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Catching The Torch: Samuel Houde’s game-winning goal, Allan McShane’s dominant play at centre

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Stats, highlights, and updates on the Montreal Canadiens prospects from the past week.

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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, WHL), collegiate (NCAA) level.

Allan McShane has 20 points in his last 12 games. He added three assists on Saturday and another one on Sunday to continue this impressive streak.

McShane isn’t the greatest skater; that is known. He isn’t explosive, lacks knee bend, and skates in wide tracks, diminishing his ability to rapidly turn and get around defenders off the rush.

Making it to the NHL will require improvements to his skating, yes, but he will also need to find ways to work around his mobility issues, as it’s probable that it remains below average compared to NHL players even with time invested with skating coaches. There are often physical limits that prevents players from completely transforming their skating, save for a few exceptions.

McShane is also of smaller stature at 5’11’’, but the good news is that isn’t “small” by the new NHL standards. He also doesn’t lack strength. McShane shows that his skill isn’t limited to the open ice and that he can be very good against tight pressure situations, being quick in finding ways to neutralize opponents in puck battles and using his handling to make plays or keep the puck on the offensive side in those situations.

If he can’t out-skate defenders, he needs to at least beat them when the puck is in range and free to be picked up. This is done by gaining body positioning, tying up sticks, and using your own to find the puck and a passing option.

A good complement to McShane’s developing abilities along the board and in tight quarters, like the front of the net, is his vision. Few players in the OHL, if any, process the game at a higher speed than the Habs prospect. Even with multiple opponents on him, the majority of the time he still knows where to send the puck to make the best play possible. It is often not a wobbly pass that prevents a shot on net, but instead usually lands perfectly on the tape of the open player.

He can also creatively use the boards to get the puck through traffic or a few stickhandling moves to do the same. His assist on a game-winning goal in overtime last week was a good example of this.

Allan McShane wears #61 with the Oshawa Generals

Even with a legitimate weakness in his skating, there is an exciting future for McShane, especially if he keeps adding elements to his game and shows consistent play, something that plagued him in his draft year.

Plus, the fact that his recent success has coincided with a move to centre — a more valuable position — is a bonus for Montreal.

Samuel Houde, C, Chicoutime Saguenéens

Houde was the first star on Saturday night and the second star on Wednesday. He recorded two points against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and followed it up by scoring the game-winning goal against the Québec Remparts the next game.

Since December 12, he has been scoring at a point-per-game rate with 14 points in 14 contests. Before that, production was very scarce for the centreman after a great start to the season. So which is the real Samuel Houde? Unless he proves otherwise, probably a performer who falls somewhere in between.

Houde has great hands and is able to make defenders miss. He also has a solid shot that combines power and accuracy. It’s this weapon that allowed him to give his team a much needed victory over the Remparts.

Houde also had a couple of other good scoring opportunities in that game. One of his previous shots had gone off the crossbar after he released in stride, and another one was caught beautifully by the goalie who just managed to get a glimpse of the fired puck as it was released.

Samuel Houde wears #88 with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens

Despite his skill, we only rarely see Houde create opportunities for himself from the boards or by manipulating the defence like top Junior-aged forwards do. Instead, he relies on exploiting the space that is given to him by the defence or his stickhandling to thread the puck through sticks and skates, which doesn’t give him as high a success rate.

The recent stretch is still encouraging for the prospect. It could be something to build upon as Chicoutimi gears up for the playoffs.

Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State Huskies

Ryan Poehling recorded a point in both games on the weekend, but as has been the case many times for him, he should have had even more. On Friday, he set up enough chances to earn himself more than one assist. Unfortunately, most of his passes weren’t converted.

Some of those were golden opportunities, great cross-ice feeds that only needed a shot precise enough to hit a wide-open cage, Poehling having drawn the attention of the defence and the goalie in his orchestration. Other scoring chances could have been prepared better by the passing artist that Poehling has became in the NCAA — he either made it clear he was going to pass or did so early — but still represented decent scoring chances, and on volume should have turned into at least one more goal.

Ryan Poehling wears #11 with the St. Cloud Huskies

The All-Poehling line performed better than last week since his brothers had productive weekends, but it still isn’t an ideal scenario for the Habs’ 2017 first-rounder. It will probably have to do, however, as St. Cloud keeps on winning and stands atop the NCAA rankings. Poehling will have to find ways to keep his production up through the experiment.

Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates.

CHL weekly stats

Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Joël Teasdale FA LW QMJHL Rouyn-Noranda 3 3 0 3
Samuel Houde 2018 C QMJHL Chicoutimi 3 0 0 0
Cam Hillis 2018 C OHL Guelph Injured
Allan McShane 2018 LW/C OHL Oshawa 3 3 3 6
Nick Suzuki 2017 C/RW OHL Guelph 3 1 4 5
Cole Fonstad 2018 LW WHL Prince Albert 2 0 1 1
Jarret Tyszka 2017 LD WHL Seattle 3 1 2 3
Scott Walford 2017 LD WHL Victoria 1 0 0 0
Josh Brook 2017 RD WHL Moose Jaw 3 1 3 4

CHL season to date

Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Joël Teasdale FA LW QMJHL BLB / ROU 66 43 37 80
Samuel Houde 2018 C QMJHL Chicoutimi 65 16 27 43
Cam Hillis 2018 C OHL Guelph 33 10 12 22
Allan McShane 2018 LW/C OHL Oshawa 62 34 35 69
Nick Suzuki 2017 C/RW OHL OS / GUE 59 34 60 94
Cole Fonstad 2018 LW WHL Prince Albert 67 29 44 73
Jarret Tyszka 2017 LD WHL Seattle 41 8 22 30
Scott Walford 2017 LD WHL Victoria 62 9 38 47
Josh Brook 2017 RD WHL Moose Jaw 59 16 59 75

NCAA weekly stats

Player Draft Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Jack Gorniak 2018 LW Big Ten Wisconsin End of season
Brett Stapley 2018 C WCHA Denver 2 0 0 0
Ryan Poehling 2017 C NCHC St. Cloud State 2 1 0 1
Nikolas Koberstein 2014 RD WCHA Alaska-Fairbanks End of season
Jordan Harris 2018 LD Hockey East Northeastern 2 0 0 0

NCAA season to date

Player Draft Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Jack Gorniak 2018 LW Big Ten Wisconsin 37 4 11 15
Brett Stapley 2018 C WCHA Denver 25 6 12 18
Ryan Poehling 2017 C NCHC St. Cloud State 32 7 23 30
Nikolas Koberstein 2014 RD WCHA Alaska-Fairbanks 35 0 10 10
Jordan Harris 2018 LD Hockey East Northeastern 34 1 11 12

Cayden Primeau’s weekly stats

Player Draft year League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Player Draft year League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Cayden Primeau 2017 NCAA Northeastern 2-0-0 1.00 0.973 0

Cayden Primeau’s season to date

Player Draft year League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Player Draft year League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Cayden Primeau 2017 NCAA Northeastern 23-9-1 2.05 0.935 4