He never really got things going at North Dakota and after sitting out an entire year after transferring, I didn't think he'd bring much to the table for the Broncos. It's early but so far he's proving me and any other doubters wrong as he is the team leader in scoring already and playing on the top line. Given his situation heading into the year, it's hard to ask for much more.
Season Stats: 6 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, 4 PIMS, even rating, 18 shots, 1 block
F Dustin Walsh, Dartmouth: The most exciting news of his season came last week when he was finally cleared to play. Walsh, the lone NHL draftee on his team, has only played in a pair of games as he works his way back into game shape. He is expected to be a front line player for the Big Green this year in his senior season as long as he can stay healthy. The pressure is on for Walsh to have a big season as he will be vying for a contract with the Habs.
Season Stats: 2 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, 0 PIMS
D Colin Sullivan, Boston College: On a deep team like the Eagles are, it's hard to expect much from the Habs' 7th rounder in 2011. Sullivan, a freshman, is sixth on the depth chart and is seeing very limited minutes in the early stages of the season. On the plus side, he has played in every game which is a start at least. His development curve is going to be quite slow (I suspect he will require the full five years after being drafted to be pro ready) so I wouldn't expect much from him this year.
Season Stats: 7 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 8 PIMS, 1 shot
D Josiah Didier, Denver: Didier has been decent in the early goings of his sophomore season but certainly could be doing better. The Pioneers are a strong team, particularly on the blueline as they have some quality yet unheralded players which has limited Didier's playing time. He's a long-term project so slow progress is still progress but he's someone I'm hoping to see pick his play up as the season progresses.
Season Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 8 PIMS, +2 rating, 3 shots
F Danny Kristo, North Dakota: The season couldn't have gotten off to any worse of a start after being suspended on two separate occasions before the season even started. Having sat those games out, Kristo is making up for lost time. As expected, he is a key cog for the Fighting Sioux, playing on the top line and the powerplay. His playmaking skills have shone early on as he already has taken over the team lead in that regard. Coming into the year, Kristo was expected to dominate. So far, so good.
Season Stats: 4 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, 2 PIMS, +1 rating, 13 shots, 3 blocks
F Mark MacMillan, North Dakota: MacMillan has been moved around in the early stages of the year, sometimes playing centre, other times on the wing. However, he has been in the top six regardless of what position he's playing on any given night. Given the talent on the top line, he's likely going to be a second liner for most of the year which should give him a chance to work on his game without facing opponents' top checkers on a nightly basis. He's still not particularly a strong player physically but he has come a long way from when he first joined the NCAA last year.
Season Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 2 PIMS, even rating, 14 shots, 4 blocks, 31/59 faceoffs (52.5%)
- Habs' Overseas Prospects Update posted by B. La Rose
- Habs' CHL Prospects Update posted by B. La Rose