Rabid Habs

Charles Hudon Is Favourite To Make The Habs Out Of Camp

Charles Hudon Photo - RDS.ca

With training camp just around the corner, and the rookie camp already started, Charles Hudon could be said to be the favourite of the rookies to make the Habs roster this upcoming season.

Despite his international success, where he put up 5 goals and 9 points in 5 games, helping Canada capture a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, the 21-year-old Boisbriand (Quebec) native was only drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Since his draft year, he has improved every season.

After his draft year, Hudon got a call to be invited to play for Team Canada during the 2012 Subway Super Series, which was the second tribute to the 1972 Canada-Russia summit series. During the series against the Russians, Hudon was playing amazing and was being called a steal in the 5th round with his already advanced defensive skills. All of this, despite a measly goal and assist during the 4 games he played. He was the biggest surprise during the tournament, as many didn’t believe he would make such an impact in the series. He then put up an amazing year as the new captain of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens by scoring 30 goals and 71 points in 56 games. He then notched 5 goals and 10 points in six playoff games. To cap off his season, Hudon joined  the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, where he contributed a goal and 3 points in 9 games.

During the 2013-14 QMJHL season, after putting up 14 goals and 41 points in 33 games on a struggling Saguenéens team, Hudon was traded to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar where he notched 35 points in 24 games alongside the Canadiens 2013 6th round pick Jérémy Grégoire. The two developed instant chemistry and helped lead the Drakkar all the way to the President’s Cup finals. However, they lost in a tight 7 game series to the Val D’Or Foreurs. During the run, Hudon scored 10 goals and 21 points in 22 games finishing third behind Grégoire and Valentin Zykov who put up 23 and 22 points respectively.

Hudon also played in his only World Junior Championship in 2013-14, where he scored a goal and an assist in a 4th place finish for Canada in Malmo, Sweden. Despite the rough performance, Hudon bounced back.

The 2014-15 season was a breakout year. In his first full pro hockey season, Hudon was arguably the Bulldogs’ biggest offensive threat as he put up 57 points (19 goals and 38 assists) in 75 games. He was even invited to the AHL all-star game where he was co-MVP after notching a hat trick and an assist in the game.  He ended the season on the All-Rookie team and finished runner-up to Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins goalie Matt Murray.

This upcoming season Charles Hudon, who is now 5’11.5′ and 185 pounds (previously he was 5’10” when he was drafted in 2012), will be looking to crack the Habs roster.  If he is going to make the team he will need to show the Habs brass that he can fit in the top 9, more specifically as the 2nd or 3rd line left-winger. The Canadiens have a gap on the left wing as they have decided to put Alex Galchenyuk at centre for the upcoming season. This gives Hudon a slightly a better chance to slot in on the top three lines, as it’s still uncertain who will take Galchenyuk’s place at left wing. Signs point to David Desharnais as of right now, but he is a natural centre and the guy that will likely suffer the most from Galchenyuk’s move to centre. The reason for this is because the other two centres, Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec, are much better defensively than Desharnais who has been getting sheltered offensive zone starts for much of his career at centre.

However, Hudon is a good two-way forward that could compliment Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher/Alex Semin on the Habs second line.  He could potentially prove that he is a better option to play there over Desharnais ,who would then be pushed down to the team’s third line alongside Lars Eller and Zack Kassian.

This team has much better scoring depth than it did entering last season. With the additions of Zack Kassian and Alex Semin replacing the likes of Brandon Prust and P.A. Parenteau, the Canadiens have added a potential 15-20 more goals to their line-up. Whether it actually works will be determined by whether or not the players work hard every night.

However, if it doesn’t workout with Semin, Hudon could be brought into the fold. A top offensive prospect like Hudon could come in and develop in an important 2nd line winger role. Hudon isn’t the only guy who has a chance to really put pressure on the Habs brass at training camp. Another is 2014 first round pick Nikita Scherbak. However, Hudon has the advantage as Scherbak has yet to play a pro hockey game, while Hudon has a full season under his belt as the Hamilton Bulldogs’ top forward. That being said, Scherbak has the potential to be an elite forward someday.

While it may be hard for Hudon or Scherbak to crack the Habs roster, if either of them plays to their potential they could force management to make a trade before the season begins. Don’t be surprised to see both in the NHL very soon.

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