2013 Habs Top 25 Under 25: #10 Charles Hudon

Bruce Bennett

As a small, highly-skilled French Canadian, Charles Hudon embodies a popular stereotype surrounding the Canadiens roster. What else do we know about his game?

As the cherry on top of what appears to be the most impressive Canadiens' draft in recent memory, Charles Hudon is our first member of the EOTP's top ten Canadiens prospects for 2013.

Hudon is one of the Canadiens most promising up-and-coming wingers, a top-flight scorer in the QMJHL, and a strong contender to be a relied upon forward in this winter's World Junior Hockey Championship.

Hudon_medium

Voting

Our panelists seem to have similar emotions toward Hudon, as his ranking reflects some of the most consistent voting yet. A third of the panel agrees that Hudon is the Canadiens number ten prospect, while no voter placed Hudon lower than Laura's seventeenth-place finish. Since this is about as close as we're ever going to get to agreeing on a player that hasn't already joined the pro ranks, my job is to do justice to what EOTP thinks of Charles Hudon.

Arik Ian Matt Marc Stephan Robert Andrew Bruce Justin Chris Laura JF
8 10 9 13 9 14 10 15 7 10 17 10

Strengths

Hudon is a wizard with the puck, demonstrating excellent control while not being afraid to get into the corners and fight for the puck. The sum of these skills and tendencies is that Hudon appears to be a strong possession player, at least to the extent that the eye test will allow. Hudon also has an excellent shot, a tool that he displayed in the pre-tournament of last year's WJHC. After Hudon's Chicoutimi Sagueneens were eliminated in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs, Hudon was called up to the Hamilton Bulldogs, where he acquitted himself well and managed his first professional goal:


In addition to Hudon's physical skills, he also offers a full suite of intangibles that one likes to see in a top-tier prospect. Hudon is reputed to be a very intelligent hockey player, seeing the ice well and showing good hockey sense.

Weaknesses

The concerns surrounding Hudon tend to center on three issues. The Chicoutimi star's size, at 5'10" and 170 lbs, leaves something to be desired, though he does have a little bit of time left to grow. Many reports also comment on Hudon's speed, which while not inherently poor, does not match the quality of some of Hudon's other assets. Hudon will likely endeavour to work on improving his acceleration in order round out his skillset.

Perhaps foremost amongst Hudon's weaknesses, however, are the injury problems he's experienced of late. A back injury kept him out of last year's world juniors, and while Hudon was able to complete a solid season in the QMJHL after missing some time, he has admitted that he has not yet fully recovered. Following his performance at this year's Team Canada Development Camp, speculation abounded that Hudon may be attempting to return from injury too soon. While Hudon seems to be determined to place last year's disappointing tournament behind him, it would behoove him to ensure that he's not placing his future at risk by continuing to play before his rehab is complete.

Projection

The 19-year-old Hudon will return to Chicoutimi for one more season with the Sagueneens. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Hudon should be expected to dominate the competition in the QMJHL, with his impressive puck possession skills translating to excellent offensive and defensive play. Hudon will also look to overcome the disappointing injury that sidelined him for the duration of last year's World Junior Championships. Hudon should be an integral part of this year's Team Canada, as the team looks to claim gold in Sweden.

To examine the longer-term perspective, and to borrow the method that Bruce used in his Jacob De La Rose piece earlier in the series, let's check out some of Hudon's comparables in terms of draft positioning and potential future production. Specifically, here are the QMJHL-produced wingers drafted in rounds 4-6 between 2005 and 2012, with the exception of a few face-punchers I took the liberty of removing from the list.

Charles Hudon Comparables - Draft+1 Year Production

Drafted

Player

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

College/junior/club team

2012, 122

Charles Hudon

56

30

41

71

Chicoutimi Sagueneens

2005, 133

Stanislav Lascek

64

47

88

135

Chicoutimi Sagueneens

2005, 192

Nicolas Blanchard

60

15

29

44

Chicoutimi Sagueneens

2006, 127

Maxime Lacroix

68

22

31

53

Quebec Remparts

2007, 106

Maxim Gratchev

39

9

20

29

Rimouski Oceanic

2007, 122

Mario Kempe

48

25

24

49

St. John’s Fog Devils

2008, 133

Philippe Cornet

63

29

48

77

Rimouski Oceanic

2008, 134

Jacob Lagace

64

32

37

69

Chicoutimi Sagueneens

2009, 121

Nick Petersen

59

39

40

79

Shawinigan Cataractes

2009, 130

Mike Hoffman

56

46

39

85

Drummondville Voltigeurs

2009, 132

Gabriel Bourque

55

16

36

52

Baie-Comeau Drakkar

2010, 119

Tye McGinn

42

31

33

64

Gatineau Olympiques

2010, 164

Stephen MacAulay

58

15

16

31

Saint John Sea Dogs

2011, 102

Yannick Veilleux

59

27

31

58

Shawinigan Cataractes

2011, 108

Olivier Archambault

45

17

22

39

Val-d’Or Foreurs

On the positive side, Hudon compares favourable to virtually all of his contemporaries in terms of point production. This is likely a reflection of Hudon's skill and pedigree, as he was originally projected to be drafted much earlier than his eventual fifth-round selection. On the negative side, Hudon is standing out in a group a players that have had limited NHL success. Most of the names above are career AHLers, ranging up to players like Mike Hoffman and Nicolas Blanchard, who have had their cups of coffee in the NHL, and Gabriel Bourque and Tye McGinn, who appeared poised to establish themselves as NHL regulars. If Hudon reaches the ceiling of his potential, his talent should allow him to outclass all the names that appear on the list.

Conclusion

Hudon is a top junior player, and has a skill-set strong enough to buoy him to the NHL one day. Furthermore, Hudon's all-round game further solidifies his standing as a prospect, as it will likely ease the transition to a third line role should he be unable to establish himself as a scorer in the big leagues. It is easy to imagine Hudon moving up to Hamilton next year, playing well, and eventually moving into a middle-six spot with the Habs in the next few years.

However, Hudon will have significant obstacles to overcome in order to get there. Given the nature of his recurring injury, and his small stature, it is imperative that Hudon manage his fitness over coming year. Hudon will also have to contend with a strong Montreal system, in which eight to ten forwards could be argued to have a good shot at a future NHL career. Obviously, not all of these players will reach their full potential, which leaves us with the question in the specific case of of Hudon: does not reaching his potential mean playing on the third line, or does it mean playing in the AHL?

Would You Trade Him For...?

Hudon achieved relative consensus amongst the panel, with all but four of his votes falling in the 7-10 range. Do you think Hudon has earned his top-10 ranking? Where does the fifth-rounder Hudon rank in relation to, say, Mike McCarron? What about the sniper of this year's draft, Artturri Lehkonen?

#11: Tim Bozon #10: Charles Hudon #9: Louis Leblanc


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