Is Charles Hudon Ready for the Montreal Canadiens?

With training camp set to open and preseason around the corner, there are plenty of headlines that will emerge from Montreal regarding the Habs. General manager Marc Bergevin announced at the team’s recent golf tournament that a captain will be named by the end of training camp. There will be scrutiny regarding Max Pacioretty’s comeback from a knee injury; Zack Kassian and Alexander Semin will steal some of the spotlight as the key additions. However, one story that gets lost in the shuffle is how a certain prospect is looking to make a giant push to make the opening night roster.

That player is Charles Hudon.

Charles Hudon’s Chances

On the surface, it doesn’t look like there is any room for a young prospect to make the lineup right away especially when considering that NHL veteran Tomas Fleischmann was invited to training camp on a professional try out agreement and players like Brian Flynn and Michael Bournival are already on the outside looking in. However, at the recent rookie tournament in London, Ont., Hudon was terrific and clearly left impression on those watching.

Hudon showcased his excellent offensive ability that netted him 57 points in 78 games as an AHL rookie. His tenacity was on display as he made it clear he is pushing for an NHL spot right now. He isn’t the only forward prospect gunning for a spot as Sven Andrighetto and Christian Thomas are hot on Hudon’s heels but Hudon currently has the edge despite being the youngest of the trio.

Diamond in the rough

One thing that stands out about Hudon is his versatility. Drafted as a natural left winger, the AHL coaching staff tried Hudon at centre this past season where he did well. The centre ice position is pretty tight in Montreal especially with the announcement that Alex Galchenyuk will play centre this season. It is pretty much a given that if Galchenyuk is at centre, David Desharnais will be moved to the wing.

The Habs have a dearth of talent at left wing especially on the offensive side of things. Hudon seems like a natural fit to one day line up in the top six on the left side behind Pacioretty. Head coach Michel Therrien is hesitant to play younger players, but there are exceptions to the rule such as Brendan Gallagher and Jacob de la Rose with Galchenyuk still a work in progress on trust.

Concerns pundits had about Hudon making the jump to professional hockey have been quieted. He stayed relatively healthy last year and his skating improved. His smaller stature isn’t an issue especially with the NHL becoming more focused on skill rather than size and strength. His size was a major reason why he dropped in the draft back in 2012 but the decision to take him in the fifth round looks smart today.

Ready for the Show

Hudon’s defensive game has improved greatly which will go a long way in cementing himself as a threat in training camp. His offensive game would be welcome on a team that struggles to score most nights. Hudon doesn’t have the size of Michael McCarron or the lustre of Nikita Scherbak but he is the most NHL-ready forward among Montreal’s forward prospects and is showing why he deserves a shot to be a Montreal Canadien sooner rather than later.