Montreal Canadiens Organizational Players of the Month

Max Domi takes the title for a second straight month, while new faces emerge at the other four levels.

Montreal Canadiens Player of the Month: Max Domi

Domi was our pick for the first month of the 2018-19 season. In November, all he did was net at least a point in 11 consecutive games and took his point total from 11 to 26.

He’s been held off the scoresheet in his last three contests, which is his longest stretch of the season, and perhaps an indication that his hot start has come to an end, but what a run it was. He was producing at rates not seen from a Canadiens player since the mid-90s, and has made himself a factor that teams need to take into consideration when devising their game plans.

With the Canadiens getting healthy and beginning to sort out some defensive issues, the opportunities should once again return for the winger-turned-centreman. A more determined Jonathan Drouin has allowed the two to put on a display of their skills in the opponent’s zone.

In his previous two games, Domi was given 20 minutes of ice time in an attempt to get the Canadiens some offence. That will help his confidence as he settles into his new role as a top-six pivot.

Laval Rocket Player of the Month: Jake Evans

It was a hard month for the Laval Rocket, starting on a losing streak, winning a few games, then losing five in a row in the final few weeks. They lost three of their top scorers to NHL recalls, yet in their stead a rookie stepped up.

In the month of November, Evans posted four goals and five assists in 13 games, which is pacing at the top of the Rocket scoring charts.

His month started in the best possible way, with a game-winning goal in overtime. With the Rocket power play slumping, they had a 4-on-3 chance in the extra period to win the game, and Evans cashed in on a cross-crease pass to win the game, and end the Rocket losing streak at home.

From there he just kept the offence rolling, grabbing two goals and an assist in his next two games played, and would again be the last-second saviour for the Rocket against Bridgeport, scoring a goal late to force overtime.

Perhaps even more impressive is that Evans brings a great balance to his new role as the Rocket’s top centre, finding a great edge between being a goal-scorer and a playmaker. His passing ability has opened up chances for his linemates, and they made sure to cash in on them, especially Michael Chaput before his NHL recall.

Les Canadiennes Player of the Month: Marie-Philip Poulin

It was never a question of ‘if’ Marie-Philip Poulin would take this monthly honour, but ‘when’ and ‘how many times.’ Poulin leading the CWHL in scoring is so routine that I can’t really name one spectacular game she had (of course that’s probably because her best game, a one-goal, five-assist game versus Worcester on November 18 was on the road).

In four November games, she had four goals and six assists for 10 points, leading the way on a line with Ann-Sophie Bettez and Mélodie Daoust.

The load on the captain’s shoulders will increase as the team enters December missing Daoust, Jillian Saulnier, and Katia Clement-Heydra, but if anyone could carry the team, it’s Poulin.

She had a “slow” start (as slow as five points in six games can be), but really turned it on starting with the games in Worcester and then keeping it going against the Calgary Inferno last weekend.

She also represented Canada at the 4 Nations Cup, winning a silver medal. She captained the Canadian team and had a goal and three assists in the four games, including making this unbelievable play:

European Prospect of the Month: Jesse Ylönen

Looking at the performances in the different pro leagues, there isn’t a standout player for Europe this month. However, it was in international play where Jesse Ylönen separated himself from the European pack.

In the Czech Republic, where Finland steamrolled the competition in the U20 tournament, Ylönen’s play against his peers stood out. The Finnish winger finished the tournament with three assists, one of them coming of this zone entry on the power play. He attracted two Swedish defenders by himself thanks to his exceptional acceleration, leaving Klemetti alone in front of the net to get the rebound.

This is the kind of situation that is typical for Ylönen, and it might change with confidence and some addition of muscle. He stayed on the outside and sent a shot from a relatively bad angle toward the net. This time it was successful as Klemetti nets the rebound, but Ylönen will need to go more heavily toward the net and shoot from better angles to have a huge impact in the WJC for Finland.

With three international assists, one Liiga goal, and an ever-increasing role in his Liiga team, Ylönen is the European prospect of the month.

North American Prospect of the Month: Josh Brook

With a ridiculous 16 points in 10 games — for a defenceman — it is almost impossible to pick anyone else this month. Brook has simply been too dominant. In this last stretch of games, he went from mostly a hopeful project to having a lot of excitement around him.

He is the same defenceman as last season, but has brought consistency to his offensive game and puck-moving. He makes better decisions in possession and has honed his tricks to make them even more effective, refining his shot-pass and developing a quickly-wound shot from the point to increase his goal totals. He scored three in November to equal his career high in 29 games. The last time he had this amount of goals, it took him a full season, or around 69 contests.

A participation in the World Junior Championship is next on Josh Brook’s radar. It is a good bet that he gets an invite when the rosters are released on Monday. The team has a lot of great right-handed defenceman, but the coach knows him well, and, hopefully, Brook finds himself on a pairing with Ty Smith, copying the top pair used by the WHL in the Canada/Russia Series.

The World Juniors will be a new challenge for the defenceman, who really seems to be outgrowing the Junior leagues this season. It will give everyone an opportunity to evaluate the prospect against top competition which is an exciting proposition.

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