Charles Hudon was a great find for the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The Quebec native had a very successful junior career playing in the QMJHL, before being drafted by the Canadiens. At 5’10, Hudon wasn’t necessarily expected to excel in his first couple of years playing pro, as it usually takes smaller players longer to adapt in such circumstances. Despite his size, Hudon started his professional career off strong, scoring 19 goals and 38 assists for 57 points in 75 games.
The Canadiens picking an undersized forward in the fifth round sounds familiar – since the Habs selected Brendan Gallagher, who is now one of their most valuable players, in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Though Hudon and Gallagher have similar back stories when it comes to the NHL draft, they have very different playing styles. Gallagher’s style is based on hard work and crashing the net, while Hudon plays more of a skilled game. Like Gallagher, though, Hudon has completely exceeded expectations thus far in his pro career. This season, Hudon has 28 points through 38 games with the Habs’ AHL affiliate, St. John’s IceCaps. Hudon was briefly called up to the Canadiens this season, and with the big club, he had two assists in two games played.
What to Expect from Charles Hudon:
At 21-years-old, Hudon is still developing both his skills, and his strength on the ice. He is thriving in the Canadiens’ farm system, and he could earn himself a permanent spot with the Habs as early as next season. The issue with Canadiens prospects like Hudon, is that they are fit to play in scoring roles. It’s never easy to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL, especially for someone getting thrown into a top-six role. Players like Hudon simply wouldn’t be as effective in bottom-six roles. When Hudon is ready to make the jump to the NHL, he should be inserted into a scoring role, as this is where he would have the most success.
The Canadiens are in need of a top-six winger to compliment their current roster. Despite the team needs, team management doesn’t seem to feel that prospects like Hudon, or fellow prospect, Sven Andrighetto are ready to step into the full-time role as of now. Next season, it is likely AHL scorers like Hudon, Andrighetto, and even Mike McCarron battle for a roster spot in the NHL.
Whenever Charles Hudon earns a permanent spot in the NHL, Habs fans can expect to see a quick, skilled player who is clever and creative in the offensive zone. Habs fans got a little preview of Hudon’s play during his short call-up stint with the team early in December. Throughout his hockey career, Hudon has racked up lots of assists. This shows his true playmaking ability, which will be highly valuable to a Canadiens team that has had trouble creating offence in the recent past.
No matter what comes of Charles Hudon, Canadiens fans and management still got quite the steal, as he was selected so late in the draft. Hudon’s numbers were solid throughout his junior career, which may lead some people to wonder why he wasn’t drafted earlier. The easiest assumption is that his size was his detriment. If anyone, the Montreal Canadiens prove that size isn’t the biggest factor of success in today’s speedy NHL, with players like Brendan Gallagher being so successful. Hudon could learn a thing or two from Gallagher, as he looks to prove to Canadiens’ management that he is NHL ready.
The Canadiens have run into scoring troubles recently, while GM Marc Bergevin has reiterated that he doesn’t want to sacrifice his future in order to bring in a short-term solution. Having players like Hudon in the system could make the general manager more at ease about the team’s scoring woes, as Hudon, along with the other young, skilled talent in the Canadiens’ system could prove to be the long-term answer to their current issues.
Hudon’s readiness for the NHL will give GM Bergevin a tough decision at the end of the season. Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann are two established, bottom-six wingers – who will be UFA’s on July 1st. Bergevin will have to decide whether he wants to offer contracts to these experienced NHL’ers, or whether he’d rather let younger scorers from the AHL take their spots. With the way that things have gone for Hudon, Andrighetto, and McCarron – among others, the right move may be to let at least one of these two pending UFA’s walk, and make room for younger talent.
Check out Hudon’s heartwarming tweet before playing his first career NHL game: