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December was an up-and-down month for the Habs and the same can be said for many of their prospects.  However, there were some quality performances from some of them, earning them a spot in our monthly three stars.


1st Star: Brandon Gignac – While technically not a prospect, he was once again Laval’s best performer last month.  He has taken the top centre role and run with it while still playing his typically energetic game.  On merit, he should have had an opportunity with Montreal by now.  The issue is that he’d have to clear waivers to get back to Laval if he signed an NHL contract.  Even if they don’t sign him for this year, one has to think Gignac will get an NHL deal from someone next summer.  He’s earned it.

Stats: 12 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, -1 rating, 25 shots, 8 PIMS

2nd Star: Arber Xhekaj – The fact he found himself in Laval certainly came as a surprise to him but after a rough couple of games to start (understandable after being off for a few weeks with injury), he adapted quite nicely to a much bigger role.  He seems a lot more confident than he was in Montreal as he’s thriving more than surviving.  Offensively, he made the most of seeing some power play time while defensively, he’s progressing on zone entry suppression, one of the areas I suspect they sent him down to work on.

Stats: 10 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, even rating, 14 shots, 4 PIMS

3rd Star: Jakub Dobes – Frankly, the start to his season couldn’t have been much worse than it was.  But over the past month, Dobes put together his best stretch of the year, his first start notwithstanding.  He managed to string together several consecutive quality starts to help start Laval’s turnaround in the standings.  He still gets himself into trouble sometimes by being overaggressive but I think that’s just going to be normal for him; he’s not going to be a true ‘technical’ goaltender.

Stats: 8 GP, 5-1-1 record, 2.53 GAA, .919 SV%

Honourable Mention: Logan Mailloux – There were a few different options for this pick but I’ll highlight Mailloux who has fit in quite well with Xhekaj.  His defensive miscues were more limited last month and offensively, he has already shown himself to be an above-average player on that front.  It’s an odd pairing with both having some defensive issues but they’re bringing out the best in each other right now, resulting in a solid month for Mailloux.

Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, -1 rating, 13 shots, 10 PIMS

Other Prospects

1st Star: Filip Mesar (Kitchener, OHL) – This was a bit of an odd month for Mesar simply because he split it between two different teams, the Rangers and Slovakia because of the World Juniors.  He left Kitchener on a nice little hot streak and then was one of Slovakia’s top scorers in the first round of the WJCs, helping lead them to the second seed (though they ultimately fell earlier this month to Finland).  After a rough first season in major junior, Mesar has certainly found his footing and become the dominant forward he should be in his second year after being drafted.

Stats: (KIT) – 5 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -2 rating, 20 shots, 2 PIMS
(Slovakia) – 4 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, +3 rating, 8 shots, 0 PIMS

2nd Star: Cedrick Guindon (Owen Sound, OHL) – While he wasn’t able to earn a training camp with Canada for the World Juniors, that’s about the only blemish for the month.  Guindon was steady throughout the month for the Attack despite their struggles in the standings and continued to be an impact centre.  He is playing for a contract right now – he has to sign by June 1st – and he is certainly making a compelling case to be signed even with the contract crunch on the horizon.

Stats: Stats: 10 GP, 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points, -6 rating, 34 shots, 4 PIMS, 59.5% faceoffs

3rd Star: Lane Hutson (Boston University, NCAA) – Hutson finished up his college portion of 2023 with a bang before heading to Team USA for the World Juniors.  He got off to a slower start to the tournament which dropped him here but of course, he finished with a bang.  He’s proving that he’s ready for a bigger challenge, one that will come once his college season comes to an end.

Stats: (BU) – 2 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, +1 rating, 2 PIMS
(Slovakia) – 4 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, +6 rating, 9 shots, 2 PIMS

Honourable Mention: Bogdan Konyushkov (Torpedo, KHL) – After playing big minutes early on, it seemed like his minutes were getting managed around the midpoint of their season.  Well, that has come to an end as Konyushkov blew past the 20-minute mark in each of his games while also playing a big role for Russia at the Channel One Cup.  It’s going to take a while before he can sign but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Stats: (KHL) – 8 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +5 rating, 4 PIMS, 24:47 ATOI
(Channel One Cup) – 3 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +3 rating, 0 PIMS