Montreal Canadiens Player of the Month: Max Domi
He was traded for a player who many believed still had a lot of untapped potential, and therefore the initial reaction to Max Domi’s arrival in the organization was mixed. His work ethic was undeniable and his history suggested he could be a good setup man, but his personal offensive production was an area of concern.
He has been playing in a centre role since the (suspension-abbreviated) pre-season after spending much of his short NHL career on the wing. After a few failed experiments attempting to convert wingers to centremen, Domi immediately took to the new role, and has been performing better than even the most optimistic projections.
Through just a single month of the NHL season, Domi has already notched five goals after putting up just nine in each of the previous two seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. His playmaking skill is still a main feature of his game, with six assists in 10 matches. The result is a team-leading 11 points.
Domi may not maintain that better-than-a-point-per-game pace for the entire season, but he’s showing a lot more than what many thought he had to give. He has quickly established himself as key cog in the Canadiens’ offence, and should only become more comfortable.
Laval Rocket Player of the Month: Kenny Agostino
Brought into Laval to serve as a replacement for Chris Terry, Kenny Agostino has performed that role admirably through the opening month of the AHL season. With nine points in 10 games, he’s pacing a Rocket offence that is racking up scoring chances in every single game they play. Perhaps none of his goals will be prettier than the one he scored against Springfield on an end-to-end rush.
Agostino is a staple in Laval’s top six and the focal point of their power play, and he’s rewarding Joël Bouchard’s faith in him within those roles. He’s shown to be more than just a big-shot weapon to feed the puck to, with his ability to carry the puck making him a threat at both ends of the ice.
Les Canadiennes Player of the Month: Jill Saulnier
On a team with Marie-Philip Poulin, Hilary Knight, and Mélodie Daoust, Jill Saulnier — the only player of the four acquired over the summer — flew under the radar. She is no longer going unnoticed. Playing on a line with Knight and either Sarah Lefort or Katia Clement-Heydra, Saulnier established herself as an elite talent.
She leads the entire CWHL in scoring with three goals and five assists in six games, and, unlike her closest competitors, did it against some of the best teams in the CWHL.
Her speed has been a huge asset. When she created her own opportunities, she doesn’t miss. She didn’t simply ride the coattails of her talented teammates, she made clear that she is among the best in the world.
Saulnier had points on the penalty kill and on the power play, and she wasn’t even on the top unit. However, that may change if she keeps playing the way that she has been. It’s hard to pick just five players from the skilled roster to put on the first unit, but Saulnier is one of two Olympians (with Lauriane Rougeau) on a unit that is the best PP2 in the league.
If people hadn’t heard of Saulnier through the Olympics, by 2022 she will be a household name. As if her month couldn’t get any better than leading the team she dreamed of playing for, earlier this week Hockey Canada announced that the 2020 IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championship will be played in her home province of Nova Scotia with games in Halifax and Truro.
European Prospect of the Month: Alexander Romanov
The Tsar has played 11 games in KHL this month and over that stretch he was part of one loss, recorded his first professional point (an assist), a +6 rating, and has played an average of 10:51 per game.
He was selected for the Canada-Russia series starting on November 5 in Canada, and he will have all eyes on him during those games. Romanov was also selected as Rookie of the Week in the KHL for the second week in October.
Александр Романов признан лучшим новичком на 6-й игровой неделе @khl
Саша одержал вместе с командой две победы при показателе полезности (+1) и отметился голевой передачей, проводя на льду в среднем 14 минут 39 секунд. pic.twitter.com/STE3LzehkR
— ХК ЦСКА Москва (@hccska) October 15, 2018
While the defender hasn’t put up many points, his stalwart defensive play, overall confidence and maturity have stood out as CSKA has taken the top spot of the standings in the Western Conference.
North American Prospect of the Month: Nick Suzuki
In 11 games in October, Nick Suzuki managed to score seven goals and add nine more assists for 16 points. But it’s not necessarily the production that made this stretch of games impressive for him — he has the potential for even more offensive output — but the way he got on the scoresheet. It seems like every time Suzuki touches the puck something happens. He showed his playmaking abilities on many occasions, and above that, demonstrated his talent to make OHL goalies’ lives very difficult around the league.
It’s clear Suzuki has a great shot, but it seems to be a level above his previous skill recently with his usage of deception. Plus, he scored many of his goals against set netminders who were waiting for his release. It didn’t matter. He still beat them cleanly with precise and powerful shots.
Added to his play with the puck, Suzuki also showed that he can be a more-than-useful player away from it. He has been used in all situations for Owen Sound and his on-ice success often started from his defensive play.
Overall, the prospect has a keen talent to recognize opportunities, and his ability to consistently be a step ahead of the play with and without the puck has earned him this nomination.