Canadiens Centre Depth Promising, Potentially Solidified By Draft
With the Montreal Canadiens’ young centres showing promising signs this season, the Habs could finally solidify the position once and for all this summer.
Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach have been two of the Canadiens’ best players all season, but they clearly need reinforcements.
Both have played some important hockey for the team this season, and, with the loss of Cole Caufield for the rest of the season, they’ll be expected to step up even more.
Although the situation isn’t ideal, with the Canadiens littered with injuries from top to bottom, Suzuki and Dach have shown promising signs and have powered through some serious adversity.
Suzuki has been relied upon heavily, with Martin St-Louis running an 11-7 formation and putting Suzuki out for an average of 22 minutes per game in the month of January.
The Canadiens captain may have only potted 8 points in 13 games in January, but, he was utilized in every possible situation and will only be better for it.
As for Dach, he saw his usage shoot up just as quickly as his quality of play did in the month of January.
With injuries forcing the Canadiens to break up their productive top line, Dach seized the opportunity to show that he is ready to assume the second-line centre role he was acquired to fill.
Dach stepped up to support Suzuki when it mattered most, giving the Canadiens a solid 1-2 punch that allowed them to keep up with some of the more potent teams in the NHL this season, like the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Not only did Dach double his goal totals in January, going from five goals on the season to 11, but he also showed notable improvement in the faceoff circle with a 50.8% success rate in January.
Must Read: Kirby Dach Gamble Proving Kent Hughes Right
If this past month taught us all one thing, it’s that the Canadiens have a good future up the middle.
That being said, the Canadiens have the opportunity this summer to turn a position that has long been its Achilles Heel into an organizational strength.
Montreal Canadiens Preparing For The Future
At the 2022 NHL Draft, the Canadiens managed to bolster their organizational depth chart quite when it came to the centre position.
Within a matter of 24 hours, the Canadiens added Kirby Dach to the fold and drafted Owen Beck, who joined Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans and Riley Kidney as legitimate NHL options down the middle.
With Dvorak’s future up in the air and Evans settling into the 4th-line centre spot, the Canadiens needed to pump some talent into one of the most crucial positions in hockey; and that’s what they did.
Now, with the 2023 NHL Draft coming up, they can solidify their centre depth for years to come, as the top of the class has quite a few interesting centres to choose from.
Although it would be nice for the Canadiens to win the NHL Draft Lottery and select one of Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli, there are other intriguing options in case things don’t work out.
A few names to keep in mind are players like Will Smith, Oliver Moore and Dalibor Dvorsky.
Will Smith is turning heads right now with the United States Development team, as his combination of elite hockey IQ and exceptional skating makes him a sure-fire top-10 pick for this June’s draft.
He plays a high-octane style of hockey that projects well to the NHL game, as he makes his own space and can create a lot out of nothing.
Grip it and rip it! 🚨
Will Smith makes it 6-1 USA!#USAvsMU pic.twitter.com/7Nf0oK75Wi
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) January 8, 2023
Oliver Moore is a speedy and crafty centreman with devastating shooting ability.
He’s one of the best skaters in the entire draft and creates more of his offence off the rush; combining soft hands with dynamic processing speed for high-octane, offensive chance generation.
Shorthanded? No problem!
What a beauty from Moore to Guzzo 🚨#USAvsYNG pic.twitter.com/hCl3pwFSBs
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) November 24, 2022
Dvorsky, another talented centre in this draft pegged to be a top-six player in the NHL, is a serious option for the Montreal Canadiens. First and foremost, Dvorsky is a very good friend and a former linemate of Canadiens prospects Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar.
But most of all, he’s a dependable, sturdy, left-shot centre that could be a perfect complement to Suzuki and Dach down the line. He has a very high floor in terms of potential, but Button believes he has the potential to be a high-end 2nd line centre.
Dalibor Dvorský (#2023NHLDraft) snipes his first goal of the tournament to tie this game at 2-2 for 🇸🇰 Slovakia 🇸🇰
Maxim Štrbák (2023) and Peter Repčík the assists on the play.
