Christian Dvorak wasn’t realistically on Montreal’s radar until Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed his offer sheet and went to Carolina. But now that he’s with the Canadiens, there should be optimism for him to improve on his output in Arizona.
While Dvorak will understandably be linked as Kotkaniemi’s replacement, Dvorak was used in a similar role as Phillip Danault was last season. He played against top opposing lines, took a regular shift on the penalty kill, and was used as a faceoff specialist (actually taking more draws than Danault).
From an offensive standpoint, Dvorak got off to a solid start offensively, notching 13 points over his first 12 games. However, Arizona’s offensive production cratered as the season went on and that’s what happened to Dvorak as well as he managed just four points in his next 22 contests before finishing on a better note (8-6-14 in his last 23 games). The end result was enough to finish sixth on the team in scoring, a bit of a disappointing result considering he played more than any forward in Arizona although a lot of that time was in a checking role than an offensive one.
Season Stats: 56 GP, 17 goals, 14 assists, 31 points, -11 rating, 12 PIMS, 8 PPG, 4 GWG, 95 shots, 18:24 ATOI, 52.1% faceoffs
5 Year Averages
(The stats for 2019-20 and 2020-21 have been extrapolated to an 82-game rate.)
(Dvorak only played 20 games in 2018-19 which does skew this a little bit. His average offensive numbers without that season included are 80 GP, 19-21-40 including the extrapolation over the last two seasons.)
There aren’t many forwards who are effectively locked into their roles but Dvorak should be one of them. He’s probably not going to pass Nick Suzuki on the depth chart and he likely isn’t getting passed by Jake Evans or Ryan Poehling either. That puts the 25-year-old squarely on the second line. Jonathan Drouin and Josh Anderson have been his wingers early in training camp which would put Dvorak in more of an offensive-minded role at 5-on-5 than he played a year ago.
He logged heavy special teams minutes last season and that shouldn’t change here. Dvorak should play a role on one of the two power play units and when it comes to the penalty kill, he should be a prominent fixture there as well where he may very well wind up on the top group. Part of that will be due to his faceoff ability which is the best on the team so assuming that Dvorak is deployed similar to Danault on that front as well, he’ll be seeing plenty of late-game situational action as well.
As long as he stays healthy, Dvorak should be in line for a career year. He’s moving from a team where scoring was quite hard to come by to a team that should at least be in the middle of the pack for offence. His expected linemates are both question marks in terms of what they might be able to produce but those will likely change at times during the season.
Dvorak should be able to surpass the 40-point mark which would be a strong return in his first year with the team and a step up from the production from Danault and Kotkaniemi last season. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see his ATOI close to where Suzuki’s winds up being due to his likely situational usage. All in all, Dvorak should be a very important player for the Habs.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a very important player in a fantasy league. Dvorak is more of a 3C than a 2C in most leagues and he’s not a stat-stuffer either. He has a few more blocks than most forwards and his hits could jump up a bit playing 41 games in front of Bell Centre statisticians who are usually a bit generous in that department but that’s not enough to move him up in the rankings. In deeper leagues, he’s a mid-round pick with some upside while in shallower ones, Dvorak should be selected more towards the back.