NHL Player of the Month: Jeff Petry
The Montreal Canadiens played eight games in the month of January, and Jeff Petry had points in six of them. With one-seventh of the season played he stands as a point-per-game player, one of six defencemen who can make that claim. His most impressive point was probably his first goal of the season, when he played the puck with his hand then skated around the back of the net to collect it and deposit it in the net.
Petry has done all this while averaging over 20 minutes per night and playing with a new partner still adjusting to the Canadiens’ system. He also got through the eight games with zero penalty minutes on his record, all the more impressive when you consider how much difficulty the Canadiens have had with discipline.
The Canadiens have the most balanced team they’ve seen in a long time, and arguably the highest overall quality from top to bottom of any team in the league, even so, Petry is finding ways to makes his presence felt, and stands out as one of the top players on the team.
Honourable mention: Tyler Toffoli
Toffoli started the year getting some looks without getting the goals to show for his work. That all changed with a trip to Vancouver as he exploded for five goals in the three-game series, which has propelled him to the team scoring lead. It was an impressive performance, but in the end Petry’s consistently strong play and production over the full month earned him the honour.
North American Prospect of the Month: Cole Caufield
Who could it be but Cole Caufield? The winger had 15 points in eight games in January, a rare scoring pace in the NCAA. Before the World Junior Championship, Caufield was tied for the Wisconsin lead in points. Just a few weeks later he sits all alone at the top. His 28 points in 15 games also have him leading the NCAA, tied with Odeen Tufto, a senior of Quinnipiac University playing in the ECAC conference, which is a less competitive group than Wisconsin’s Big Ten.
Caufield’s impressive sophomore season is coming to an end relatively soon. His dominance bodes well when it comes to his NHL debut. We might see it sooner than anticipated.
️: Just Cole Caufield being Cole Caufield ⚡— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) January 30, 2021
: Weissbach, Holloway pic.twitter.com/IY0aJBQXaK
European Prospect of the Month: Joni Ikonen
There was a case for Alexander Gordin who is tearing it up in MHL, or Jacob Olofsson who has gone on a streak in Sweden’s second division. There was even a case for Jan Mysak as he was on a European loan when he played in the World Junior Championship.
However, looking past all the stats, January’s top story was Joni Ikonen, who has returned after almost two years off the ice. Having battled through different complications after a knee injury, he finally suited up for his new team, Ilves.
“The knee felt good, and also solid,” a relieved Ikonen said to Eyes On The Prize after his first game. In his second contest, he opened the scoring for his first goal since January 25, 2019, a wait of two years and a couple of days. The challenges he faced and his successful return to the ice make him the European prospect of the month.