MONTREAL, QC. — The 122nd pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Charles Hudon, became the latest player from the draft to earn an NHL call up this season. The Canadiens announced on December 8th that they have recalled the centre/left winger. This was the first time that Hudon has been called to the NHL in his career.
The news broke in the wake of the Canadiens placing forward Alexander Semin on waivers, and placing Semin on unconditional release waivers for the purpose of a mutual contract termination just a day after he cleared. At the time of the call up, Hudon had 20 points in 24 games for the IceCaps and was 12th overall in AHL scoring at the time of the call-up.
Hudon was drafted by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL as the sixth overall pick of the 2010 QMJHL draft. In his first season with the Sagueneens, Hudon had 23 goals and 37 assists for 60 points in 63 games, a season in which he added nine points in six playoff games. Hudon was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team, had the most assists by a rookie, was named the QMJHL’s Rookie of the year and won the Michel Bergeron Trophy (offensive rookie of the year.) His first season in the QMJHL was a very strong one and he set the bar quite high for his second season.
In Hudon’s second season in the QMJHL, he scored 25 goals and added 41 assists for 66 points in 59 games, eclipsing his career high set the year before. His Sagueneens made a deep run in the playoffs but ultimately lost to Nathan Beaulieu and the St.John’s SeaDogs in the third round of the QMJHL playoffs. Hudon had 11 points in those 18 playoff games.
Hudon’s post-NHL draft season started off with a bang as he was named as the captain of Chicoutimi. He had 30 goals and 41 assists for 71 points in 56 games. However his Sagueneens did not make the playoffs and that’s when he got his first taste of the professional game. Hudon played in nine games with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens AHL affiliate, where he had three points.
Hudon’s final season in the QMJHL saw him continue as the captain of the Sagueneens for half the season before being traded to Baie-Comeau Drakkar as they were contending and the Sagueneens were not. He had 26 goals and 50 assists for 76 points in 57 games. Hudon saw his point totals increase every year.
Hudon has represented Canada on more then one occasion. He captained the Canada Quebec U17 team in 2010-11 where he had 11 points in six games at the WHC-17. He also that year played for Team Canada’s U18 team at the WJC-18 where he played in seven games but only had one point. Hudon last represented Canada on the international level with Team Canada’s U20 team in 2013-14 at the WJC-20 where he played in seven games and had two points.
Hudon played his first full season in the AHL in 2014-15 with the Hamilton Bulldogs where he was among the best players on the team. The Canadiens felt it would be best for his development if he played the entire season in the AHL, which has proven to be a smart move. Hudon was able to work on his all-around game and really fine-tuned his defensive play which has always been a strong suit for him.
In 75 games, Hudon had 19 goals and 38 assists for 57 points playing with fellow first year professional Daniel Carr. Hudon was named the AHL’s Rookie of the month for November, was selected to the AHL All-Star Game and was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.
This season he has added 20 points in 24 games. In Hudon’s AHL career he has played in 108 games, notching 30 goals and assisting on 50 more for a total of 80 points. He has a per game average of 0.74 points with 96 penalty minutes and a plus-6 rating.
Scouting Report (from The Hockey News)
Assets: Is a natural with the puck, and around the opposing goal. Already displays some leadership skills and puts points on the board at lower levels.
Flaws: Doesn’t have ideal size for the National Hockey League, so he may face an uphill battle trying to become a top-six forward at the highest level.
Career Potential: Diminutive but talented scoring winger with some upside.
Talent Analysis (from Hockey’s Future)
“Known as a prolific scorer in the QMJHL, Hudon’s first full season in the AHL was a smooth transition. He continues to be a scoring threat, utilizing his mix of crafty stick-work and ability to manoeuvre around traffic with ease. His array of different shots makes it hard for goaltenders to figure him out, and his ability to change speeds creates openings for both himself and his linemates. His defensive game has improved as well, making him a more dynamic, two-way player who is just as defensively responsible. His character and leadership qualities put his stock over the top.”
Outlook (My view)
Charles Hudon reminds me a lot of Tomas Plekanec when he was younger. Hudon is a smaller stature player who is a quiet, strong leader, is very strong defensively and offensively, possesses great vision, has good character and is a very good all-around player.
Similar to Plekanec who used to play the point on the power-play a few years back, Hudon currently plays that role with the IceCaps and did with the team last year as well. Hudon is relied upon by coach Lefebvre in all situations.
Hudon is a player Therrien will love to use and a player that Habs fans will really appreciate. He gives 100 per cent on every shift. He possesses all the tools to become a very strong versatile two-way player in the NHL.
He will get his first chance to play in the NHL on Thursday night. Hudon joins Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr, Christian Thomas and Dustin Tokarski on the Canadiens roster as players who started the season with the IceCaps. Roster spots have opened up given the rash of recent injuries to Brendan Gallagher, Torrey Mitchell, Devante Smith-Pelly, Carey Price and the departure of Alex Semin.
Hudon’s call-up speaks to the depth the Canadiens have this season. Much of the credit goes to GM Marc Bergevin for preaching patience with the youngsters. Hudon is one of the Canadiens most NHL-ready prospects. More seasoning in the AHL never hurts but now that Hudon has his chance in the NHL, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he runs away with it.