October was a pretty good month for the Habs and the same can be said for several of their prospects who are off to good starts to their seasons. Montreal’s top prospect performers are highlighted in our three stars.
1st Star: Joshua Roy – Oftentimes, it takes players coming out of major junior a bit of time to find their footing. Roy was not one of those. Instead, he was on fire in the only going, jumping out to the early lead in league scoring although he has since been surpassed. He has settled in nicely on the second line, allowing him to not be thrown to the wolves right away which is ideal from a development perspective. It’s also why, tempting as it might be, it’s not ideal to bring him up for a while.
Stats: 7 GP, 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 28 shots
2nd Star: Lias Andersson – While Laval let several of their top players go this summer (or, perhaps more accurately, they chose to go elsewhere), they brought a few others in to replace them. Andersson was the most notable given his draft pedigree but also because he was a top scoring threat in the minors last season. He has picked up where he left off. Interestingly, he has seen a lot of time on the wing despite being a natural centre. Personally, I think that gives him the leg up to be the next player brought up when injuries arise in Montreal.
Stats: 7 GP, 7 goals, 2 assists, 9 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 26 shots
3rd Star: Brandon Gignac – One of Laval’s unsung heroes last season, Gignac also picked up where he left off. He plays important defensive minutes which, coupled with his faceoff skill, is his calling card but he was also productive on the scoresheet. Two-way centres certainly are valuable in the NHL and Gignac is playing a similar role with the Rocket in the early going.
Stats: 7 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -2 rating, 14 PIMS, 21 shots
Honourable Mention: Lucas Condotta – For me, he’s often quickly forgotten but Condotta also is likely in the early recall mix. After being an early scratch for that brief period before injuries struck, he has spent some time in the top six which is a big step up from last year. His defensive ability and grit make him a viable promotion candidate when a spot on the fourth line opens up but if he can show an ability to produce consistently and carry over this early production, Condotta might force their hand fairly quickly.
1st Star: Cedrick Guindon (Owen Sound, OHL) – His post-draft season wasn’t particularly strong which results in some extra pressure since Montreal only has until June to sign him. Guindon’s start will certainly keep him on the radar at a minimum. He has been one of the more consistent players for the Attack out of the gate while spending most of his games at centre. If he can maintain this over the full season, he’ll have a shot at a contract and could get himself into the mix for an invitation to Canada’s World Junior camp (though making the team would be a long shot).
Stats: 10 GP, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points, +3 rating, 6 PIMS, 31 shots, 91/169 faceoffs
2nd Star: Jacob Fowler (Boston College, NCAA) – After finishing up his USHL time on a high note, Fowler has, as expected, become a true freshman starter. He had a couple of rougher starts toward the end of the month but allowed two or fewer goals in his other four starts. For his first year at a higher level, I think everyone has to be pleased with the early results. He has a good shot at playing at the World Juniors starting next month.
Stats: 6 GP, 5-1-0 record, 2.15 GAA, .919 SV%
3rd Star: Yevgeni Volokhin (Mamonty Yugry, MHL) – After posting some impressive numbers at the Russian junior level last season, Volokhin’s early numbers have been even better this year. It doesn’t help that his goalie partner – another NHL-drafted prospect – has put up even better numbers in the early going so Volokhin isn’t getting the overwhelming share of the workload. But he was drafted as a long-term project so not getting top minutes right away isn’t critical. Performance is key and Volokhin is certainly doing well.
Stats: 5 GP, 4-1-0 record, 1.57 GAA, .943 SV%
Honourable Mention 1: Luke Tuch (Boston University, NCAA) – Lane Hutson will be on this list several times this season so let’s highlight his teammate here. It’s a big year for Tuch who is in his final college year and needs to be signed by mid-August and after being more of a secondary piece in his first three years, he needs to be more of a key cog offensively. So far, so good on that front as he’s averaging over a point per game in the early going.
Stats: 6 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +4 rating, 0 PIMS, 12 shots
Honourable Mention 2: Oliver Kapanen (KalPa, SM-liiga) – It was an ugly start to Kapanen’s season in September, to put it lightly; it was cause for at least a bit of concern. What gets him this bonus mention here is that he was able to turn it around, becoming more assertive while chipping in with enough points to be the secondary contributor that they’re counting on him to be. It’s going to take a few months like this to show that he has found another gear but this was a nice step for Kapanen, one of Montreal’s more forgotten prospects.
Stats: 9 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, -6 rating, 2 PIMS, 32 shots, 17:07 ATOI