Each week Catching the Torch takes an in-depth look at performances over the last seven days of players in the Montreal Canadiens system below the NHL level. This includes players at the junior (CHL, USHL, etc.) and collegiate (NCAA) levels, as well as professional (AHL, ECHL) ranks.
Note: The stats in this article cover the two weeks that have passed since the previous update, rather the usual seven-day period. We will get back to the regular weekly reports on the Habs prospects next week.
Prospect Performances from January 23 - February 5, 2017
|Matthew Bradley||C||WHL||Medicine Hat||7||6||8||14|
|Simon Bourque||LD||QMJHL||Saint John||4||1||6||7|
Three Stars of the Week
(1) Matthew Bradley
Reports of his offensive exploits have been followed by an explanation that his Medicine Hat Tigers team is a goal-scoring powerhouse in the WHL, but now that Matthew Bradley’s point streak has reached 13 games, he’s due some individual recognition.
In those 13 contests, he has amassed 20 points, with his largest outburst being a two-goal, two-assist game in his most recent outing on Saturday. Three of his six goals in the run, which began on January 8, were game-winners, pulling him into a four-way tie for the team lead in that category.
The 20-year-old is third on the team in goals and fourth in points on the second-highest-scoring squad in the WHL. Bradley will be a key piece of the Tigers’ playoff run as they try to earn a spot in the Memorial Cup tournament in Windsor later this year.
(2) Simon Bourque
The top contender to represent the Quebec league in that tournament is the Saint John Sea Dogs, who landed Simon Bourque at the beginning of the calendar year. He brought his leadership and intelligent style of play to what was already a strong club.
He has seen his own fortunes on the rise in recent games, currently riding a five-game point streak, with four of those being multi-point efforts. Bourque is now just six points behind his season-best total of 46 (12 G, 34 A) which he set last season as the captain of the Rimouski Oceanic.
(3) Mikhail Sergachev
The Windsor Spitfires don’t have to exert themselves to make the CHL’s main event, as they have an automatic berth in the Memorial Cup as tournament host. At times this season it seemed that the NHL experience gained by Mikhail Sergachev had him taking a similar approach to the 2016-17 season, offering few glimpses of the play that garnered him the award as the league’s top defenceman last year.
While goal-scoring still hasn’t come nearly as easily in his second season of OHL hockey, he was piling up the assists over the last fortnight, adding seven to his season total over a four-game stretch. His shot total is well above the pace of last year’s 17-goal campaign, averaging more than three shots on target per game, so it may just be a matter of time before he starts turning the red light on again.
|Jake Evans||Notre Dame||3||1||4||5|
|Casey Staum||Dubuque (USHL)||4||0||2||2|
|Colin Sullivan||Miami Univ||2||0||1||1|
Star of the Week
As usual, the steady Jake Evans earns the title of top collegiate player in the Habs system with another great offensive showing. Evans has increased his production rate every year with Notre Dame, and currently sits above a point-per-game pace; an uncommon feat in the university ranks.
After five- and seven-game point streaks earlier in the season, Evans has had his name entered on the scoresheet in each of his last six contests. He has been held pointless in just seven of 28 games so far this season, and just once in his last 14.
Evans is quietly becoming a top prospect in the organization, and will be one to keep your eye on going forward.
|Michael McNiven||OHL||Owen Sound||2-1-0-1||3.67||.866||0|
Star of the Week
Fucale seems to have rediscovered his form with regular work in North American hockey’s third tier. The resurgence appears to have been brought about by an increased workload, as the Brampton Beast netminder has regularly been pelted with 30 shots over the last few weeks.
His best performance from a statistical standpoint happened in a goaltenders’ duel on January 27. He turned aside 37 of the 38 shots he faced through regulation and overtime, while watching his skaters launch 36 shots on the opposing goal. While Fucale’s side did eventually fall in a shootout, his play was crucial in the team claiming a point.
His future prospects remain uncertain, but this recent stretch of play is encouraging for the Laval-native, and likely has many people in his hometown hoping he can reprise his role as AHL starter next season and become the face of the new Laval Rocket franchise.