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With several forwards either up with the Habs or underachieving, some of Laval’s depth players were called on to step up.  A few of them were able to do so, earning them high grades for the third quarter.

Players must have played in 5/19 games to receive a grade.

Charles Hudon – A-: While I still have serious doubts about his ability to be a productive NHL player, Hudon is undoubtedly a very productive AHL sniper.  He was justifiably a fixture on Laval’s top line until his post-deadline emergency recall to the Habs.  As he wasn’t papered down to the Rocket before the roster freeze during this pandemic, he’ll need to be waived to go back down if play resumes as more than 30 days will have elapsed since his recall.

Stats: 19 GP, 9 goals, 5 assists, 14 points, -1 rating, 33 PIMS, 66 shots

Nikita Jevpalovs – A-: Jevpalovs has some stretches where he goes completely invisible offensively and others where he performs like a capable top-six winger.  This stretch of games put him in the latter category.  He spent a lot of time up in the lineup due to their long list of injuries and recalls and to his credit, he made the most of it.  If play resumes, he should be back on the fourth line if everyone’s healthy but his versatility makes him a useful piece regardless of what line he’s on.

Stats: 15 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, even rating, 6 PIMS, 20 shots

Kevin Lynch – B+: Like Jevpalovs, he spent a lot of time up in the lineup due to injuries including a surprisingly long stint on the front line that I still think wasn’t a particularly good idea.  But give Lynch credit for playing well enough offensively to hold his own in that role.  At the very least, he brought a quality defensive presence to a number one unit that wasn’t exactly running with defensively sound players.

Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points, even rating, 16 PIMS, 22 shots

Jake Evans – B+: There isn’t much more to ask for.  He played well enough to get recalled, didn’t pout when he was sent back down, and earned himself another look after the trade deadline.  Evans was playing well at both ends and certainly had put his early season struggles behind him.  The Habs sent him down before the roster freeze so if play resumes and the Habs are fully healthy, he might actually get back into the lineup for the Rocket this season.

Stats: 13 GP, 6 goals, 5 assists, 11 points, even rating, 8 PIMS, 34 shots

Jesperi Kotkaniemi – B+: It was a bit of a mixed bag for Kotkaniemi in his first AHL stint but there was more good than bad.  Let’s get the bad out of the way first.  He seemed to struggle with the pace of play at times and seven minor penalties is a lot for 11 games.  But averaging an assist per game while being the youngest player in the league is still pretty good and he certainly didn’t have much trouble adapting to a much bigger role with the Habs.  Before the splenic injury, he was shaping up to be a key part of their playoff push.

Stats: 11 GP, 0 goals, 11 assists, 11 points, -1 rating, 14 PIMS, 24 shots

Laurent Dauphin – B: It’s hard to look back at the Dauphin that started out with Laval and think he’s the same person now.  Dauphin was much more assertive and took advantage of the extra playing time to show that he can still be a productive player.  He was trending towards a recall with the Habs before everything shut down.

Stats: 19 GP, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, even rating, 10 PIMS, 52 shots

Yannick Veilleux – B: Considering he was a midseason PTO addition, he fared pretty well (and his big run before the stoppage wasn’t captured here as it well past the cut-off mark).  He showed enough for Laval to convert him to a one-way deal for the rest of the season and it’s reasonable to think he could be on the radar for next season as well although his veteran status may hurt him a bit.

Stats: 16 GP, 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points, -2 rating, 19 PIMS, 24 shots

Alexandre Alain – B-: Alain has been one of Laval’s better two-way players in his two years with the team but there are times where his line gets eaten up defensively and this stretch was one of them.  He’s far from the lone culprit (the main one appears later) but when his line is like that, Alain’s effectiveness goes down a lot.  On the flip side, 10 points in that stretch at least helped offset some of what that line gave away.

Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, -8 rating, 8 PIMS, 37 shots

Joe Cox – C+: Cox wasn’t at his best when he came back but considering he was working his way back from injury, that’s not entirely surprising.  He spent some time on that checking line with Alain which struggled but he also played a bit better when he was higher in the lineup.  All in all, not a bad limited stretch of games.

Stats: 7 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, +1 rating, 0 PIMS, 4 shots

Jake Lucchini – C: He scored some clutch goals in their last few games but those came past this particular cut-off.  Lucchini’s first few games with Laval saw him primarily in a limited role and to be honest, he didn’t do a whole lot.  But with limited minutes on a new team, expecting him to do much wasn’t exactly realistic.

Stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 4 shots

Lukas Vejdemo – D+: For someone that had a stint with the Habs (where he didn’t look out of place on the fourth line), Vejdemo’s play back in Laval left a lot to be desired.  He’s never going to be a big scorer but at this stage of his development, he should be able to provide more at the offensive end than he did in this stretch.

Stats: 15 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -6 rating, 8 PIMS, 25 shots

Ryan Poehling – D: After not producing much with the Habs, it made sense for Poehling to go down to Laval, play more minutes, and get back on track.  He was a fixture in the top six but the offence simply wasn’t there.  To be honest, his performance was poor enough that he should have been dropped down the lineup.  If AHL games do resume, this pause may wind up being huge for Poehling as simply getting away from hockey for a bit may actually do wonders for him.

Stats: 10 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, even rating, 0 PIMS, 11 shots

Antoine Waked – D: It’s the same line now as it was a couple of years ago.  When Waked is in the lineup, he is basically a non-factor most nights and this was the case when he played during this stretch.  Fortunately, his contract is up this summer and there’s no possible justification for qualifying him.

Stats: 9 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, even rating, 10 PIMS, 5 shots

Michael Pezzetta – D: Despite the injuries, he couldn’t move up in the lineup and even couldn’t get in some nights.  That tells you just about everything right there.  Pezzetta is a fourth line filler and with another year left on his contract, that might come back to bite them with who else needs contracts.

Stats: 14 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, even rating, 19 PIMS, 20 shots

N/A: Riley Barber (traded), Joseph Blandisi (1 GP), Ralph Cuddemi (1 GP), Aaron Luchuk (2 GP), Matthew Peca (traded), Phil Varone (traded)

3rd Quarter Grades – Goalies and Defencemen