After being drafted 122nd overall in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Charles Hudon was signed to a three-year contract by the Montreal Canadiens in May of 2013. He's currently making his mark with their AHL affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, and saw a few games of action with the Habs earlier this season.
Hudon began his career with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens as the sixth overall selection of the 2010 QMJHL draft. During his first season, he was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie team and received the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, finishing as the second-leading scorer for the Sagueneens, producing at almost a point-per-game pace. In 63 games, he tallied 60 points (23 G, 37 A), was plus-26, and served 42 penalty minutes.
His second season was much like his first, finishing second in scoring but this time tallying more than a point per game. By the end of the season he had 66 points (25 G, 41 A) in 59 games played and 50 penalty minutes. Named captain of the Sagueneens during his third season, he surpassed his personal records with a team-high of 71 points (30 G, 41 A) in 56 games and 66 penalty minutes.
The Alma, Quebec native has also found success representing his country at the international level. In 2011, he captained the Canada-Quebec team in the U17 World Hockey Challenge where he was second among all scorers with 11 points (5 G, 6 A) in six games, helping his team advance to the bronze medal game.
Later that year, he scored just one point in seven games played for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship-U18. Lastly, he represented Canada during the 2014 WJC-U20, where he played seven games, this time scoring two points. Again, his team made it to the bronze medal game but finished fourth after falling 2-1 to Team Russia.
After an end-of-season audition with the Canadiens' AHL affiliate in April 2013, in which he contributed three points (1 G, 2 A) in nine games, he made a seamless transition from junior to pro to begin the 2014-15 season. The Canadiens' general manager , Marc Bergevin, felt it would be best for his development if he played the entire season with the Hamilton Bulldogs to work on his all-around game and his defensive play, making him a more dynamic, two-way player.
While building on his skills, Hudon took his familiar position as the second-leading scorer on his team with a total of 57 points (19 G, 38 A) in 75 games, earned himself a spot in the AHL All-Star Game (where he shared MVP honours), and was named to the AHL's All-Rookie Team.
Hudon has proven to be a natural with the puck and continues to be a scoring threat, utilizing his mix of crafty stick-work and ability to manoeuvre around traffic with ease. His ability to change speeds creates openings for both himself and his line mates and his array of shots makes it hard for goaltenders to figure him out.
When Devante Smith-Pelly was placed on the Injured Reserve list after Alexander Semin cleared waivers, Hudon made his NHL debut on December 10th, 2015. At the time of the call up, he had 20 points in 24 games for the IceCaps and was 12th overall in AHL scoring.
In his first game, he was inches away from notching his first goal but had to settle for an assist when Sven Andrighetto finished off his shot in the blue paint. He returned back to the IceCaps a few days later with two points (2A) in two games played at the top level.
His steady two-way performance has Hudon as one of the top prospects in the Canadiens' system, being ranked as the second-best player not currently in the NHL in this past summer's EOTP Top 25 Under 25, and was just announced as one of the top 50 NHL prospects by ESPN.
Although his IceCaps have fallen into a slump, losing their last four games, Hudon is trying to stay in the right mindset. Just before their game this past Wednesday, he tweeted, "Practice is the key to success. Let's get that W tonight."
With that determination, he continues to be one of the shining stars on the IceCaps, currently sitting at number three on the team with 24 points so far this season.