Around this time last year, I wrote an article discussing Charles Hudon’s chances of making the Montreal Canadiens. He ultimately didn’t make the team in 2015 but that isn’t the interesting part. As the injuries piled up in Montreal, prospects were being called up from the AHL at a rapid rate but one name the Habs kept passing over was Hudon’s. He played only three games in the NHL this year (where he had two assists) despite being one of St. John’s best players.
With 57 points in 75 games during his rookie year and 53 points in 67 games last year, Hudon has been a consistent offensive producer for the St. John’s IceCaps. It is quite the accomplishment for Hudon considering how much Montreal’s farm team has struggled in recent years and the fact that Hudon was a fifth round pick and has managed to succeed in professional hockey.
Considering this, why is it that the Habs continually call up players who aren’t performing as well as Hudon? Hudon isn’t big at 5’10” but considering the presence of Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais, Paul Byron and Sven Andrighetto on the NHL roster, size usually doesn’t dictate who is on the team. In terms of having a defensive game, Hudon isn’t perfect in that regard, but he has improved that part of his game since turning pro and it is a common issue among many offensively minded players, especially young ones.
The most likely reason is Montreal wants players who play low-risk games and bring grit to the lineup. It explains why Jacob De la Rose and Michael McCarron were called up instead. Hudon has been superior to De la Rose in many ways but management seems to favour him when it comes to call-ups. In the case of McCarron, he was having a pretty good rookie year in the AHL and his gritty physical game is exactly what the Habs are looking for. However, it was clear on many occasions that McCarron simply wasn’t ready for the NHL.
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) May 9, 2016
Hudon is going into the last year of his entry-level deal and he certainly deserves a shot at some point in the season to show management he could be in the team’s future plans. It’s a head scratcher that de la Rose and McCarron got 22 and 20 games respectively in Montreal last season while Hudon only got three with minimal ice time. Alongside 2016 first round pick Mikhail Sergachev, Hudon dominated at Montreal’s development camp in July and while it is not the same thing as an NHL camp, it further displayed how good Hudon is and how much he has developed the past few years.
For whatever reason, the Habs have been hesitant to call up Hudon despite him being better than his teammates called up ahead of him. With two good years of professional hockey under his belt, Hudon deserves a fair chance to make the team as he is already a better option than a few of the players on the current roster.