NHL Player of the Month: Cole Caufield
Immediately after being named the Rookie of the Month in March, Cole Caufield began April on a four-game goal-scoring streak. On Saturday night, he not took the team lead in goals, but added one more to complete his first NHL hat trick. All told he scored nine times in the 14 games played, which projects to about a 53-goal pace over a six-month regular season.
Cole Caufield (22-20—42) finishing his rookie season strong.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 30, 2022
Only two @CanadiensMTL rookies in the past 30 years had more goals in a campaign: Michael Ryder (25 in 2003-04) and Chris Higgins (23 in 2005-06).#NHLStats: https://t.co/REG94MYk9d pic.twitter.com/AFR3A4jhdL
Just two-and-a-half months ago, he took to the ice for the first time under Martin St. Louis with a single goal in his stat line. He finished the season with 23, one behind rookie goal-scoring leader Tanner Jeannot, who played 14 more games.
We could all wonder about what could have been this season for Caufield, but it’s much more fun to think about what is yet to come for a 21-year-old sniper who just completed his first full professional campaign. He takes plenty of personal lessons from the season and likely some direct instructions from the coaching and training staff on what he needs to improve upon. His new general manager also now knows what needs to be done to complement such a prolific offensive talent. Caufield’s situation will be much more conducive to success to start next season, so doubling his goal total in 2022-23 is far from an unrealistic dream.
Honourable mention: Christian Dvorak
The first half of the season didn’t go to plan for Christian Dvorak, either, especially considering the cost to acquire him from the Arizona Coyotes. He only played 56 games after missing a month with a lower-body injury sustained in mid-December and all of February with a neck injury, but ended his year strong. He went without a point just three times in the final 12 games, ending the season on a five-game point streak and leading the team with 13 points in April, 12 of them scored at five-on-five.
Brought in to have his two-way game help compensate for the loss of Phillip Danault, it should be no surprise that his best stretch of the year came while playing with Brendan Gallagher, as both players developed a mutually beneficial relationship similar to what Danault and Gallagher previously had. That’s chemistry Kent Hughes may now be able to count on as he tries to put together a roster that can stand up to more pressure next season.
AHL Player of the Month: Joël Teasdale
With the Laval Rocket needing a big showing in the month of April to secure a playoff berth, they got it from a forgotten prospect. Joël Teasdale was a force that helped stabilize a Rocket team that was struggling to find consistency.
With 14 points in April, it was Teasdale picking up the slack for some of the Rocket’s top stars going cold, and he did so in impressive fashion. Despite not being the largest guy on the ice, he played a power-forward style that saw him driving hard to the net to make plays happen. It wasn’t just timely goal-scoring either. He used his strong core to fend off defenders and feed the puck to teammates to great effect.
Joël Teasdale with an incredible effort from his butt to set up Nate Schnarr for the 3-1 goal! pic.twitter.com/w64AFgdE9E— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 17, 2022
It’s been a tough pro career for Teasdale who has missed a large chunk of time due to knee injuries, including most of this season. However, with 28 points in 45 games he has put together a strong case for the new Habs management to keep him around heading into next year.
The next step now is for Teasdale and the Rocket to keep their momentum going as they head to the playoffs for the first time in club history.
North American Prospect of the Month: Joshua Roy
The Sherbrooke Phoenix forward takes the cake yet again, as the prospect posted the highest point-per-game rate for the month of April among all Canadiens prospects, with 21 in 13 games. Roy barely edges out Acadie-Bathurst’s Riley Kidney (again), who scored 23 points in two more games.
The prospect is two games away from ending the QMJHL season as the league’s scoring leader, with 115 points in 64 games so far. Although he is currently tied with New York Islanders prospect William Dufour at the top of the scoreboard, Roy has one more game to go on the season. With the production rate and consistency that the Habs’ fifth-round pick has managed throughout the year, the scoring title is all but guaranteed.
As Roy gears up for the playoffs, he’ll have an opportunity to show that he possesses the competitive second gear that Kidney showed last year. The ability to step up when the stakes are high is a sought-after trait for NHL teams, and the Habs could use some of that energy heading into the future. If he does step it up, he should continue to be our player of the month among North American prospects heading into the end of May.
European Prospect of the Month: Mattias Norlinder
In the end, Mattias Norlinder does get a mention for player of the month. His play in the short SHL playoffs for Frölunda was up to the level that we have expected from him. He was used on the power play, and raised his game in general all through the playoffs.
Norlinder had six assists in nine playoff games, and was used up and down the lineup. It was clear that his confidence was back and over the last two months it seemed like he tried to play more of a North American style of game.
I still think he needs to work on his gap control, but this is probably more visible on the bigger European ice and might not be as much of a problem on the smaller surface. However, there were great signs that should indicate that he will be ready come the new season in North America.