Montreal Canadiens Player of the Month: Brendan Gallagher
In a 2017-18 season when not much was going right for the Canadiens, Brendan Gallagher was working his way to a new career high in goals. Watching his play you’d have never known he was on a team about to finish 28th in the league. With a different team approach and a more balanced supporting cast, that same effort level has him on pace to burn past that benchmark once again.
In February, he led a team with a dysfunctional power play with eight goals, ranking eighth in the league with that total. Three of them came in one game versus the Philadelphia Flyers, counting as the first hat trick of his NHL career.
It wasn’t just about offensive finish for Gallagher. He forced teams to think about defence while he was on the ice, often at least helping to neutralize the opposition’s top stars and opening up opportunities for the likes of Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin to display their skills.
He has been an alternate captain for good reason, and over the last month he’s been leading the team with his play on the ice, doing his best to keep Montreal in a playoff position.
Laval Rocket Player of the Month: Michael Chaput
It is a bit of a bittersweet award for Michael Chaput. He was finally returned to the Laval Rocket and proceeded to be a clear force for the AHL team each night. Then in the midst of a highly productive month, he was shipped out at the NHL trade deadline to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Jordan Weal.
He’ll be missed by the Rocket, as his return brought out the best in Alexandre Grenier and reignited Alex Belzile’s offence. Their line was one of the best night in and night out, even if they didn’t post gaudy numbers at the end of the month. Chaput in particular was a standout in every situation, from the penalty kill to the heavy minutes at even strength.
While short-handed, Chaput made the Rocket penalty kill a force to be reckoned with, tallying a handful of points by the end of his run in Laval. Perhaps none were better than his and Alex Belzile’s aggressive play against Belleville that resulted in a goal for Chaput.
Alex Belzile gets aggressive on the penalty kill, and Michael Chaput buries the shorthanded goal. pic.twitter.com/VGjMiZfoSY— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 19, 2019
He also added a short-handed assist in his last game for the Rocket, setting up Dale Weise’s goal. Above all of that, Chaput was arguably the most noticeable forward for Joël Bouchard on a nightly basis. Now the biggest hurdle will be for the Rocket to replace his presence in the lineup for the final two months of the season.
Les Canadiennes Player of the Month: Emerance Maschmeyer
Emerance Maschmeyer could have won the Canadiennes Player of the Month every month this season, and if it weren’t for the exploits of the team’s top line she likely would have at least once.
It was a season to remember for Maschmeyer, who led CWHL starters in wins, games played, shutouts, goals-against average, and save percentage. And she got better as the season went along.
She had a great month of February. She played in three games, winning them all, and allowed only two goals in the process. In those three wins, she defeated the three other playoff teams: the Calgary Inferno, Markham Thunder, and Toronto Furies. She carried a 0.67 GAA and .971 save percentage in those games.
She shut out the Inferno, making 24 saves on February 3. She allowed one goal in each of her wins against Toronto and most recently Markham in the team’s Pink in the Rink game.
She also played for Team Canada at the Rivalry Series, losing the opening game of the series 1-0 in a game that could have seen a lot more goals being scored.
Maschmeyer should be a shoo-in to win the CWHL’s goaltender of the year award. She has carried the majority of the workload this season for the team that finished the regular season in second place.
European Prospect of the Month: Alexander Romanov
Having missed out on the honour last month due to a comeback from Joni Ikonen, The Tsar took it upon himself to show what he could do offensively on a professional hockey rink. Romanov started the month with his first professional goal, a beauty that had his grandfather behind the opposing bench impressed.
The defender followed up with two more assists in February, a month where he got to play 12:52 per game, almost a minute and a half more than his season average. On top of that, Romanov has been part of the CSKA playoff team, albeit as a seventh defender, but still playing 10:43 over the two playoff games so far.
It was a surprise that Romanov was called into the Russian International Development team for a series of games in Bratislava against Belarus and host Slovakia. Romanov recorded two assists in the tournament, including on the game winning goal against Belarus.
He has outperformed any expectation for this season, and continues to do so, The Tsar has now won the player of the month three times out of five, leaving no doubt who has had the breakout season in Europe this year.
North American Prospect of the Month: Cole Fonstad
Cole Fonstad started the season with a point streak, but was moved down in the lineup after he got cold for a long stretch of games. Now the slump is now a distant memory, as the prospect has been on fire in the last few weeks.
In February, Fonstad managed 21 points in 12 games to break the point-per-game mark and bring his total to 69 points in 61 games. As he keeps picking up points, the Prince Albert Raiders continue to be a dominant force in the WHL. Their top-six is comprised of great complementary players. Fonstad, who is a slighter forward, is paired with players like Noah Gregor and Brett Leason, who are able to create space for him. In return, he is enabled to orchestrate great scoring chances with his vision of the play and, at times, creative passing.
Cole Fonstad's four points tonight (#24).— David St-Louis (@RinksideView) February 24, 2019
He has 66 in 60 games this season. pic.twitter.com/Baa2OKuS0W
The fifth-rounder has also emerged as both a passer and a shooting threat in this second half of the season, and especially in the last month when he split his production between goals (10) and assists (11) in this last dozen games. He has managed a few great releases from the slot, and showed that he has a knack for finding passing lanes and getting open at just the right time to receive the puck on his stick and direct it towards the net, before the goalie has a chance to react with a lateral movement.
Fonstad’s progression this season has been intriguing. His recent 1.75 points per game would be elite production over a full season. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain it to the season’s end, into the playoffs, and continue to work on moulding himself into one of the better play-drivers in the WHL.