Montreal Canadiens Player of the Month: Shea Weber
In a month that ended with the Canadiens on a seven-game losing streak and the third-most goals against, you wouldn’t expect a defenceman to be the team’s top performer, but that was the case in November.
The captain finished one point back of Tomas Tatar for the highest total in the month, with 12 in 13 games. Half of them were goals, and he was held pointless just three times.
Sure his offensive game was good, but how about the defence of the Habs’ number-one defenceman in a terrible month for the team in that department? Very strong, actually. At five-on-five, he had a shots-for percentage of 59.1%, a scoring-chances-for percentage of 55.8%, and led the defence with an incredible 61.9% high-danger-chances-for percentage. Despite playing the most minutes of any Habs blue-liner, four of his fellow defenders saw more chances from the most dangerous areas in their time on the ice. His 52-32 edge in scoring chances led to a team-best 15 goals for at five-on-five, and just nine against.
There were several issues for the Canadiens in November, from coaching to execution to general player performance, but Weber was doing his part to get the Canadiens’ heads back above water.
European Prospect of the Month: Jacob Olofsson
The forgotten prospect has had some injury troubles, and played in a tough role on a bad team last season. This year didn’t start well either when Olofsson suffered a concussion in Champions Hockey League play. However over the last month, he has managed to solidify his role in Skellefteå both as a centre and a playmaker on the second power-play unit.
While five points (2G, 3A) in all competitions might not say much, strong play both on and off the puck as well as on special teams helped him regain most of the lost confidence from last season. It shows in his finishes, but maybe most in his assists. In Saturday’s game against Malmö, he carried the puck in and threaded a pass between two defenders to an open teammate.
He has clearly benefited from a new structure, new coach, and a new team. It has let him take his game up not only one but a few levels compared to last season. The best part is he is not even halfway through the campaign, with his game growing with each match.
North American Prospect of the Month: Cam Hillis
Cam Hillis looks to finally be blossoming into the dominant Junior player he can be. He put up 17 points in 10 games last month. That’s a massive change of pace for the prospect. In that span, he almost equaled his entire production from last year, a meagre 22 points in the 33 games he could stretch together through his multiple injuries.
Physical maturity and experience have something to do with the explosion in his numbers, but watching him, it still feels like he hasn’t found his top gear. He isn’t shooting a lot, firing less than two pucks on net per game in the OHL, and there are still dangerous passes he could pull off more reguarly. His path toward becoming one of the very top playmakers in the league includes developing more of this dual-threat identity and becoming even more elusive to pierce through defences and create passing lanes.
This is still only the first third of the season. Let’s hope we see continued evolution for a player who just recently surpassed a hundred games in Major Junior.
Laval Rocket Player of the Month: Lukas Vejdemo
November’s performance was a revelation for Lukas Vejdemo in the AHL. He found himself starting the year as a fourth-liner alongside Alexandre Alain, but as the Canadiens recalled players and injuries struck, it was Vejdemo who stepped up to fill the offensive void.
In 13 games in November, Vejdemo tallied 10 points, with four goals and six assists. He played his way into a much larger role for Joël Bouchard. He’s using his speed and smarts to beat defences regardless of the situation. Already a huge weapon on the penalty kill, he finally brought that same intensity to other on-ice situations, including the power play.
Power play goal for Lukas Vejdemo, the young Swede is absolutely on fire for the Rocket right now. pic.twitter.com/CdH30JsTeS— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 16, 2019
He’s rounding into a more offensive forward, with the same defensive strengths he had last year, and that’s good news for a team missing many of its veteran forwards. While Riley Barber and Michael McCarron have begun to find their form recently, Vejdemo remains one of the hottest forwards on the team, and shows no sign of slowing down right now.