Player of the Week: Artturi Lehkonen
Lehkonen broke out of his scoring slump this past week to bolster Frolunda HC's playoff run in a rather spectacular manner. He picked up an assist in his first game, a 4-2 win over Lulea HF to secure their first-round playoff series victory in a game 7 matchup. His best was clearly reserved for the next round, as he scored his first career playoff hat trick, which also happened to be his first three career playoff goals in a 4-1 win over Vaxjo Lakers HC in Frolunda's second-round playoff series. Frolunda leads their series versus Vaxjo 1-0. Lehkonen's hat trick ties him for the team lead in playoff goals and he is tied for second in points as well.
The Juniors Report
The Canadiens currently feature prospects playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Western Hockey League (WHL), the USHL (United States Hockey League) and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). These leagues can be considered the primary conduit towards professional hockey in North America.
Here's how the players in the aforementioned leagues performed last week:
|Daniel Audette (C)||QMJHL||2||2||1||3||0|
|Jeremy Grégoire (RW)||QMJHL||2||1||1||2||2|
|Michael McCarron (RW)||OHL||2||2||1||3||7|
|Tim Bozon (LW)||WHL||2||0||0||0||0|
|Brett Lernout (D)||WHL||2||1||0||1||4|
|Nikita Scherbak (RW)||WHL||2||0||1||1||0|
|Nikolas Koberstein (D)||USHL||2||0||0||0||2|
|Josiah Didier (D)||NCAA||2||0||0||0||0|
|Jake Evans (C)||NCAA||0||0||0||0||0|
|Mark MacMillan (C)||NCAA||0||0||0||0||0|
Daniel Audette: Audette is off to a quick start in his first-ever QMJHL playoff run with Sherbrooke Phoenix. He went without a point in his first game, suffering an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the Charlottetown Islanders. He stepped up to secure his team's first-ever playoff win in the next game, scoring two goals and an assist in a 7-3 victory over Charlottetown. Sherbrooke is currently tied 1-1 with Charlottetown in their series.
Jeremy Grégoire: The captain of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar is having some finding the scoresheet to start the QMJHL playoffs. He picked up an assist in his first game, a 3-1 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs. He went scoreless in the following game, a 4-1 win over Saint John. Baie-Comeau currently leads their series 2-0 over Saint John.
Michael McCarron: McCarron is off to a notable start with the Oshawa General in the OHL playoffs. He recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in his first game, scoring a goal, assist and racking up a fight as Oshawa defeated the Peterborough Petes 7-2 in the opening game. In a far tighter contest, he scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Peterborough in the next game. Oshawa holds a 2-0 series versus Peterborough.
Tim Bozon: It seems to be a slow start to the WHL playoffs for Tim Bozon with the Kootenay Ice. He went without a point in his first game, a 4-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen. He went without a point in the following game as well, a 3-2 overtime win for Calgary. Kootenay is tied 1-1 in their series with Calgary.
Brett Lernout: While Lernout hit a personal milestone for himself to start the WHL playoffs, he and the Swift Current Broncos find themselves in trouble to start their series. He went without a point in his first game, a 4-2 loss to the Regina Pats. He scored his first career WHL playoff goal in his second game, a 3-2 loss to Regina. Swift Current is presently in a 2-0 series deficit versus Regina.
Nikita Scherbak: It was a quiet start to the WHL playoffs for the Everett Silvertips scoring ace. Scherbak went without a point in his first game, a 5-1 win over the Spokane Chiefs. He marked an assist in his second game, a 6-2 loss to Spokane. Everett is currently tied 1-1 with Spokane in their series.
Nikolas Koberstein: It was another flat offensive week for Koberstein with the Bloomington Thunder. He went without a point in a 3-1 loss to the Sioux Falls Stampede and a 5-2 loss to the Waterloo Black Hawks.
