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The month of February saw most of Montreal’s prospects in action for the first time in this strange 2020-21 campaign.  Several players in Laval are off to good starts while some of their younger prospects continue to dominate.


1st Star: Lukas Vejdemo – To me, his start to the season was the biggest surprise.  It’s not as if he had shown much in the way of offensive flashes the last couple of seasons and he wasn’t dominating in Sweden’s second-tier league either so to see him come in and be a difference-maker at that end is notable.  Vejdemo is still a strong defensive player and his skating has improved considerably as well.  If the Habs need to bring a centre up at some point and use him (not just be on the taxi squad like Laurent Dauphin currently is), he’s the one that should be getting the call, not Ryan Poehling.

Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +6 rating, 4 PIMS, 19 shots

2nd Star: Otto Leskinen – Leskinen is another player who didn’t dominate back home but simply playing helped give him a boost coming into the season.  Playing in his own end was an issue last season and he has improved in his second go-round in the AHL which is critical as the rest of his skill-set is decent enough to make him a puck-moving option in the NHL.  There’s still work to be done in terms of his defensive improvement but Leskinen has likely moved up a notch or two on the recall pecking order compared to he was back in training camp.

Stats: 8 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +10 rating, 4 PIMS, 20 shots

3rd Star: Jesse Ylonen – Despite a quiet showing back home, Ylonen has been anything but quiet in his games with Laval.  The speed and puckhandling skills already flash above-average for the AHL level and his shot can also be a weapon most nights.  I get the sense that he could be a player who winds up being better as he plays with better players as he’s more of a complementary piece than someone who drives the play and I mean that in a good way.  With a Montreal team that’s trying to play at a fast pace, I think that would suit him just fine whenever he gets a chance (which probably won’t be this season).

Stats: 8 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 14 shots

Honourable Mention: Rafael Harvey-Pinard – His playing style hasn’t changed from junior and that’s good to see as his relentlessness will be his calling card if he’s going to make it to the NHL.  His willingness to drive the net and battle in the corners is where his points came from although I also think he’s being overused relative to his skill set.  While he shares the same number and stature as Brendan Gallagher, they are not comparables.  Gallagher has enough offensive talent to justify a top-six role but I don’t think Harvey-Pinard does.  Instead, he’s someone who would be at his best playing eight to ten minutes a night with reckless abandon.  I’m not saying he should be dropped to the fourth line with Laval but he shouldn’t be on the front line most nights either.

Stats: 8 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS, 10 shots

Other Prospects

1st Star: Cole Caufield (Wisconsin, NCAA) – Moving prospects along quickly is something fans want to see more and more of with the NHL getting younger and quicker each year.  I’m a bit older-fashioned in that I want to see someone really dominate a level before moving up.  Mission accomplished for Caufield and the college level.  He’s scoring at an absurd rate for a sophomore and even more impressive for me is that his offensive improvement has come at the same time as his effort defensively has also improved.  Other than putting together a strong finish, there isn’t anything left for him to do at this level.

Stats: 8 GP, 8 goals, 6 assists, 14 points, +9 rating, 0 PIMS, 31 shots

2nd Star: Sean Farrell (Chicago, USHL) – There isn’t much left to say about Farrell that I haven’t already written in his monthly appearance in these rankings.  He’s still scoring at a crazy pace and to his credit, he managed to break the league record for consecutive games with a point with 24 before immediately being held off the scoresheet for two straight.  He tried to make up for that with 13 points in five games after that, giving him a shot at averaging two points per game for the season.  I’d like to see him shoot a bit more but with how productive he’s been, even that’s just nitpicking.

Stats: 10 GP, 4 goals, 17 assists, 21 points, +5 rating, 2 PIMS, 23 shots

3rd Star: Jordan Harris (Northeastern, NCAA) – Harris isn’t as flashy offensively as some of Montreal’s other defence prospects which still has him under the radar but I think he’s getting close to Caufield’s situation where there isn’t much left to prove in college.  He’s getting all the ice time he can handle (and then some) and the extra workload hasn’t hindered him much.  Offensively, he’s shown an improved ability to quarterback a power play and he’s still a high-end skater and puck-mover.  The Habs have a decision to make as to whether or not to burn a year of Harris’ entry-level deal this season (it sounds like they want to sign him) and if they do, I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes to the taxi squad and not Laval as his skill set checks a lot of boxes for what Montreal’s back end is missing.

Stats: 8 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS, 10 shots

Honourable Mention: Charles Hudon (Lausanne, NLA) – Is he really a prospect?  No, but if I can put non-prospects in Laval’s section, I can mention Hudon here too.  He finally got back into the lineup and found his way back to the top line quite quickly and made an immediate impact.  Does it really do anything for his future NHL prospects?  Not really; he’s not getting a one-way NHL deal this summer as the league has shown they don’t view him as an NHL-calibre player (otherwise he’d have been claimed off waivers or traded for this fall when he was available basically for free).  But despite that, he had a strong month and has done enough to earn a more lucrative deal in Switzerland for next year if he wants to stay out there.

Stats: 9 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +6 rating, 2 PIMS, 17:53 ATOI