Since joining the professional ranks three years ago, Charles Hudon has compiled 75 goals and 87 assists in 207 regular-season games, in addition to four points in four AHL playoff games this year.
Even in a minuscule sample size of six NHL games, Hudon looked right at home on the ice, posting four points in his few minutes with the Montreal Canadiens.
To put it in the simplest terms, Hudon is a game changer. He’s someone who’s a threat every time he touches the puck, and despite Chris Terry’s power-play scoring ability, Hudon was the St. John’s IceCaps’ best player this season.
Highly touted as a playmaker in the QMJHL, Hudon has become one of the AHL’s best snipers. With his last three seasons showing 19, 28, and 27 goals, respectively, Hudon knows how to find the back of the net, and does it with precision.
Playing on the top line with Terry and Nikita Scherbak for the majority of the season, the trio showed fantastic chemistry. Terry was a great triggerman, and Scherbak used his creativity to set up his teammates, but it’s Hudon’s play that stood out the most.
He created most of his chances with a heavy forecheck and fantastic shot.
Hudon steals, snipes, and the IceCaps lead 2-1! pic.twitter.com/SVDnaPgfM5— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 23, 2017
The above goal is a perfect representation of a classic Hudon goal. He picks the pocket of an opposing player and unleashes his quick wrist shot, leaving the goaltender with zero chance to react and make a save. He made a similar play on another lazy clearing attempt by the opposition earlier in the season (below). Defenders would do well to take care of the puck with Hudon on the prowl.
Charles Hudon steals, and then snipes his twelfth goal of the year pic.twitter.com/lT040RW3T8— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 22, 2017
He possesses an absolutely lethal wrist shot; it’s quick, hard, and accurate. He does well spotting even the smallest gap in a goalie’s pads and ripping the puck right through it. While not utilized as often, Hudon is capable of uncorking a vicious slapshot as well, typically from just outside the faceoff circle.
To go along with his dynamite goal-scoring abilities, Hudon’s hands and speed with the puck set him apart from his peers. He can take a feed, immediately get behind the defence, and deke a goalie before finishing on the backhand.
Perhaps the only negative thing I can say about this season is that Hudon missed a decent chunk of games due to injuries. Yet despite missing that time, he still produced at nearly a point-per-game pace when he was healthy.
If Hudon survives the expansion draft this year, there’s zero reason why he shouldn’t be playing in a Montreal Canadiens sweater in the upcoming season. He’s performed above and beyond at the AHL level for the better part of three seasons and was a major leader on the ice.
There’s nothing left for the young forward to prove in the AHL. He’s shown he’s one of the best players in the minors and it’s time to allow him to establish himself in the NHL.
He doesn’t have to be thrown on a top line either, he can battle and earn his NHL ice time like everyone else. It’s clear, however, that Hudon has all the tools to make an impact in the NHL, and he could very well be the injection of youth and creativity that the Canadiens desperately need.