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Canadiens Analysis

Early Look At The Potential Montreal Canadiens Forward Lineup



Montreal Canadiens coach St-Louis

Now that the Montreal Canadiens have re-signed centre Sean Monahan, we’re starting to get a better idea of the roster Kent Hughes intends to ice on opening day next season.

You’d be hard-pressed to argue the Canadiens have a wealth of talent down the middle, but if the team stays healthy they’ll finally have the centre depth they planned on having last season.


Leading the charge is captain Nick Suzuki, who set a career-high in points last season by earning 66 points in 82 games. He was the only Canadiens player to suit up for every game on the schedule, and consequently, was the player that opposing teams focused on shutting down the most.

Following Suzuki closely is the 22-year-old former Blackhawks centre, Kirby Dach.

Dach spent some time on the wing last season, showing fantastic chemistry alongside Suzuki and Cole Caufield, but there are healthy odds he ends up playing down the middle in 2023-24. The team wants Dach to be a centre, and Dach himself has expressed interest in returning to his natural position.

Monahan slots in as the third most valuable centre, though he too spent some time playing on the wing with Canandiens’ first line. Monahan was the only other player in the lineup that enjoyed solid underlying numbers when playing with Caufield and Suzuki.

And finally, there’s somewhat of a logjam when it comes to the fourth-line centre. Jake Evans is the most likely candidate to fill that spot, not only because his cap hit ($1.7 million) is much easier to digest than Christian Dvorak’s ($4.45 million), but also because he’s better suited for a role that involves bringing energy to the lineup.

Dvorak is clearly the odd man out, though given the team’s long list of recent injuries, trading him before his modified no-trade clause kicks in on July 1st may not be the wisest approach. Dvorak is also capable of playing on the left wing, which adds a few more options to his potential usage by head coach Martin St-Louis.

Left Wing

Elite sniper Cole Caufield leads the charge, armed with one of the best 5v5 goals per 60 ratios in the NHL and a brand new eight-year contract extension that will pay him $7.85 million per season.

After Caufield, things get a little thin on the left side, though it should be noted that players like Rem Pitlick, Michael Pezzetta, Christian Dvorak, and Josh Anderson are all capable of playing on both the right and left wings.

But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on players who are most likely to end up on the left side, including Juraj Slafkosvky, Mike Hoffman, and Michael Pezzetta. It should be noted that Hoffman was one of the many wingers played on both sides last season.

Ideally, Slafkovsky will be given top six minutes next season, especially since there will be much less competition for the precious ice time on the left side, though we must keep in mind that Rafael Harvey-Pinard has not yet signed an extension. Once that takes place, Harvey-Pinard will be in the running for a top 9 assignment.

Right Wing

Power forward Josh Anderson stands out as the best option on the right side, followed by veteran Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia, and tweener Rem Pitlick.

Again, the vast majority of the current Canadiens wingers can play on both sides, so we can expect a lot of movement within the lineup, but for now,  here’s an early stab at the potential forward lineup for the Montreal Canadiens, which is quite similar to the lineup they iced last season.

Of course, it’s still very early. Things can and probably will change. But for now, we have a decent grasp of the forward depth head coach Martin St-Louis will have to work with next season.

Projected 2023-24 Montreal Canadiens Forward Lineup

Cole Caufield – Nick Suzuki – Josh Anderson

Juraj Slafkovsky – Kirby Dach – Brendan Gallagher

Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Sean Monahan – Mike Hoffman

Michael Pezzetta – Jake Evans – Christian Dvorak

Extras: Joel Armia, Jesse Ylonen.