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) and collegiate (NCAA) level.
Samuel Houde may have only recorded five points in 11 games in February, but he started March with a bang with a four-point game. Four assists that helped his team come back from a two nothing deficit over the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Both teams already have their ticket to the post-season due to the way the playoffs are structured in the QMJHL, but it remained a good moment for Houde to step up as the Phoenix is the Saguenéens closest pursuant in the standings.
The Habs fifth-rounder can be a slick passer at times. He displayed it when, on the power play, he slid the puck behind his back to a close teammate, springing them for a shot on net and a goal.
Houde also has the ability to rush the puck up the ice. He is not the fastest player, or exceptionally creative with his rush patterns, but he has good hands and knows how to use the space given to him to skate past the blue line while evading opposing sticks.
Samuel Houde wears #88 with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens
For his second assist of the night, he faked a pass to a teammate in the neutral zone to get by a first defender and got around a second one to enter the zone before putting on the brakes. He turned back and slid the puck over to his blue line, got it back, and passed to Liam Murphy who headed to the slot and beat the goalie cleanly.
Houde isn’t having the season that he hoped. He surpassed his totals of last season with 38 points in 54 games, but still has trouble with consistency. Let’s hope that game helped him gain confidence.
Joël Teasdale, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Contrasting with Houde’s season, Joël Teasdale continues scoring at a fast pace since joining the Royn-Noranda Huskies in December. The Huskies are a powerhouse. They throne at the top of the QMJHL with a 10-point lead over the next pursuant, the Drummondville Voltigeurs. And Teasdale is helping power the machine that they have become.
The new Habs’ prospect has 20 goals and 17 assists for 37 points in 23 games, or 1.61 point-per-game. This week, he added just one goal to his totals but picked up four assists. He continues to balance out between playing the role of scorer and playmaker on a line with top QMJHL point Peter Abbandonato and draft-eligible sniper Alex Beaucage. The trio continues to fuel each others impressive numbers this way.
Teasdale also plays a checking role with the Huskies. He spends some time on the penalty kill, just like he did with the Blainville-Armada. And just like he did with the Blainville-Armada, he occasionally finds ways to generate offence even when down a man.
Watch Teasdale cut a waist-high pass with a good read and very quick reaction time to steal the puck and skate the other way. He looks over his shoulder for support, sees Noah Dobson flying out of the zone behind him and, upon facing the goalie, fakes a shot to slide the puck over for his defenceman to shoot in the empty cage.
Joël Teasdale wears #24 with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
But the sequences that are the most fun with Teasdale are the ones where he is protecting the puck against defensive pressure. He is not the biggest player, or the most explosive — in terms of skating ability — but he has very shifty hands and consistently makes first touch on the puck while spinning around to avoid opposing checks.
This will be a useful skill when he gets to the professional level next season, especially if he can learn to use his body to act as a shield just as well.
Nick Suzuki, C, Guelph Storm
When Nick Suzuki was first traded, it was assumed that the change of scenery would boost his already high production through his previous ceiling. It took a while, but he seems to have finally hit his stride, chaining multi-point games after multi-point games.
But it didn’t just magically happen. Guelph reunited arguably their three best forwards in Suzuki, Isaac Ratcliffe and Nate Schnarr in recent games, and it is what seems to have ignited the spark that turned the Habs’ prospect’s production red hot. Centering that line, Suzuki is, incredibly, one point shy of scoring at three points per game in his last eight games with 23 points.
He is picking up the odd secondary assist here and there, like everyone else, but like it is the case most of the time with him most of his production comes from displays of skill or smarts. Suzuki feeds off the talent around him, but can just as well make the players around him better. Like on Sunday afternoon, where he assisted on all three goals of Schnarr, helping the Arizona third-rounder reach — and then break — the thirty-goal mark for the first time.
In that contest against the Kitchener Rangers, Suzuki also picked up another assist on a goal from the blue line, and scored two himself showing both his wrist shot dragged release and his ability to one-time the puck in.
Nick Suzuki wears #9 with the Guelph Storm
This last goal was perhaps the most interesting marker of Suzuki’s last week. One-timers are an incredibly important tool for a goal-scorer at the NHL level. If he is ever to be a shooting threat from the left circle, he will need to be able to fire pucks precisely, and quickly, in the net before the goalie has time to set himself up.
Suzuki is pretty good at a diverse selection of shot. He doesn’t show his slappers as much as his wrist shots but has scored some great goals this season by falling to one knee and redirecting the puck in with a hard release, enough to consider that this is something he should be able to do on a relatively consistent basis.
Suzuki will probably fall just short of the 100-point barrier this season despite his recent huge increase in production. He took some time to get adjusted to Guelph, but a more important factor is he missed games due to the World Junior Championship, and now only has six games left to score 14 points. It’s possible, but unlikely.
Still, his current 1.78 point-per-game pace is very impressive, and his 1.62 over the season would have had him put up 110 points over a full 68 games season.
There is no reason to really be concerned by Suzuki’s production in his final year anymore, if concerns there were. The statistical improvements are there. Now that the Guelph Storm have clinched a playoff spot, the next challenge that the Habs’ prospect will have to face is leading the team as far as he can in the post-season.
Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates.
CHL weekly stats
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||2||0||1||1|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||3||1||3||4|
CHL season to date
|Joël Teasdale||FA||LW||QMJHL||BLB / ROU||66||43||37||80|
|Nick Suzuki||2017||C/RW||OHL||OS / GUE||59||34||60||94|
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||67||29||44||73|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||59||16||59||75|
NCAA weekly stats
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||End of season|
|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
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||37||4||11||15|
|Ryan Poehling||2017||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||32||7||23||30|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||34||1||11||12|
Cayden Primeau’s weekly stats
Cayden Primeau’s season to date