NHL Player of the Month: Cole Caufield
Despite entering a new year with quite a bit of turnover on the Montreal Canadiens’ roster, Caufield has taken his game even further from where he left off last season. He ended 2021-22 with 22 goals in his final 37 games; a 49-goal pace. In nine games played in October, he had seven goals, which projects to 64 over the full 82 games.
Cole Caufield, still good at scoring goals pic.twitter.com/B5C1ASjqNE— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 30, 2022
While the shot is back to being the dangerous weapon we knew it could be (remember how many wide shots and flubbed one-timers he had to start last year?), he’s not just waiting around for someone to feed him the puck. The most impressive part of Caufield’s start is how active he has been along the boards in the offensive zone, taking contact from defencemen, sometimes getting knocked flat, but often helping to win possession and creating his own offence.
There’s work to be one on his game as his play in the defensive end is still evolving, but he’s become a more complete player around the opposition’s net, and on pace for major breakout as a result.
Honourable mention: Nick Suzuki
Since Martin St-Louis took over behind the bench, the only question has been whether Caufield or Suzuki would take this monthly honour (Caufield has done so three of the last four times now), and October was no exception, as both players lead the club with 10 points apiece. Sean Monahan and Kirby Dach have made great first impressions, Josh Anderson is rounding out his own game, and Kaiden Guhle had a stellar start to October while partner David Savard had a great finish, but Suzuki and Caufield are simply at a higher level.
European Prospect of the Month: Petteri Nurmi
This award could have swung either way in Finland. Oliver Kapanen has seven points (3G, 4A) in October, and is logging good minutes, but it is the seventh-round defenceman who gets the honours this month. Petteri Nurmi was out injured for the start of the season, but since his return to the first pairing of HPK’s back line on October 13, he has played close to 20 minutes a game and has one goal and three assists in seven matches.
He is even in terms to plus/minus on a faltering HPK team. One question is: Will Nurmi stay with HPK the full season or get traded to a contender at the deadline?
It is not an explosion or a complete breakout, but you understand why Montreal picked him in the 2022 NHL Draft. He has a clear upward trajectory, understands the game of hockey, and while being an over-ager they still have his rights for four years. I am 99% sure that Nurmi will be in Laval next reason, and if he continues his trajectory he will at least get a chance in the NHL.
Honourable mention: Oliver Kapanen
AHL Player of the Month: Anthony Richard
It has been a struggle to start the year for the Laval Rocket. They haven’t had the consistency they had last year in order to put together regular wins. Part of that struggle has come from a slow start from their top prospects (who haven’t played badly, they’re just not scoring). However, the team was also restocked with top veterans to help keep the team afloat if that happened, one of whom is Anthony Richard.
After Richard terrorized the Rocket in the opening round of the playoffs, the Canadiens’ front office went out and made him a priority AHL signing during free agency. He repaid their gamble with six points in October, notching four goals and two assists as a mainstay in the top six.
Richard’s speed has made him an absolute handful for opposing defences as he gains separation quickly, and possesses the hands needed to open up opposing goalies to score on breakaways. Adding in a quick, snappy release, he’s become a clutch goal-scorer for the Rocket in any situation.
It’s also not just his goal-scoring that’s made him stand out. His effort on the forecheck has led to a number of opportunities for his teammates, including Justin Barron whose first goal of the year came thanks to Richard.
Justin Barron gets his first goal as a Rocket!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 29, 2022
Anthony Richard with a massive assist on the play to give Laval a 3-1 lead! pic.twitter.com/tgX38DjA9q
While the Rocket are hoping for better results in November, they’ll continue to rely on the veteran Richard to be a big part of that process.
Honourable mention: Xavier Simoneau
North American Prospect of the Month: Owen Beck
Although Beck’s seven goals and seven assists in 10 games aren’t the highest point-per-game total among Habs prospects in the month of October (that title goes to Jared Davidson, who is up to 17 points in nine games for the Seattle Thunderbirds), his play since returning to the Mississauga Steelheads has been near-irreproachable.
Highly dependable in all three zones and consistent in his involvement despite not filling the scoresheet on a nightly basis, Beck’s play peaked on the weekend of October 21, when he scored six points on Friday night and three the following evening. All this while showcasing parts of his game that weren’t as obvious in his draft year as a result of playing a shutdown role, such as his one-timer from the half-wall.
Owen Beck (MON) out here casually dropping a 6-point night.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 22, 2022
I feel like he may have shaken the return-to-junior rust.
This is a prospect whose game already should translate more than well enough to the NHL. He might not break OHL scoring records, but that doesn’t matter if every one of the plays he makes to earn his points would work just as well in the show.
Expect Beck to build off of this end-of-month hot streak. He has shown the Steelheads that they can call upon him in need-to-score scenarios, and that he can deliver.
Listen to Hadi Kalakeche, Matt Drake, Anton Rasegård and Patrik Bexell discuss the selection of the players in the article:
The Owen Beck hit that was referenced in the podcast: