This post is part of Canadiens Day on PHT…
Charles Hudon has played the waiting game for a while. Now it might be over.
On the checklist for a roster spot in Montreal this season, Hudon ticks several boxes. The 23-year-old Quebec native’s been a terrific scorer at the AHL level, which included 27 goals and 49 points in just 56 games last season, and his limited body of work at the NHL level — three games in ’15-16, and another three last year — have also been productive, with four points over the six contests.
In June, the Habs made a show of faith by signing Hudon to a two-year, $1.3 million extension, with the second year being of the one-way variety.
If those weren’t enough signs, consider what Montreal director of player personnel Martin Lapointe told the Gazette earlier this summer:
“Coming out of juniors, the kid spent three years in the AHL and he never bitched once,” said Lapointe. “He never asked: Why am I not called up? Why am I not with the big club.”
But many fans will be happy to hear that Lapointe believes Hudon’s time has come.
“This kid will be knocking on the door this year for a job in Montreal,” said Lapointe. “This kid has proved in the AHL that he can put the puck in the net. He’s a shooter, he’s got a great shot. He uses his stick well and his sense of anticipation is off the chart. The pucks sticks to him. He’s got great vision.”
The x-factor with Hudon is where he fits in the Montreal lineup. Based on his offensive pedigree and size — listed at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds — he’s not exactly built to be a bang-n’-crash fourth-liner.
But that entire school of thought might’ve changed in Montreal.
At forward, GM Marc Bergevin went big — literally — at this year’s trade deadline, acquiring the likes of Dwight King, Andreas Martinsen and Steve Ott. The moves didn’t pan out and, in retrospect, looked even worse given some clamored for Hudon’s recall at the time.
Those were largely the same folks that pointed out Montreal’s pedestrian offensive numbers (15th in the NHL in goals per game) needed more of an upgrade than those in the height and weight departments.
As such, Claude Julien’s bottom-six forward group could look plenty different this season. Torrey Mitchell will likely retain his 4C spot, but could be flanked by Hudon — who, it should be mentioned, is waiver eligible for the first time.
Other intriguing options for that line include Daniel Carr, Hudon’s longtime running mate in the AHL, as well as Jacob De La Rose and Michael McCarron.
Whatever the case, Hudon appears primed to be a prominent member of the Habs for the first time in his career.
It’ll be interesting to see what he does with the opportunity.