When Daniel Audette joined the IceCaps this season it was expected that we would see him bouncing between the second and third lines. However due to injuries, call-ups, and general lineup shuffling, Audette ended up playing a much larger role.
Thrust into a leading offensive role while Charles Hudon recovered from injury and Michael McCarron was on recall in Montreal, Audette shined for brief periods to give us a glimpse of what his true potential can be.
Right from the outset one thing stood out about Audette; his speed and hustle frustrated opposing players every night.
When at the top of his game Audette created controlled zone exits with ease, before looking to pass off to one of his linemates. Due to his elusiveness he often found soft spots in the offensive zone, putting himself in position to finish plays.
Great passing sets up Daniel Audette's game winner in OT, three points on the night for him. pic.twitter.com/vPKUUUgXFD— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 30, 2016
While he’s able to use snapshots to great effect, Audette is also an outstanding playmaker, and provided a major boost for the IceCaps.
As evidenced by the clip above, Audette draws a lot of attention to himself. This gives him a wide open lane to feed a perfect pass to Bobby Farnham who buries it in the back of the net. Despite being dropped down the lineup when the IceCaps were healthy, his addition to the team bolstered the offensive depth that had been missing from previous editions.
Though there’s a lot to like about Audette’s game and it’s obvious he’s going to build on his rookie year, as always, there are flaws to be addressed.
Defensively there are improvements to be made to the young forward’s game. While the issue is far less magnified when the roster is healthy and Audette is facing off against weaker opponents. It was particularly noticeable when he was tasked with filling in for Hudon. Centre isn’t an easy position to play, especially in your first professional season.
Secondly, and this is true of almost every scoring forward, Audette could use some consistency in terms of his production. Despite a red hot performance during the middle of the season he was unable to carry that same production when he dropped back down the lineup. A 29-game goalless drought is a tough pill to swallow on a team that lacked any sort of offensive punch for long stretches of the year.
It’s not an entirely fair criticism since every goalscorer is considered “streaky”, but much like Scherbak’s rookie season, it’s a process he’ll have to figure out next year. He’ll likely be called upon to step into a larger role than this season, much like when the injury bug hit early in the season. If he can find that spark on a regular basis, then the Laval Rocket are going to enjoy a native son leading their team.
Despite a few hiccups along the way, fans should be extremely excited to watch Audette continue his push towards the NHL. His size doesn’t stop him from being a relentless forechecker, or from battling in front of the net. He has a great set of hands that he can use to deke goalies, or deliver a saucer pass through two defenders to set up goals.
Much like Scherbak, a little bit of positive coaching and a new system might be just the spark he needs to light up the score sheet every night. There might be some major turnover in Laval next year, but look for Audette to be a potential breakout forward in his second professional season.