He’s not a perfect player. But in his second full season, Caufield has confirmed that he already belongs to the narrow circle of the most dangerous scorers in the NHL. Almost three months after he played his last game of the season, none of his teammates have equaled or surpassed his 26 goals. That says a lot about his importance in Montreal. It is good and will be for a long time.
His debut at the center was shaky, so he was moved to the right of Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. The trigger was obvious, and his transition to the center, later in the season, was all the more harmonious. The end of the course was frustrating for him, but Dach nevertheless had time to demonstrate why he had made recruiters dream so much. His way of using his size to generate attack is impressive. The future is flourishing.
Undoubtedly THE revelation of the season. As soon as he arrived, he had an impact. He was CH’s top scorer (14) after his recall in mid-January. We can expect that production to drop, after 24.1% of his shots were converted into goals – a disproportionate proportion. Nevertheless, he has proven to be a specialist in generating scoring chances. Its future seems undeniably to pass through Montreal and no longer through Laval.
We will have to wait for the Canadian to look better overall before deciding on the extent of the theft that Kent Hughes made by snatching Mike Matheson from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Montrealer nevertheless swallowed the minutes – almost 25 per game –, had the best offensive harvest of his career and maintained an unthinkable differential of 7. He instantly became the No. 1 defender of this team.
Samuel Montembeault’s statistics are not spectacular. However, maintaining an efficiency rate equal to or greater than the median of the circuit, as much at five against five (.919) as all phases of play combined (.903), is a feat. Especially when you know that the defense in front of him has been one of the most porous in the NHL. There is no longer any doubt that the Quebecer belongs to this league.
Another that statistics do not worship, but whose evaluation requires perspective. He is one of the most shot-blocking defensemen in the NHL, and one of the most shorthanded minutes. All season, he faced the best opposing lines. It had been seven years since his ice time had been this high. Acting as a big brother to the multiple rookies, he was the informal captain of defense. In short, a must.
In his first season as captain, he set career highs in goals (26) and points (66). He took the team on his shoulders, playing more than 21 minutes per game, which places him among the top 10 forwards in the NHL. He further maintained the same point-per-game production after Caufield’s injury (0.81) as before (0.8). The player par excellence of the season at CH.
He is not a monster of creativity in possession of the puck or a fine lacemaker around the net. And his empty passages are sometimes long. But Josh Anderson has been one of the club’s most productive strikers since the start of 2023. He has finally surpassed the 20-goal mark, a first for him since the 2018-2019 season.
The wait will not have been in vain. At 31, the Quebecer finally had the opportunity to make his mark in the NHL and find success there. His presence stabilized the fourth line, which took the opportunity to contribute to the attack. He himself scored 6 goals and amassed 14 points in 31 games after his recall in January, while doing a more than honest job defensively. It could well earn him a first one-way NHL contract.
Much better served on a third line than on a fourth, Evans has proven to be a safe bet in defensive mission, while offering a very drinkable contribution in attack – half a point per game since December. However, we cannot ignore his 2 points in 24 games at the start of the season. Slow starts are recurrent for him and, as he approaches the threshold of 200 games in the NHL, he will have to find more consistency.
Possibly the rookie par excellence for the Canadiens. His average usage of 20:31 was one of the highest among first-year guards in the entire NHL. In his professional debut, he was not spared and, in his 20s, he responded like a veteran. What keeps him from reaching the top group on this tally are his five-on-five defensive metrics. The eye test made him look good; numbers, much less. The potential, however, is enormous. A future star, even a future captain.
One of the most successful integrations among the club’s young players this season. Harris has seen his ice time fluctuate with his game and the needs of the club. Well served by the sobriety of his game, he continues his learning.
Undoubtedly the player whose absence was felt the most. His presence in the second line brought a stability that was never regained after he suffered a foot injury in early December. We never saw him again afterwards. Too bad for him, since he was spending the last year of his contract, and for the Habs, who had to distribute the work after his loss with more or less success.
His positioning and execution in defensive territory still requires work. However, within a large group of rookie players, he was able to show his uniqueness. His skating, his shooting and his offensive flair made many eyes widen. Above all, his robustness is unrivaled in this team. He quickly established himself as a feared opponent. An injury sustained during a fight, however, cost him the last months of the season.
