Charles Hudon: Here to Stay with the Montreal Canadiens?

Charles Hudon

There is a growing consensus that Charles Hudon will make the Montreal Canadiens this year. Hudon was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. The attitude to the diminutive winger has been something of an enigma. While many thought he would break through last season, it was Jacob de la Rose and Michael McCarron who played 20 games each last season. Hudon got into just three NHL games, and scored two points.

Charles Hudon: Here to Stay with the Montreal Canadiens?

This is strange given Montreal’s well-known scoring difficulties. Hudon has been nearly a point per game player both in the QMJHL and AHL. His production last year means he is likely to see ice time on the Canadiens third line this year.  Training camp, and pre-season has seen Hudon playing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Artturi Lehkonen.

The trio was the best line on the ice in Sunday’s Red vs White game, with Hudon picking up three assists. Hudon also scored in last night’s pre-season contest with the Washington Capitals. He was dangerous throughout his pre-season debut, hitting the post as well as creating other scoring chances for himself and teammates.

Consistency

The knock on Hudon has been that he has not made the most of his chances when called up. The Vegas Golden Knights did not select him despite the fact that he was available in the expansion draft. A significant challenge has been Hudon’s consistency at both end’s of the ice.

Last year, it was also bad luck. Called up in November, Hudon played three games and contributed two assists, before suffering an injury in practice. He did not return and finished out the AHL season with 27 goals and 22 assists with the St. John’s IceCaps. While he has four points in just six NHL games, he had not scored a goal in the NHL. He changed that last night, albeit in pre-season action.

Will Hudon Spend a Full Season in Montreal?

While Hudon is likely to see action this year with the Canadiens, fighting for a full-time position in the line-up. In order to return to the AHL, Hudon would have to clear waivers this year. He signed a two-year contract over the summer, with the second year being a one-way contract, however waiver eligibility is determined by age and professional experience, not contract status. What his contract does mean, is that next season he will get paid his full NHL salary, no matter where he plays. While Hudon has to clear waivers to be sent down this year, he would be an expensive gamble with little NHL experience for another team.

In order to earn and maintain a spot in the line-up, Hudon has to produce alongside a rather deep pool of wingers. It is possible that his relative lack of NHL experience will show at some point during the season. The Habs have a history of impatience when it comes to their younger players. Will they be patient with Hudon if he hits a rookie slump? While it appears Hudon’s time has finally come, the season will be a big test for him. Habs fans eager to Hudon get a chance should get their wish this year. Only time will tell if he can capitalize on that chance, and become a full-time producer at the NHL level.

 

Main Photo:

MONTREAL, QC – NOVEMBER 19: Montreal Canadiens Left Wing Charles Hudon (54) during the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 19, 2016, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)