Josiah Didier: It was a quiet end to Josiah Didier's NCAA career this past week. He went without a point in his first game, a 5-2 win over Boston College in the NCAA East Regional semifinal. He was scoreless in the next game as well, a 4-1 loss to Providence College in the East Regional Final that saw Denver eliminated from the National Tournament. He finished the season with three goals and eight assists in 40 games, fourth in defensive scoring on his team and 11th overall. Given his underwhelming stats during his NCAA career, his ability to secure an entry-level contract with the Canadiens organization could be rated as doubtful.
Jake Evans: Evans rookie season in the NCAA is over following Notre Dame's elimination from the Hockey East Playoffs and their failure to qualify for the National Tournament. Evans has seven goals and ten assists in 41 games this season, these numbers heavily suffered from a disappointing second half where he had 5 points in his final 22 games.
Mark MacMillan: MacMillan has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to an undisclosed lower-body injury that required surgery. He finished the season leading his team in goals with 16 and was named First All-Conference for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, along with being named the Best Defensive Forward in the Conference.
Hayden Hawkey: Hawkey has unfortunately been ruled out for the remainder of the 2014-15 season due to suffering tears in his Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament on November 29.
Zach Fucale: Fucale's season may arguably be over even as his team, the Quebec Remparts are locked into a playoff battle with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. He has been relegated to the backup role on his team for the start of the postseason due to his dismal play since being acquired by Quebec. His regular season numbers largely justify this, standing 15th in save percentage among starting goalies in the QMJHL during the regular season at 0.885. His failure to appreciably develop since being drafted by the Canadiens has placed his professional future in doubt.
The European report:
The SHL is the top professional men's league in Sweden and is at a comparable level to the AHL. Strong play here can often give indications that the player is moving towards being capable of playing in the NHL.
The Extraliga is the top professional men's league in the Czech Republic. While it is not at the level of the SHL, it is still a competitive pro league where solid production would give credence to a player's NHL potential.
Here's how the European prospects performed last week:
|Artturi Lehkonen (LW/RW)||SHL||2||2||1||3||0|
|Joonas Nättinen (C/RW)||SHL||1||0||0||0||2|
|Martin Réway (C/LW)||Extraliga||2||0||1||1||18|
Joonas Nättinen: Nattinen's SHL year quietly came to a close this past week. Playing with MODO Hockey in the Qualifying round to avoid being relegated out of the SHL to the secondary Allsvenskan league, Nattinen went without a point in his only game, a 4-1 win over HC Vita Hasten, securing a 4-0 series sweep for MODO. Nattinen went pointless through the four-game sweep and ended his regular season with seven goals and 11 assists in 55 games, eighth overall on his team in scoring. Given his being 24 years old and his production at this stage of his pro career, he is very much in the fringe category of Canadiens prospect.
Martin Réway: It was a short week for Reway with HC Sparta Praha in their Extraliga playoff drive. He went without a point in his first game, a 6-2 loss to HC Trinec. He marked an assist in his next game, a 5-4 overtime loss to Trinec. Sparta Praha is currently trailing 0-2 to Trinec in their series. Reway has a goal and five assists in six playoff games so far, making him the playoff scoring leader for Sparta Praha.
Year to date statistics
|Daniel Audette (C)||QMJHL||58||29||44||73||64|
|Jeremy Grégoire (RW)||QMJHL||32||20||21||41||59|
|Michael McCarron (RW)||OHL||56||28||40||68||128|
|Tim Bozon (LW)||WHL||57||35||28||63||19|
|Brett Lernout (D)||WHL||72||14||28||42||68|
|Nikita Scherbak (RW)||WHL||65||27||55||82||60|
|Nikolas Koberstein (D)||USHL||57||4||7||11||128|
|Josiah Didier (D)||NCAA||38||3||8||11||58|
|Jake Evans (C)||NCAA||41||7||10||17||22|
|Mark MacMillan (C)||NCAA||29||16||9||25||27|
|Artturi Lehkonen (LW/RW)||SHL||45||8||8||16||10|
|Joonas Nättinen (C/RW)||SHL||55||7||11||18||36|
|Martin Réway (C/LW)||Extraliga||34||9||28||37||54|