Fresh Start Up North

What can Habs fans expect from its new center, Christian Dvorak?

One in, one out

What’s Happening: Last week, Montreal Canadiens General Manager, Marc Bergevin, decided that the 1-year, $6.1 million offer sheet tendered to Jesperi Kotkaniemi by the Carolina Hurricanes was too rich for his blood. As a result, he declined to match the offer sheet and instead, took the compensation of a future 1st and 3rd-round pick. Bergevin was quick to weaponize these newly minted assets by quickly flipping the 1st-round pick along with a 2nd-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for their number one center, Christian Dvorak.

For the Canadiens, it was a shrewd move to fill the void left by Kotkaniemi’s departure and one that may benefit them for the years ahead. Not only do the Canadiens not have to pay Kotkaniemi a salary that is likely two-to-three times what he’s actually worth right now, but they were able to quickly acquire a replacement center who is arguably the better player of the two, right now.

Who is Christian Dvorak? You’d be forgiven if you didn’t pay that much attention to the Coyotes or their players as their fan base probably pays less attention to their team. But if you were unfamiliar with Dvorak, he’s blossomed into an effective player for the Coyotes and one that has been heavily relied on the past few seasons. He is a former 2nd-round draft pick of the Coyotes, and ever since coming into the league during the 2016-17 season, his on-ice responsibilities have gradually increased.

While he has yet to top the 40-point mark yet in his NHL career, he has also not played with a crop of offensive-minded wingers just yet. Over the past few seasons and with the departure of Max Domi a few years ago, Dvorak has been a reliable two-way center for the Coyotes. He has logged big minutes on the powerplay and on the penalty kill and is essentially used in all situations. 

What to Expect: While projections are always hard to forecast, Dvorak should expect to have a bright future with the Canadiens. Including this upcoming season, Dvorak is signed for another four years at an AAV of $4.45 million. Dvorak can easily outplay the remainder of this contract with the Canadiens and should expect to see better offensive opportunities with the Habs.

The Habs have a more dynamic forward group than the Coyotes, and Dvorak will benefit from playing with gamebreakers like Cole Caufield and Mike Hoffman. He will likely slot behind Nick Suzuki and start the season as the Habs’ 2nd-line center. However, his reputation for being a strong, two-way center, will also enable him to play in all situations in Montreal, too. Habs fans can expect Dvorak to play in a matchup role for them, as his defensive prowess will help Nick Suzuki to unlock his full offensive potential. The Canadiens season is looking brighter thanks to this shrewd trade conducted by Bergevin choosing not to gamble and overpay on an unknown product in Kotkaniemi.

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