Montreal Canadiens Should Protect Charles Hudon with Final Spot

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With the Expansion draft just around the corner, the LWOS Habs writers have decided that  Montreal Canadiens should protect Charles Hudon with the last spot at forward. After going through the players eligible for the Expansion draft, it was determined that Hudon deserved the final spot.  Originally the spot seemed to be Alexander Radulov‘s for the taking. However having been left unsigned the Canadiens are better off using the spot on a signed player. Charles Hudon recently signed a two-year deal with the Canadiens that made it seem likely they want to give him a chance.

Unlike many of the prospects in the Habs system, Hudon has played three years of professional hockey in North America. The rule for the expansion draft is if a player has played two years or less in either the NHL or AHL, he is exempt. Therefore, many other highly touted prospects are completely exempt from expansion

Player Profile:

Name: Charles Hudon
Position: left wing/ Centre
Age:23
Height/Weight 5’10” 195 pounds
Cap Hit: $625K- Two years

Why the Canadiens Should Protect Charles Hudon

In terms of offensive ability, Hudon looks like he could be a long-term answer for the Habs that will be arriving sooner rather than later. He has adapted to the pro-game quite well, totaling two 25-plus goal seasons in each of the last two, including two 50-point campaigns.

He has proven that he can produce offensively in the NHL, Hudon has four assists in six NHL games. Despite the small sample, Hudon has left good impressions throughout the organization. His AHL numbers have been excellent, with 57 points in 75 games as a rookie, 53 in 67 games his second year, and 49 in 26 this year. He has put up 19, 28, and 27 goals in those seasons. This could have been the reason that he finally got his one way contract with the Habs for the upcoming season.

His defensive game while not excellent, is considered to be effective enough for the NHL level.

He also brings versatility that could allow him to play any forward position that he would need to fill.

Making An Argument for Hudon

There are other players such as a veteran like Tomas Plekanec who could protected instead. However, with Plekanec only scoring 28 points in 78 games last season, he may be losing his value. Next season, he is expected to count for $6 million against the salary cap (earning $5 million in actual salary), which is way too much for a player who scored only 28 points. Plekanec has been a full-time Canadiens forward since 2005. However, last season showed the he can no logner be the effective second line centre he had been previously.It could be time to move on from Plekanec. Leaving the Kladno native available gives the Habs the option to search for a younger more skilled option via trade or free agency.

While, Plekanec can still be effective at 34, he is coming closer to the end of his career. While, also coming off down year. However, at 23 Hudon’s career is just getting started.  It would be time for the Canadiens to move on from their once first line centre.

This also would allow Hudon a better chance to make the opening night roster. However, he has seemed ready for the past two seasons as he’s dominated the AHL scoring 28 and 27 goals respectively. It could be very risky to allow a player like Hudon to be exposed, especially when an expansion team will be looking to start out young.

The Habs should at least consider protecting the Alma native before deciding what to do with him. Losing him for nothing could be a terrible mistake while losing Plekanec creates some much needed cap room to help improve the team.

They Could Protect Hudon to Trade Him

If the Canadiens organization feels that the versatile young forward isn’t a fit, they could protect him to trade him. A young player like Hudon has value around the NHL. If the Canadiens are looking to improve their team, especially at center, throwing Hudon in a package will sweeten the deal.

However, the Canadiens really should give him a chance.  He could be the answer to the Canadiens recent scoring woes in the near future.

Conclusion

Although he’s goaless in his first six NHL games, he has the shooting ability to score and with consistent playing time will show this.  Last season he was brought misfortune when he injured his shoulder during his third game and he never got another opportunity.  At camp in September, Hudon should be hungry to get his spot on the NHL roster.

After three years of success, it is Hudon’s time to get a real chance.

Protected List 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie:

G: Carey Price (NMC)

D1: Jeff Petry (NMC)
D2: Shea Weber
D3: Jordie Benn

F1: Max Pacioretty
F2: Brendan Gallagher
F3: Alex Galchenyuk
F4: Phillip Danault
F5: Jonathan Drouin
F6: Paul Byron
F7: Charles Hudon

Expose:

Tomas Plekanec
Andrew Shaw
Alexei Emelin
Al Montoya

 

Main Photo via Getty Images

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