Laval made up ground in the playoff race over the second quarter of the season on the shoulders of several high-scoring forwards who land the top grades as our report cards wrap up with a look up front.
Players must have played in 5/19 games to receive a grade.
Jake Evans – A+: After being basically a complete no-show over the first quarter of the year, Evans took off over this stretch of games. Injuries have put him onto the top line and he has thrived with the opportunity. If (when?) Montreal starts to sell some of their veterans, Evans has certainly made a case to be the next one called up.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points, +4 rating, 8 PIMS, 50 shots
Yannick Veilleux – A+: Anyone who has followed Montreal’s farm team over the last few years is familiar with Veilleux. He’s a capable bottom six player that typically hasn’t provided a lot of offence. At least, until now. Seemingly out of nowhere, he has come up and made an immediate impact. Unfortunately, he’s the victim of a numbers game with the veteran rule but it would behoove Joel Bouchard to sit a veteran defender soon and see if Veilleux can pick up from where he left off.
2nd Quarter Stats: 7 GP, 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, +4 rating, 2 PIMS, 13 shots
Riley Barber – A: He was quiet with the Habs, no doubt about that. But this isn’t about his stint in Montreal. Since returning to the Rocket, he has been the top line scorer that they were counting on him to be when they signed him early in free agency. He and Evans worked well together though they were recently split up, likely to try to balance the attack a bit more.
2nd Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 49 shots
Charles Hudon – A: I’d like to see more than just the odd assist from Hudon as being a one-dimensional AHL scorer doesn’t bode well for his NHL future (in Montreal or elsewhere). Having said that, averaging nearly a goal per game in between stints with the Canadiens is a level of production that Laval will happily take over the second half of the season.
2nd Quarter Stats: 10 GP, 9 goals, 1 assist, 10 points, +1 rating, 6 PIMS, 35 shots
Ralph Cuddemi – A-: Don’t look now but Laval’s pro scouting (led by Larry Carriere) has quietly done a nice job of adding quality ECHL players that have made an impact. Cuddemi had never played in the AHL before this stretch but he chipped in with some key scoring and looked like he belonged. (And then he got injured…)
2nd Quarter Stats: 10 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +3 rating, 2 PIMS, 27 shots
Ryan Poehling – B+: After not doing a whole lot in his first stint with Laval, Poehling looked to have turned a corner after the Habs had sent him down while spending a good chunk of time on the left wing. Of course, they recalled him pretty quickly (arguably too quickly) but that’s not all that surprising given how Montreal has used its top prospects before.
2nd Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, even rating, 2 PIMS, 13 shots
Alexandre Alain – B: Alain spent a good chunk of time in a checking role and fared relatively well while still chipping in offensively. I’d like to see him make more of a jump on the defensive side of things as he’s not going to be a scorer at the NHL level if he makes it that far. Still, slow progression is indeed progression and that’s they need from some of these lower-end prospects.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points, +3 rating, 12 PIMS, 43 shots
Matthew Peca – B: While his production hasn’t been great this season, Peca was just starting to pick things up before he was recalled to Montreal (and was promptly injured). At this point, he’s playing out the rest of his time in the organization but a big second half from him would go a long way towards helping Laval hang around the playoff picture (and boost his odds of getting another contract as well).
2nd Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, -1 rating, 4 PIMS, 8 shots
Kevin Lynch – B-: Lynch has been everything that the Rocket could have wanted from a fourth line centre. He plays with an edge, is solid defensively, and chips in enough at the offensive end to not be a one-dimensional player. There’s nothing flashy about it but he continues to be effective.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, even rating, 12 PIMS, 29 shots
Lukas Vejdemo – C: While he didn’t get a chance to do much with Montreal, I was hoping his time there would have been a stepping stone towards a more aggressive player. That didn’t happen. Instead, he struggled when used on the wing to the point where they had to move him down the depth chart to put him back at centre.
2nd Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, -1 rating, 4 PIMS, 16 shots
Dale Weise – C: He saw some time in a top six role (bad idea) before getting recalled to the Habs. It’s telling that he has been more productive with Montreal than he was in this stretch with Laval. The version of Weise we see with the Habs is not the one that played with the Rocket.
2nd Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, -1 rating, 6 PIMS, 16 shots
Nikita Jevpalovs – C: After being somewhat of a Swiss army knife last season, Jevpalovs has settled into regular fourth line duty this season. He has been okay in that role but I’d like to see more from him considering what he was able to do a year ago.
2nd Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, +1 rating, 8 PIMS, 21 shots
Joe Cox – C-: As someone that has been more of a scorer at the ECHL level, Cox has struggled in adjusting to playing on a checking line. While it’s understandable that he isn’t in a scoring role when more players are healthy, he may be better off being scratched over being a checker.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +1 rating, 10 PIMS, 25 shots
Antoine Waked – D+: Three years in and Waked is a depth roster winger. Yes, his energy can make a difference from time to time but by now, asking him to be able to log a regular shift shouldn’t be too much of an ask. However, he hasn’t shown himself to be worth that opportunity yet.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, +3 rating, 20 PIMS, 10 shots
Michael Pezzetta – D: They’ve shuffled him back to centre at times but he’s best served on the wing. Pezzetta is what he is at this point, a physical fourth liner who doesn’t bring a whole lot else to the table. He is quickly gaining on Otto Leskinen for the penalty minute lead and that’s about the only number of note for him.
2nd Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -2 rating, 33 PIMS, 8 shots
Hayden Verbeek – D: Verbeek wasn’t doing a whole lot in the ECHL but injuries warranted his recall. However, he didn’t perform better than the ECHL tryout players and then he went and broke his thumb which will keep him out for another two months. His speed is great but the rest of his game, quite frankly, isn’t anywhere near good enough.
2nd Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 3 shots
N/A: Alex Belzile (1 GP), Laurent Dauphin (1 GP with Laval after being acquired), Michael McCarron (traded), F Garrett Mitchell (2 GP, released), William Pelletier (4 GP), James Phelan (2 GP, released), Phil Varone (1 GP)