Hudon, 25, played 32 games last season, scoring three goals and adding two assists along with a minus-9 rating and 16 penalty minutes.
Charles Hudon figured his days with the Canadiens might have been over at the end of last season. Hudon even had tears in his eyes when he met with the media as players packed up their bags at the team’s Brossard practice facility after missing the playoffs for the second straight year.
Hudon only played in 32 games last season, posting 3-2-5 totals and a minus-9 rating while averaging 11:40 of ice time. Hudon did not dress for any of the last 22 games and played in only two of the last 27. The last game Hudon played in was on Feb. 19, when the Canadiens beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 at the Bell Centre and he was held pointless in only 8:59 of ice time. Hudon didn’t even dress for the final game of the regular season, a 6-5 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre that was meaningless because the Canadiens had been eliminated from playoff contention the night before.
On Friday, the Canadiens signed Hudon to a one-year, US$800,000 one-way contract, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the 25-year-old forward has a future with the team. It doesn’t look like the Canadiens will have a spot for Hudon among their top 12 forwards, so there’s a good chance he will start next season with the AHL’s Laval Rocket or get traded.
During a conference call Friday, Hudon didn’t deny that his agent, Allain Roy, asked Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to try to trade him last season.
“That’s part of the game,” Hudon said. “When someone isn’t doing great or stuff like that, for sure the agent wants to do some movement and stuff like that. Same as me. But my focus was to play hockey. Whichever team it was … the Montreal Canadiens, I want to be part of that team. But that was before. Now, we’re just focusing on today.”
The new contract means Hudon, who was a restricted free agent, avoids a salary arbitration hearing that was set for Aug. 2. He also receives a raise from the $650,000 he earned last season.
“I was very frustrated,” Hudon said about not playing last season. “More coming back to see my family and not be the same attitude and stuff like that. It was really frustrating, but that’s part of hockey. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. Right now, I’m just focusing on the future and what’s going on with me. I’m a hockey player, I want to play hockey. So that’s why we didn’t want to go to arbitration. So I just want to be part of a team, part of an organization, and I want to play hockey. Right now, it’s the Montreal Canadiens, but I’m really happy to at least get a contract for next season and see what’s going on for the next couple of months.”
The Canadiens will open the NHL regular season on Oct. 3 against the Hurricanes in Carolina and it will be interesting to see where Hudon is at that point.
The Canadiens selected Hudon in the fifth round (122nd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. In 110 career regular-season games with the Canadiens, he has 13-26-39 totals.
With Hudon’s signing, the Canadiens have 25 players under contract for next season with $4.044 million remaining in salary-cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.
The only unsigned restricted free agent left for the Canadiens is forward Mike McCarron, who spent last season in Laval and posted 7-14-21 totals in 32 games with the Rocket before undergoing shoulder surgery. The Canadiens selected McCarron in the first round (25th overall) at the 2013 NHL Draft. In 69 career games with the Canadiens, the 24-year-old has 2-6-8 totals.