December was a tough month not just for the Habs but most of their prospects as many only played a handful of games. Nevertheless, a few stood out amongst the rest to earn a spot in the prospect three stars.
1st Star: Rafael Harvey-Pinard – After an underwhelming start to his season, Harvey-Pinard took advantage of the bigger role created by some injury recalls and made the most of it, leading the team in scoring for the month. More notably, the energy that he typically plays with when he’s lower in the lineup didn’t go away and the production coupled with that made him among the first group of recalls when Montreal’s COVID issues began. More time is needed in Laval in a scoring role to improve that part of his game in terms of producing consistently but it was good to see on a short-term look at least.
Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, +6 rating, 16 shots, 6 PIMS
2nd Star: Brandon Gignac – For someone that couldn’t crack the lineup at the beginning of the season, Gignac is going to make it hard for J-F Houle to take him out. Again, he took full advantage of the extra ice time and was much more productive than expected while playing a good two-way game. Good teams need some of their role players to step up and he did exactly that.
Stats: 7 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +5 rating, 14 shots, 2 PIMS
3rd Star: Alex Belzile – It’s hard for me to sit here and say that his recall actually hurt him – I’m sure he doesn’t mind NHL money over AHL pay – but Belzile was just starting to rediscover some offensive consistency and had a nice month before his recall. There’s a transition period between going from a role player whose job is simply to not get scored on to being a go-to scorer and he struggled with that after being sent down. Now, it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s another adjustment period once he clears waivers and returns to the Rocket.
Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +1 rating, 16 shots, 4 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Kevin Roy – It took a while – longer than many expected – but Roy was finally starting to make a consistent mark offensively before things got shut down. After leading Arizona’s affiliate in scoring last season, Roy has largely been deployed in a depth role this year which isn’t a good fit for him but the thinned-out roster gave him a chance to play higher up and he helped his cause towards staying there as others return.
Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +5 rating, 12 shots, 4 PIMS
1st Star: William Trudeau (Charlottetown, QMJHL) – After a strong showing offensively last season, Trudeau was a popular pick for someone that could really bust out this season. That didn’t happen over the first couple of months but he put together a very strong December, recording points in all but two games and showing some consistency in the process. It has only been a few months since he was picked but he already projects as one of those players who will be on the fringes of whether or not he signs so he’ll have a lot riding on the second half once it gets underway.
Stats: 9 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, +5 rating, 26 shots, 10 PIMS
2nd Star: Brett Stapley (Denver, NCAA) – It had been a bit of an underwhelming season for Stapley in the early going. For someone in his senior year, he hadn’t exactly been dominating. That changed in December, albeit against weaker competition which is an important qualifier. It’s not his fault that that’s who their opponents were and good for him for taking advantage as that gets him a spot here. But from a prospect perspective, he needs more months like this against better opponents to help himself earn a contract.
Stats: 5 GP, 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points, +4 rating, 4 PIMS
3rd Star: Riley Kidney (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) – With Hendrix Lapierre off at Canada’s camp for part of the month, Kidney reclaimed the top spot down the middle and he made the most of it. One element I particularly have liked from him this season is the shot volume. Centres can get a little too pass-happy at times (Stapley is particularly guilty of that) so I’ve been pleased that Kidney hasn’t hesitated to pull the trigger. Being a dual-threat option never hurts.
Stats: 7 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, +6 rating, 27 shots, 12 PIMS, 54.7% faceoffs
Honourable Mention: Joshua Roy (Sherbrooke, QMJHL) – He’s not necessarily going to fondly remember December since he was cut from Canada’s World Junior camp but he had a pretty good showing there and certainly got himself on the radar for next year (or perhaps this summer if the current tournament resumes and injuries force some roster changes). Back with the Phoenix, he just kept on scoring. I can only write it so many ways, same old, same old (and that’s a high compliment to pay a prospect when it comes to positive production).
Stats: 6 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +5 rating, 32 shots, 0 PIMS