NHL Player of the Month: Max Domi
After another quick start to the season, Max Domi went cold in November. His response was to try to force things to happen that simply weren’t there, and that not only prevented any offence from being created, but often had him playing out of proper defensive position as he cheated for more offensive opportunites.
December was much kinder to Domi on the scoreboard. It started off with the odd assist now and then, but ended with him on an active six-game goal-scoring streak. On the longest and most important road stretch of the season, he scored in all but the first game versus the Vancouver Canucks, and he had two assists on that night. In total, he had 13 points in December, 10 in the seven games on the road to cap it off.
Perhaps even more impressive than the points is the discipline he’s been showing. He was in the box for just two minutes in 14 games. His temper had been getting the better of him in November, and that was something that was tolerated last season with his excellent point-production. For the first time in his career, he’s on pace for more points than penalty minutes, and it’s about a two-to-one ratio midway through the year.
Honourable mention: Brendan Gallagher finished tied in points, but trailed Domi by one goal. In the end, the goal-scoring streak to end the month and send Domi into the new year with the confidence to keep contributing is what tipped the scales in his favour.
European Prospect of the Month: Alexander Romanov
There is no doubt of who the European player of the month is. With the discussion about The Tsar and his future this month, along with his performance in the World Junior Championship, there was no doubt.
While Romanov has played his defensively secure game in the KHL, he is the backbone of the Russian team in the WJC. His physical presence, his skating and quickness on the ice, as well as his offensive drive have Montreal fans salivating about the defender joining the main club next season.
CKSA will make an offer that will be tough to discard for the young Russian. It remains to be seen where Romanov plays, but he will be an NHL player for sure in the future, and he is one of the most impressive Montreal Canadiens prospects at the moment.
North American Prospect of the Month: Jayden Struble
When we said it will take time for Jayden Struble to adjust to the NCAA, it turned out to be about three months. The defenceman is having a meteoric rise. In about half an NCAA season, he’s managed to match the effectiveness of fellow Habs prospect, and current USA representative at the World Juniors, Jordan Harris. His defensive game lags behind still, but he creates more offensively. He jumps on the attack, pulls off moves at the offensive blue line, and threatens to score more frequently. Regression and his developing abilities have led him to record five points in his last six games.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Struble remains one of the youngest players in the NCAA. He should be relied on more and more by the coaching staff in the second half of the season, especially if he can continue patching his play away from the puck.
AHL Player of the Month: Jake Evans
December was not overly kind to the Laval Rocket. As injuries mounted at both levels, they found themselves struggling without their regulars. In the absence of their stars, last year’s rookie sensation Jake Evans was the one who stepped up in a major way.
With four goals and 10 assists in the month, Evans was the driving force as a dynamic playmaker on the Rocket’s top line. While he found synergy with Alex Belzile last season, this year he has created a partnership with Charles Hudon in all situations. Hudon himself put home six goals, much thanks to the skillful playmaking of Evans, and the dynamic duo is helping to keep the Rocket going with a rotating cast on their other wing.
Jake Evans makes it six goals, with his sixth of the year. pic.twitter.com/YMM05tNk7n— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2019
As the team continues to battle through injuries and recalls, they’ll continue to rely heavily on the second-year centre. As it stands now, Evans is continuing to prove his worth, even after a slow start to the season.