Over the last four days at the Montreal Canadiens rookie development camp, Charles Hudon has turned many heads with his play. While many eyes are watching this year’s 1st round pick Mikhail Sergachev having a great camp. Quebec native Hudon has not been forgotten, with his dominating play at the camp. While dominating at a development camp isn’t something to brag about since most of these guys will never be NHLers, Hudon has shown that he can have success at the pro level, which makes this all that more expected.
Throughout the last two seasons, the Canadiens 5th round pick in 2012 has become a star with the Hamilton Bulldogs/ St. John’s IceCaps. He consistently leads the IceCaps forwards in offensive production as well as being able to handle the workload in his own end. Last season, Hudon lead the IceCaps in goals with 28. The year before he put up 57 points in 75 games as an AHL rookie. He has nothing left that he needs to learn in the AHL and the two-way game that he can bring straight to the NHL.
Charles Hudon is NHL-Ready
Prior to his professional career, Hudon shone at the international level in the Canada-Russia Challenge. In the four-game series in 2012 against the Russians, he was arguably the best Canadian forward in his role as a shutdown forward, as well as posting a respectable one goal and two assists for the Canadians. This was the first time he was considered a fifth-round steal. Brendan Ross, a writer for The Hockey Writers, gave Hudon an A+ for his performance in the series. He also had this to say about Hudon:
“The most surprising player by far for Team Canada was Montreal Canadiens’ 5th round selection Charles Hudon. His draft pedigree was alarming considering I had him ranked as a late 2nd/early 3rd round player but it indicated that Hudon struggled in his draft season after failing to meet the lofty expectations set after his QMJHL rookie of the year campaign.” via the Montreal Gazette.
Afterwards, Hudon continued to impress in the QJMHL, where he posted 30 goals and 71 points in 56 games while captaining the Chicoutimi Sagueneens during the 2012-13 season. Then he had a final junior season where he scored 26 goals and 76 points in 57 games which he split between the Sagueneens and Baie-Comeau Drakkar, where he played with fellow Habs prospect Jeremy Gregoire.
Despite the fact that he has been one of the Canadiens most consistent prospects in terms of offensive he has yet to get a legitimate chance to produce in the NHL. Over the past two seasons in which Hudon played pro hockey he has only suited up in three NHL games for the Canadiens. In those three games, he has put up two assists while only playing 4th line minutes. If Hudon wants to show his true worth to the big club they need to be able to trust him a bigger role than on the 4th line.
In a season where the Canadiens had lots of injury troubles, many prospects got to show their worth to the big club. But, Hudon didn’t get much of a chance to showcase his 2-way talents. It may be more intriguing for fans to watch a big player like 6’6 Mike McCarron but he is not as close to being NHL ready compared to Hudon.
However, McCarron was given 20 NHL games as opposed to Hudon’s three games last season. Many Habs fans complained about McCarron’s usage in the 20 games he played; he got some time in the top-nine, contrary to Hudon, who did not get any.
Why Hasn’t Hudon Gotten His Chance Yet?
While Hudon has the skill of an NHLer, he is on the small side of NHLers. With the Canadiens already possessing many players 5’10 and under the team has been looking to get bigger. Therefore, players such Hudon have had a harder time getting into the big club’s lineup. In order for Hudon to crack the lineup, he will need to pass two players who graduated to the NHL last season, Daniel Carr and Sven Andrighetto, on the depth chart. It will be hard but it’s not impossible for Hudon to accomplish this feat. However, his must be given a chance because he could be the best Quebecois player the team has had in years.
Why Hudon Should Get His Chance to Impress
Despite the size issue, Hudon possesses everything that a player needs to play in the NHL. He has great hands, speed, vision and a decent shot that would really help the goal hungry Canadiens for years to come in a secondary role. On a defensive level, he is able to help his team shut down the opposing players making him a potential penalty kill specialist in the near future. If anything, he is a type of player that Head Coach Michel Therrien will enjoy having in the lineup. He is a hard worker who has the tools to be successful in Therrien’s system – if given a chance.
General Manager Marc Bergevin says he likes to give rookies a chance to make the Canadiens straight out of camp. With this philosophy, there is no doubt that Hudon will be followed closely in training camp in September. Bergevin could also sign a player to a PTO in order to create more competition for a roster spot. Last year, he did just that when brought Tomas Fleischmann to training camp.
If they choose not to keep Hudon in the NHL next season, he could find himself traded. This would have to be a trade in order to get immediate help for the team’s needs and also to give Hudon an NHL spot somewhere. Hudon will definitely be a player to watch in training camp in the fall.