NHL Player of the Month: Nick Suzuki
Nick Suzuki has had a rather solid season for the Montreal Canadiens, one that could be called great when considering his point total is 50% higher than his next-closest teammate. He’s produced quite consistently throughout the year, though always seeming to get outshone by another player’s stellar performance when it comes time to choose our top player each month.
In March he was able to stand alone at the top with 17 points in 15 games, while being the most-used forward and ranking second in ice time behind only Alexander Romanov. Playing several teams destined for the post-season in that time, he found ways to be productive despite a heavy dose of defensive-zone starts versus some of the best players in the game.
Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki are unstoppable by everyone not named Dominique Ducharme folks. pic.twitter.com/JiqKXdQW4i— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 18, 2022
The team as a whole has been working through some glaring defensive issues after being significantly weakened on the blue line through trade deadline departures and an injury to Jeff Petry. Suzuki was one of the many players with poor underlying numbers in a month when the Habs were regularly outplayed. There’s still work for him to do on the defensive side to become an elite top-line centre, but the offensive talent is already there.
Honourable mention: Cole Caufield
Riding shotgun was Cole Caufield, as the two players continued to feed off each other’s skill sets. Following six goals in the month of February to take our top honours, he tied Suzuki with seven in March, just a couple of assists short of matching his point total. The goal total from the past two months would project to 44 over a full season, and we’ll see if he can keep up that pace in April.
AHL Player of the Month: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard
It was a roller-coaster month once more for the Laval Rocket as they navigate a highly competitive AHL North Division in search of a playoff berth. One of the biggest reasons they continue to occupy the second seed in the division was an incredible month from their youngest member of the leadership core, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.
He was held pointless in his first two games of the month, before registering 15 in the final 13 games he played. When the Rocket needed a big goal, he was more than willing to get himself into the dirty areas, and do everything in his power to put that puck in the back of the net. Standing just 5’9” has never held the alternate captain back as he plays with the swagger of someone much larger on every shift.
Rocket Goal!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 18, 2022
: Darien Kielb pic.twitter.com/YfUmOn5hP8
The six goals on the month were impressive, but his playmaking has also increased in quality, leading to nine assists as well. What’s most encouraging about him finding more assists is that he’s recognizing situations where his teammates are in a better position to finish off a play, and deferring to them instead of just trying to jam pucks home.
His selflessness hasn’t gone unnoticed, as head coach J.-F. Houle has had nothing but praise for the young forward throughout the season. As the Calder Cup playoffs approach the Rocket are going to be counting on Harvey-Pinard, and all signs point to him continuing to rise to that occasion.
CHL Prospect of the Month: Joshua Roy
Joshua Roy’s 21 points in 14 games represent a net drop in production compared to his outstanding month of February, which earned him the title then as well. It isn’t often that a prospect’s production drops and yet still remains well above the point-per-game mark.
The last two months of Roy’s trajectory have earned him an entry-level contract, and the prospect set a new team record for most points in a single season for the Sherbrooke Phoenix, eclipsing Félix Robert’s 92 points in 2019-20 with 94 of his own — 37 goals and 57 assists — with 15 games still left to go on the year.
Here's some good news during a bad game for #Habs fans— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) March 27, 2022
Joshua Roy ties the all-time Sherbrooke Phoenix record for points in a single season with his second assist of the night. pic.twitter.com/9z08fc5DYB
He is well on his way to setting unprecedented heights for future Phoenix hopefuls, and doesn’t seem anywhere near a standstill production-wise. His intelligence and high-paced processing of the game have allowed him to remain consistent throughout this season, with only seven pointless games so far.
There’s a case to be made for Riley Kidney’s month of March, having outscored Roy by three points in one more game, but Roy’s signing and the record he set for the Phoenix give him the notch above the Halifax-native.
European Prospect of the Month: Oliver Kapanen
Oliver Kapanen has had a tough spring. He has been on loan to a few different clubs in the different levels in Finland before the U20 playoffs started. Now that those are under way, he is playing well
He has been used much the same way as on the Finnish World Juniors team, a defensively secure and stable centre, with a bit of an offensive upside. He has been used in all situations: power play, penalty kill, and toward the end of the game when one team has pulled the goalie. He has scored four goals in five games. Two of the goals have been at the end of games after the result has been decided, but it shouldn’t take away anything from the progress of the centre.
It is this kind of progression that I have been wanting to see from the young player. Even if it is at a lower level, it is important to finish the season on a high and bring that forward into development camp and the restarted WJC this summer.
This is the first month of the year that Frederik Dichow doesn’t get the player of the month nod. The Danish goalie has played well but a bit uneven toward the end of the season. This is partly down to fatigue, both in regard to Dichow himself but especially from the team in front of him.
NCAA Prospect of the Month: Sean Farrell
Farrell only played eight games for the Harvard Crimson in March, all of them playoff matches, but managed to maintain a point-per-game pace over that span, which none of the other Habs prospects were able to do. With 28 points in 24 games on the season, 10 goals and 18 assists, Farrell adds to an already-impressive month of February in which he figured on Team USA’s Olympic team en route to a quarter-finals loss to Slovakia.
Although his two points against Minnesota State came in a losing effort which saw the Crimson’s season come to an end, Farrell will look to build off his end-of-season performances and head into the summer with the intent of adding more muscle, improving his board game, and getting off the wall more often. If he can do that, the rest of his game will fall into place, as his tremendous playmaking and offensive touch already have the makings of a top-six winger.
You can listen to Anton Rasegård and Patrik Bexell discussing the picks on the latest episode of Habsent Minded:
The making of an All Black: how New Zealand sustains its rugby dynasty - is the article referenced in the podcast.