It's been a bit of a whirlwind and busy summer for Charles Hudon and things won't get any slower with training camp just a few weeks away.
The fifth round, 122nd overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens in this summer's NHL Draft has gone from the excitement in Pittsburgh to training sessions and being immersed with Team Canada in the Canada-Russia Challenge.
The Alma, Quebec forward, who celebrated his 18th birthday by being drafted by the Canadiens, now finds himself as the only current Habs prospect that is in the mix for Team Canada's 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship team that will head to Ufa, Russia this winter. Taking part in the Challenge series, which is serving as an evaluation camp for Canada, he certainly is using the opportunity to make his mark.
And head coach Steve Spott likes what he sees. "He's the kind of player that does everything well," he said.
"He's always on the right side of the puck and he has great offensive instincts - a big steal in the draft for Montreal."
Hudon has been hard at work training this summer at the Canadiens practice facility in Brossard under the direction of team strength and conditioning coordinator Pierre Allard. He teams up regularly for workouts with Louis Leblanc, who has added some size himself this off-season. The experience gained through Team Canada's camp has been a bonus.
"It was a great experience to go to Russia for the first two games, both on and off the ice for what to expect," noted Hudon, who now finds himself fine-tuning some elements of his game on the advice of Canadiens management, including director of player procurement Trevor Timmins who has kept in touch.
His time with Team Canada has also allowed him to focus on some special teams work, which he hopes to excel at with the afforded ice-time he'll earn back with his junior team in Chicoutimi.
"I've had the chance to work on the power play and penalty kill, something I want to do a lot with Chicoutimi," he explained. "But I'll also learn here with Team Canada."
While a lot of hard work and training has filled his summer days, Hudon still has times where it hasn't fully sunk in that he has been drafted by the Canadiens. But he takes it all in stride.
"A few times I've signed some Canadiens hats for a few people or they recognize me," he said. "It's been fun with my family and they are proud of me."
While Hudon looks forward to skating with the Habs prospects this fall, he understands the process and is taking it one step at a time. With a great demeanour and attitude, he's on the right track, and could very well have the chance to shoot for gold with Team Canada in Russia this December, which would be nothing but a positive for the Canadiens and the prospect's future.