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January wasn’t the greatest of months for the Habs or their AHL affiliate in
Hamilton.  Fortunately, things went better for many of their prospects,
several of which had their best months of the season.  The same can’t be
said for too many of the Bulldogs but a handful of players were able to make
positive contributions at least.  Here are our top prospects for the first
month of 2014.

Hamilton Bulldogs

1st Star: Nathan Beaulieu – Even though he only played in half
of Hamilton’s games before getting recalled to the Habs, he certainly made his
mark when he was in the Bulldogs’ lineup.  Over this stretch, he was
cutting down his defensive zone miscues which likely was a big factor in him
getting the nod to the big club.  Roster size limits may keep Beaulieu in
the minors until the trade deadline as others return to health but he probably
won’t see much more action with Hamilton this year.

Stats: 5 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 16

2nd Star: Dustin Tokarski – It’s hard to win games when you get
very little goal support but somehow Tokarski managed to post a winning record
in January.  All of his wins came when he allowed just one goal while two
of his losses came when only two shots beat him.  He did his job most

Stats: 7 GP, 4-3-0 record, 2.01 GAA, .925 SV%

3rd Star: Christian Thomas – Despite spending a good chunk of
the month on the third line, Thomas was able to be relatively productive while
earning himself a brief recall in the process.  After looking a bit
sluggish upon his return from injury, he has had more jump as of late and is
beginning to become the offensive threat we all expected when he was acquired.

Stats: 9 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 16 shots

Honourable Mention: Sven Andrighetto – He endured a notable
slump after a hot start but last month, Andrighetto showed signs of turning it
around and was much more involved in the play.  Sylvain Lefebvre let him
play through his struggles and kept him on the top line and if the end of
January and the beginning of February are any indication, his patience has paid

Stats: 10 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, even rating, 8 PIMS, 17

Other Prospects

1st Star: Brady Vail (Windsor, OHL) – For the third straight
month, Vail cracks (and rises on) our list.  He has taken his offensive
game to another level since trades forced him into more of a scoring role than
he has been accustomed to.  After being one of the first cuts in Montreal’s
camp (he was sent home before it even started) there were questions as to
whether or not he’d get an entry-level deal.  The question now appears to
be when he will get his deal.

Stats: 12 GP, 9 goals, 13 assists, 22 points, +4 rating, 4 PIMS

2nd Star: Tim Bozon (Kootenay, WHL) – He had a terrible start
to the year with Kamloops but is now living up to expectations on the
offensively gifted Ice.  If I had to raise a negative point, it would be
that he once again seems to be in a secondary role but at the same time, it’s
hard to argue with results.  As long as he’s producing, it’s hard to

Stats: 11 GP, 9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points, +9 rating, 4 PIMS

3rd Star: Zach Fucale (Halifax, QMJHL) – Although the World
Juniors didn’t end the way he or Team Canada would have hoped, Fucale wasn’t the
reason they failed to medal.  Upon his return to the QMJHL ranks, he picked
up where he left off when he left, by dominating.  His month was
highlighted by becoming the fastest goalie in QMJHL history to reach the 100 win
plateau.  As of this writing, Fucale is 40 away from tying the all-time
record and since he’s returning next season, he has a good shot at breaking it.

Stats: QMJHL: 7 GP, 6-1-0 record, 2.10 GAA, .909 SV%
World Juniors: 3 GP, 1-2-0 record, 2.36 GAA, .905 SV%

Honourable Mention: Magnus Nygren (Farjestad, SHL) – Nygren was
slowly brought back into the lineup when he left the Bulldogs but around the
midway point of the month, he started seeing major minutes (lots of games over
23, even one over 27 minutes).  Plus, his powerful shot has been a boon for
Farjestad’s powerplay while his all-around game has improved.  He has
improved on his play from last year, a season that earned him the Borje Salming

Stats: 10 GP, 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points, +3 rating, 0 PIMS