He was sometimes imperial, sometimes bad, often correct, but nothing more. Jake Allen was expected to be a pillar for his team. However, injuries and an arid task behind a porous defense weighed on his performance. He nevertheless stole a few games. It will be necessary for the organization to question the number of matches that will be entrusted to it in the future.
You have to give Justin Barron his due credit. After being cut off from training camp, and after a difficult first recall, he regained his confidence and his composure. He struggled offensively and showed encouraging signs for the future. Defensively, however, he is very vulnerable. He is the regular defender against whom the opponent gets the most chances to score at five on five, despite the fact that he is involved in very few face-offs in defensive territory.
For the fourth year in a row, he played less than 80% of his team’s games. A fine attacking streak in February and March showed him at his best, but the final stretch of the season saw him return to a receding role. Barring a major surprise, his association with CH is clearly coming to an end.
He scored half of his goals after returning to action in March, redeeming his worrying start to the campaign somewhat. He continues to generate a lot of scoring chances, which is a positive. But will a production equivalent to thirty points over a full season justify his presence in the formation for a long time?
If a striker renowned for his scoring skills alone is producing at a rate of 17 goals per 82 games, what’s left? This is the question that we are entitled to ask ourselves about Mike Hoffman, fourth scorer in this 2022-2023 edition of the CH. His rare flashes of genius are largely clouded by the weakness of his decision-making in possession of the disc. He does not appear as a leader despite his status as dean.
Nice surprise that the contribution of this big guy, little known before the start of the season. His association with Jordan Harris, on a third duet, as well as an honest contribution in numerical inferiority allowed him to show off. At the end of the calendar, however, with increased tasks, it became frankly more difficult for the one whose, at 25, it was the first full season in the NHL.
Helped by an extraordinary skating stroke, Richard did quite well when called upon. He has not, however, yet demonstrated that he can play in the NHL with regularity.
After being limited to a meager 2 points in his first 11 games, the Finn found a nice cruising speed… before experiencing a slump and finding himself on the fourth line. His speed and the quality of his shot are his main assets. But does he belong to an NHL top 6? Not really. To a top 9? It’s not clear. Its role remains to be defined.
When he is sensational, he is not half so. But it happens so infrequently that it’s hard not to lose hope in this striker who, on paper, has everything to succeed. Martin St-Louis said recently that it was up to him to get his hands on “the best chair possible” at the next training camp. Hard to believe it will be anywhere other than a fourth line.
Including him in this category almost saddens us, because Dvorak found himself in an unenviable position. His wingers changed almost every night, he received heavy tasks in the absence of Sean Monahan and Kirby Dach, he missed the end of the calendar after having knee surgery… Nevertheless, the American, as dedicated as he is, he is not effective enough defensively for the missions entrusted to him. Jake Evans does the same job, and he probably does it better, at a fraction of his salary.
No defenseman who has played at least 500 five-on-five minutes this NHL season has conceded at a higher rate than Joel Edmundson (4.37 per 60 minutes). Once a symbol of reliability, now it is more vulnerable than ever in its zone. Given his injury history, his trade value may well have melted away in just a few months.
A “low risk, high potential” acquisition. The second helping never materialized. A few weeks ago, Martin St-Louis let a long embarrassed silence pass when a journalist asked him what attributes, besides his skating and his strong size, he recognized in the Russian. The chances are great that we will not see him again in Montreal.
His season was going nowhere before the arrival of Alex Belzile at the center of the fourth line. His new life was evident, but short-lived. He’s a beast in training, and he’s ultra-friendly. But his limitations on the ice are glaring. His physical game is not effective enough to make him a must.
An attacking attacker with very limited potential, coupled with a “deep” player with obvious defensive deficiencies. He would not break through the formation of any good team on the circuit.
His adaptation to the North American game was cut short by a knee injury that ended his season prematurely. His talent is evident, and his physical attributes are off the charts. However, he will have to learn to use them better. He’s got time: he was, by far, the youngest regular player in the NHL this season. However, he was shut out and posted a -12 rating in his last 15 games before forfeiting. Lots of work to do here.
An ordinary player who gave a helping hand to a poor team. We suspect that he was only passing through.
A veteran who never complains about his fate, who comes to work every day with a smile, despite his multiple exclusions from training, that’s worth gold. But on the ice, he is a drag on his club. It is hard to imagine him in the NHL next fall.