After all the injury problems for the Montreal Canadiens — and a few for the AHL affiliate — the St. John's IceCaps found themselves without a consistent lineup for the majority of the season. There's no doubting the difficulty that the team faced throughout the campaign, using 51 players and getting little time to develop team chemistry. But one player who excelled no matter who he played with was the captain, Gabriel Dumont.
Over the course of the season, he played in all situations and at all forward positions: from first-line centre, to fourth-line winger. To say he was the heart and soul of the IceCaps would be an understatement.
All the different line combinations aside, Dumont found chemistry in the second half of the season with another small, speedy forward: Max Friberg. After coming to the organization in a trade which sent Dustin Tokarski to Anaheim, Friberg, who plays a similar game, clicked instantly with the captain.The duo also made up the first penalty-kill unit, and were essential in the helping the IceCaps to the eighth-ranked PK in the AHL.
First and foremost, the AHL is a developmental league. The role of the coaching staff is to prepare players and ready them to play in the NHL. But it's not just the coaching staff that can have an impact in helping the younger players. Leadership within an AHL team is an integral part of advancing prospects to the next level. Dumont exemplifies how a good leader can positively impact that development, on and off the ice. His leadership and energy were key factors in the growth of many of the IceCaps' young stars.
As for his own, individual play, Dumont had his best season as a professional. His 19 goals tied him for second on the team, behind Charles Hudon with 28. Dumont set career highs in both assists (30), and points (49). Over the course of his career, he has improved offensively every season, which is pretty incredible, considering the lack of meaningful hockey during the last few months of each season when the team is all but eliminated from the playoff race.
As a result of his strong season, Dumont was named team MVP during the IceCaps' final home game. He also took home the Molson Cup, given to the player who earns the most three-star honours throughout the season.
Annnnd.... the IceCaps most valuable player, your Captain: Gabriel Dumont! pic.twitter.com/nR1efIxbFj— St. John's IceCaps (@IceCapsAHL) April 16, 2016
He is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the official end of the season. At 25 years of age, many will say that if he hasn't made it to the NHL now, he likely never will. Judging by his lack of NHL action this season (he received a call-up in each of the previous four seasons), it appears the Habs believe that to be true, as well.
Dumont may elect to re-sign with the Canadiens organization. After all, he is the captain and a key contributor in St. John's. However, at this stage of his career, one of the European leagues may be of more interest.