Looking to make the leap: Charles Hudon

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.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Devils should clean house; Could Hall go back to Oilers?

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at

    • The Bruins are the best team in the NHL right now, but their fortunes may change soon enough. (Sportsnet)

    • The NHLPA is covering up a theft of over $100,000 union funds. (TSN)

    • The Devils should clean house after this season. (All About the Jersey)

    Marcus Johansson is frustrated by the struggles he’s been having this season. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)

    • Snoop Dogg is making an appearance in the NHL 20 video game. (Operation Sports)

    • How has Sheldon Keefe changed the Maple Leafs? (The Score)

    • There’s a few reasons why the Flyers had so much success in November. (Yahoo)

    • The Edmonton Oilers are interested in Taylor Hall, but they will probably be outbid. (Edmonton Journal)

    • The St. Louis Blues are gaining strength through injury adversity. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    • The Habs have lose nine of their last 10 games. Is it time for them to rebuild? (Spector’s Hockey)

    • What is the true value of a fifth-round draft pick? (Japers Rink)

    • Gus Katsaros explains how defensemen are evolving with the times. (Rotoworld)

    • The Red Wings are looking to have fun during this tough stretch. (MLive)

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    The Buzzer: First place Coyotes; Zuccarello leads Wild to another win

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    Three Stars

    1. Mats Zuccarello, Minnesota Wild. After a pretty miserable start to the season the Wild are starting to get back on track and picked up their fifth win in a row on Thursday by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-4. Zuccarello was the big star for the Wild with three points (his first three-point game of the season) including the game-winner in the third period. His goal came just eight seconds after Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn had tied the game. Things looked bleak for the Wild’s playoff chances in the first month of the season, but their win on Thursday moved them — at least temporarily — into the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

    2. Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes. And which team sits on top of the Pacific Division after Thursday’s action? It is none other than the Arizona Coyotes thanks to their 3-1 win in Philadelphia. They have been road warriors this season and now own a 10-3-3 record over their first 16 away games. They used a two-goal effort from Kessel — as well as another great goaltending performance — on Thursday to get their latest win. Kessel has yet to make the big offensive impact the Coyotes were hoping for this season, but he tends to score goals in bunches and maybe this is the start of one of those runs. Arizona is back in action on Friday when Kessel makes his first return to Pittsburgh since the Penguins traded him over the summer.

    3. Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers. Artemi Panarin scored the game-winning goal in his return to Columbus, but the biggest difference maker for the Rangers in their 3-2 win was their goalie. Georgiev was sensational, stopping 45 out of 47 shots in helping to steal one for the blue shirts. Read all about that game here.

    Other notable performances from Thursday

    • Petr Mrazek had an eventful night for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. He stopped a lot of shots, picked up a shootout win, and got punched in the face. Read all about it here.
    • Joe Pavelski scored the overtime winner for the Dallas Stars in their 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
    • The Chicago Blackhawks let a 3-0 third period lead slip away in Boston against the Bruins, but Jonathan Toews bailed them out in overtime with the game-winning goal.
    • Milan Lucic was finally able to get his first goal of the season for the Calgary Flames. It turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
    • Matt Calvert had a goal and an assist for the Colorado Avalanche in their 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

    Highlights of the Night

    The Wild looked like the Harlem Globetrotters and the Lightning looked like the Washington Generals on this Jason Zucker goal.

    The Colorado Avalanche have their top line back together, and Gabriel Landeskog wasted no time in making an impact in his return to the lineup.

    Maybe this is the shot that gets Johnny Gaudreau rolling for the Calgary Flames.

    Blooper of the Night

    Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk accidentally hip-checked a referee in their 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.


    • It was a highly competitive night around the league with eight of the nine games being decided by a single goal, including four overtime games. The only game decided by more than one goal was Arizona’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia, and even that was a one-goal game until a late empty-net goal from Kessel. [NHL PR]
    • Thanks to Ryan Pulock‘s overtime goal the New York Islanders extended their point streak on home ice to 12 games. [NHL PR]
    • Jonathan Toews’ overtime goal in Boston was the 14th of his career in the regular season, moving him into a tie for 10th place on the NHL’s all-time list. [NHL PR]


    Chicago Blackhawks 4, Boston Bruins 3 (OT)
    Colorado Avalanche 3, Montreal Canadiens 2
    Minnesota Wild 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 4
    New York Islanders 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2 (OT)
    Arizona Coyotes 3, Philadelphia Flyers 1
    Carolina Hurricanes 3, San Jose Sharks 2 (SO)
    New York Rangers 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
    Dallas Stars 3, Winnipeg Jets 2 (OT)
    Calgary Flames 4, Buffalo Sabres 3

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Mrazek gets punched in mask by Thornton; leads Hurricanes to win


    It was an eventful night for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek.

    When it comes to the important stuff — stopping pucks to prevent goals and get a win — he was about as good as he could have possibly been by turning aside 28 out of 30 shots throughout regulation and overtime, as well as all three shots he faced in a shootout, to help lift his team to a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks and bust out of a mini-slump that had seen them lose three of their previous four.

    He also had a run-in with Sharks forward Joe Thornton that saw him get punched squarely in the mask.

    It all started mid-way through the second period when Thornton attempted to jab at the puck that Mrazek had covered in the crease. Mrazek, taking exception to that jab, then chased after Thornton, swung his stick at the back of Thornton’s leg, stood up to get in his face … then got punched.

    There were penalties handed out here, with Thornton getting two minutes each for roughing and slashing, while Mrazek was given a two-minute minor for slashing.

    Mrazek was asked after the game if it is tough getting back into the game and maintaining focus after a scrum like that, and he was quick to say that’s actually better for him because it makes him feel like he is in the game.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.


    Panarin scores in return to Columbus, helps Rangers steal one

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    Artemi Panarin was back in Columbus on Thursday night for the first time since leaving the Blue Jackets to join the New York Rangers in free agency this past summer.

    After hearing some early boos from the local crowd, Panarin ended up getting the last laugh and was the difference maker by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period of the Rangers’ 3-2 win.

    Panarin was the Blue Jackets’ best player for two years and one of the biggest reasons they made the playoffs both years, finally winning their first playoff series a year ago when they upset the heavily favorite Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1.

    This is the video tribute the Blue Jackets had prepared for Panarin on Thursday.

    So far his time with the Rangers has been everything the team’s management could have hoped for, and with his goal on Thursday is now up to 13 goals and 34 points on the season in his first 27 games.

    What has to be especially frustrating for the Blue Jackets in this one isn’t just the fact that Panarin came back to haunt them by scoring the game-winning goal, but they were probably the better team in this game and played well enough to win. They ended up dominating the pace of the game and outshot the Rangers by a 47-19 margin and spent the entire night taking up residence in the Rangers’ end of the rink.

    The problem was Alexander Georgiev was a rock in the Rangers’ net.

    They also gave up a crushing goal to Brendan Lemieux in the closing seconds of the first period, erasing what had been a 1-0 lead and squandering what was a tremendous start to the game.

    The win allowed the Rangers to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race and leaves them just three points back of a Wild Card spot.

    The Blue Jackets fall to 11-13-4 and are already eight points back.

    Related: Rangers’ Panarin returns to Columbus the way he left: as a superstar

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.