Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the Junior (OHL, QMJHL, WHL), and collegiate (USHL, NCAA), level.
With the return of Nick Suzuki to Owen Sound, Montreal’s presence in the Canadian Junior hockey leagues is only growing. They have three players in the OHL, and what could be as many as five in the WHL depending on the fate of Cale Fleury at the Laval Rocket training camp. Plus, the Habs now have two prospects in the QMJHL after having none last year, with the addition of Joël Teasdale to the recently drafted Samuel Houde.
Teasdale’s performance during training camp convinced the organization that he was a worthy addition to the prospect pool. He was one of the better players in a rookie tournament where most others struggled and had a great showing in his pre-season game. When the team needed him the most to help kill a major penalty, he stepped up admirably; threatening offensively while down a man and likely capturing the attention of management with his work ethic.
The Blainville-Boisbriand player is a good bet for the organization with what he showed. There is also little downside to signing him, as by returning to Junior, his contract doesn’t count against the limit of 50 an NHL franchise can hold.
He will also be a player the other Joël, the coach of the Rocket and the ex-commandant of the Armada, knows, and will appreciate having next year when he, in all likelihood, ends up with the Rocket.
Teasdale is a skilled player with good hands. He doesn’t have the offensive potential of a Vitaly Abramov in the QMJHL, but he has enough individual talent to take on defenders on his own and come out on top a few times during a game. His style of play can also lead to extended presences in the offensive zone for Blainville-Boisbriand as he tries to twist, turn, and slide the puck in between the sticks and skates of opponents until he finds a shooting opportunity or a pass to make.
Teasdale doesn’t play the odds on offence. Pucks funneled on net usually tend to find the back of it after some tries, but faced with low-percentage plays, the forward prefers to circle back and find a better setup, a new hole to exploit in the defence.
His patience earned him his second goal against Shawinigan on Saturday. He received a pass from below the goal line, but couldn’t manage to settle it down. Instead of ripping the puck in the direction of the net as soon as he caught it with his blade, he skated behind the net and sent a pass back to the point. In the following seconds, he caught a low blue-line shot and slid it past the goalie, making up for his missed chance earlier.
His first goal was also quite impressive as he cut across the defensive zone to reach the doorstep and slide the puck in the cage. To manage that, he had to go through two defenders that he beat by taking advantage of their poor positioning. Teasdale, with calculated moves, forced them to move their feet in the opposite direction he wanted to go, leaving him space to continue his route to the slot.
Joël Teasdale wears #24 with the Armada.
This season should feature many more goals for Teasdale. It wouldn’t be surprising for the Armada forward to again reach the 30-goal plateau, with a good chance to beat his previous record of 32 in 2017-18.
Added to his offence, Teasdale can also very much be a contributor on both sides of the puck for a team, as he showed at training camp. He is a an annoying player to deal with in transition as he pressures opposing puck-carriers well and takes good angles to limit their options on the forecheck and backcheck. He is also an avid pickpocket who likes to descend from the top of the zone in his coverage to steal the puck and skate the other way.
Teasdale deserves to be followed closely this year. He isn’t without weaknesses — his skating could improve — or close to the top of Montreal’s prospect pool, but he is an improving player who can flash some great things on a given night, like he did Saturday against Shawinigan.
Now in his fourth season with the team, he will be one of the driving forces for the Armada. The team will turn to him to continue to put up points, improving his totals of previous seasons, and to act as a leader on the ice.
Samuel Houde, C/LW, Chicoutimi Saguenéens
Samuel Houde has a good shot. He scored only 16 goals last year, but had a low shot total of 1.83 per game. This gave him a respectable 16.2% shooting percentage.
This iseason he could break out as a scorer with more shot volume. In his first two games, he hit the net five times and scored two goals. One was a perfect one-timer off a cross-ice pass that left the goalie no chance due to the speed of the redirected puck, but the other was just a really precise release.
It’s hard to beat a netminder when he is set on the puck and ready for the shot. But it didn’t give any problem to Houde who circled the faceoff dot on his off wing, keeping his head up the whole time, and wired the puck after finding a hole under the blocker.
Houde was drafted after putting up only 32 points in 54 games last season. He has interesting tools like his stick-handling ability and the aforementioned shot that could have him put up a lot better production in 2018-19.
Allan McShane, LW, Oshawa Generals
McShane may have played only one game with the Generals this week, but he made it memorable with his assist.
On the power play, he received a hard feed from his defenceman at the point, which had the puck bouncing off of his backhand to get within the reach of an opponent. McShane managed to pull it away at the last second and move around the defender using his quick stick. With all eyes on him, and after taking a step forward to the goal line, the forward then passed the puck across the slot to his teammate who shot in an almost empty cage.
Cam Hillis, C, Guelph Storm
It wasn’t the greatest start to the season for Hillis with a difficult first game, and an uneventful second one. Last year, he also took some time to ramp up to full form. There is plenty of hockey to be played in the next few weeks for the prospect who seemed a big favourite of Trevor Timmins at the draft.
CHL weekly performances
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||2||2||3||5|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||1||2||0||2|