🎥 : @TSN_Sports pic.twitter.com/2GN4VzPmDK
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) December 28, 2022
All three are considered top six centres in the making that could give head coach Martin St-Louis far more options down the road, and allow the Canadiens to shift some players from centre to wing, rather than being forced to do the opposite.
Selecting any of those players would give the Canadiens the most enviable centre depth they’ve had in decades and could allow them to build a winning team from the middle, rather than from the net out, as they have for so long.
NHL Betting odds have these three ranked extremely high as probable picks in the Canadiens’ range at the moment. For more tips on how to make money with sports betting, check out this link.
Considering Dach’s breakout so far, and the potential to add 1 or 2 more centres at the draft, would we be putting ourselves out of the running to sign Dubois in 2024? If we’re completely loaded down the middle do we sign a free agent francophone who has made it clear he actually wants to play for his hometown team? With that bit of knowledge, is there any chance the Habs look at wingers instead at the top end of the draft? I know it’s putting the cart before the horse, but it should be something that is at least considered when looking long term and building up the franchise. I have always been of the opinion that “I’ll believe it when I see it” with respect to the Dubois rumours. Having Suzuki and Dach already here, adding Dubois was already going to be iffy, and that’s without even considering all the centres we have in the pipeline already. Adding 2 more at this year’s draft would complicate the matter even further. To think this franchise could have too many quality centres is mind boggling when you consider how bare the cupboards have been for the last 20+ years. But it’s a good problem to have.
Gorton in his rebuilds like’s Size and Skill taking the best avaible guy with size in all his 1st round selections in NYR even when they needed Centers.Hughes seems to be building the same way but isnt afraid to choose a smaller player if the skill level is that signifigant as seen in Hutson.
IMO i think if we dont win Bedard but get a top 3 pick and either CHI or NYI are left out of the top 3, i could see MTL trading down to acquire their picks in the late 1st round assuming Horvat makes NYI a playoff team again(2pts out of last wildcard with 3 games more played so doable)
I believe MTL would be focused on Michkov and if he’s expected to fall in the draft because of his contract til 2026 in the KHL Hughes can trade down. We’re ok with waiting for him as it just means he’ll join a young team with depth in every position putting us over as a perenial contender. He’s a legit Elite level guy the only one truly even close to Bedards level and despite the wait could be the steal of the draft.
Umm most true Centres can play wing..Wingers playing C not so much.You can never have too many Centre’s.
Yep. Very aware of that. That’s why I wrote “But it’s a good problem to have” Just wondering if we need to overload the position like our LD currently is. LD can also play RD, but we still have too many of them. I’d rather swing for the fences and offer both picks + Anderson to whatever team wins the lottery and see if they bite.
If we keep Caufield/Suzuki/Dach together, I could see Slafkovsky/Dubois/MTL 2023 1st-round pick completing the top-6 where said pick could be Bedard, Michkov, Smith or Sale. With 3 of Beck, Farrell, Heineman, Kidney, Mesar and Roy likely to develop in good top-9 forwards, Anderson and Dvorak will become expendable. With Evans, Harvey-Pinard, Pezzetta, Pitlick and Ylönen, we already have our 4th line. There are plenty of prospects left out if some of these do not develop as we hope. Internal competition will ultimately decide who will make the future roster, who will be traded and who will simply fade away in our memories. FLO 2023 1st-round pick should be a top prospect – likely a RHD or a center – and we should expect the MTL 2024 1st-round pick to be also a top prospect. Yes, many of our current prospects will not have a long career in Montreal simply because there are only 23 roster positions. The best should make a team that we will have fun watching.
I just wonder if Dach continues his progression and becomes a top fight centre, if there would still be a desire to go after Dubois. I know he gels with Suzuki & Caufield, but Dach also seems to make everyone he plays with better too. We’ll definitely have lots of options.