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The Habs exceeded expectations of many through the first quarter of the season. Some players have raised the bar substantially in their play, while others have struggled. Here’s how we (and you) evaluated the forwards.

Players must have played in 5/21 games to receive a grade.

Nick Suzuki

Fan Vote Average: 9.2, Writer Vote Average: 9.1

Suzuki has raised his play substantially from last year, continuing the progress he’s made every year as a Hab. Offensively he’s making the big plays when the team needs it and is leading the team in points. Defensively is perhaps where he has made the most progress this year. After finishing last year seventh-worst in the NHL in terms of plus/minus, at the end of the first quarter this year, Suzuki was a +3. While he’s still getting beat more often than a first-line centre should be, he’s no longer a defensive liability. If he continues to improve this year and beyond he’ll cement his place as a top-line centre in the league.

Stats: 21 GP, 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 46 shots, 20:40 ATOI

Cole Caufield

Fan Vote Average: 8.9, Writer Vote Average: 8.8

Caufield is doing what he does best – and that’s scoring goals as he led the team in that department. Through the first quarter, he also addressed a deficiency from last year in terms of his consistency. He didn’t go more than two games without scoring a goal and has registered shots on goal in every game except one. In the eye test, he’s been offensively dangerous every game. If Caufield can produce consistently throughout the year, he’ll have an impressive season just in time for his next contract.

Stats: 21 GP, 12 goals, 9 assists, 21 points, even rating, 0 PIMS, 78 shots, 18:05 ATOI

Kirby Dach

Fan Vote Average: 8.4, Writer Vote Average: 8.1

Dach started out the season with only three points in his first eight games while struggling at times in the centre position, certainly in the faceoffs. But overall, while he wasn’t an offensive threat during this stretch, he played solid hockey contributing to team success. However, it was a completely different story since Dach was promoted – albeit onto the wing – on the top line with Suzuki and Caufield. In those 13 games, Dach scored three goals and 11 assists. And Dach wasn’t just riding the coat tails of Suzuki and Caufield either. He was driving the play, creating turnovers, and making smart plays with and without the puck.

Stats: 21 GP, 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points, +1 rating, 12 PIMS, 33 shots, 16:48 ATOI

Sean Monahan

Fan Vote Average: 7.7, Writer Vote Average: 7.6

Monahan has turned back the clock with his play and has settled into the 2C position. Chemistry with his linemates hasn’t always been there but that’s not due to Monahan’s performance. He’s taken some of the heat off Suzuki and Dvorak by often lining up against the top line from the opposing team. Coming from offseason surgery it was hard to predict what to expect from Monahan, but he’s been a pleasant surprise thus far. As he continues to work through his recovery and establish chemistry with his new team the results are likely to improve through the rest of the season.

Stats: 21 GP, 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points, -5 rating, 16 PIMS, 48 shots, 17:21 ATOI

Mike Hoffman

Fan Vote Average: 7.7, Writer Vote Average: 7.6

Hoffman started off slow scoring only two points in his first 10 games. But we’ve seen things improve as he had six points in his last seven contests to close out the quarter. While he has still made a few defensive gaffes, he’s also made some strong defensive plays showing that he’s not as one-dimensional as he used to be. He was a plus player in the quarter with virtually all of his points coming at even strength.

Stats: 16 GP, 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points, +3 rating, 8 PIMS, 34 shots, 14:03 ATOI

Christian Dvorak

Fan Vote Average: 6.2, Writer Vote Average: 6.3

Dvorak was quiet through most games in this stretch. Playing in the 3C position, he has shown good defensive awareness and has been solid in the faceoff (55% winning in Q1) but was otherwise invisible on the scoresheet. He played with Gallagher for most of the quarter with a rotating trial of left wingers. He’s on track to register around 40 points on the season, which is just about his career average. This is pretty much what to expect from Dvorak.

Stats: 21 GP, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, -1 rating, 0 PIMS, 30 shots, 16:10 ATOI

Josh Anderson

Fan Vote Average: 5.9, Writer Vote Average: 5.6

Josh Anderson continued to play his hard-driving fast-paced game. He’s hard on the forecheck and uses his speed up the wing well at times. Unfortunately, he doesn’t capitalize on many of his great scoring opportunities. There’s so much talent and potential that it is somewhat frustrating to not see more offensive success from him. Still, he’s a valuable winger that can play up and down the lineup and has a knack for coming up with big goals. Two of his five goals in this stretch were game-winners.

Stats: 19 GP, 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points, -2 rating, 23 PIMS, 41 shots, 14:43 ATOI

Juraj Slafkovsky

Fan Vote Average: 5.6, Writer Vote Average: 4.8

Mostly playing in the bottom six logging around 11 minutes per game, Juraj has struggled. Occasionally he’s made some nice plays, but those are too often surrounded by turnovers and being stripped of the puck or at other times just being invisible. Despite Habs leadership communicating that they don’t want to see him playing fourth-line minutes, Juraj had 16 games with the big club in that role. This is a head-scratcher as to why he’s still with the team and not playing 18-20 minutes a night with Laval.

Stats: 16 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, -2 rating, 23 PIMS, 20 shots, 10:58 ATOI

Brendan Gallagher

Fan Vote Average: 5.4, Writer Vote Average: 5.1

Gallagher was his usual self giving 100% every shift of every game. At the cutoff, he was on pace for 12 goals/20 assists which is an improvement upon his dreadful 2021-2022 season but still nowhere close to his career averages (24 goals/24 assists). I think this is just more of a reflection of superior chemistry and top-line minutes the Danault-Tatar-Gallagher line had compared to his linemates now. Playing on the third line won’t provide Gallagher the same type of opportunities as a top-six forward; so as long as this continues, it’s likely unreasonable to expect Gallagher to produce near his career averages.

Stats: 21 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, -3 rating, 10 PIMS, 49 shots, 14:28 ATOI

Jonathan Drouin

Fan Vote Average: 3.2, Writer Vote Average: 2.1

With only four assists in 12 games before getting injured, Drouin was off to one of the worst starts in his career. His uninspiring play, defensive lapses, and other miscues suggest that his heart might not be in it anymore. At some point, it might be better to call up an AHL player and give them the chance than to continue with what is obviously a bad fit.

Stats: 12 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, -4 rating, 0 PIMS, 11 shots, 13:27 ATOI

Evgenii Dadonov

Fan Vote Average: 3.1, Writer Vote Average 3.0

This is another winger who showed anything but effort through the first quarter of the season. With only two points and a minus 7, Dadonov is on pace to record his worst season ever. This does not bode well for him in his contract year. His play is uninspiring and is a complete liability on the ice, dragging down his linemates. Similar to Drouin, either Dadonov starts to play like an NHLer, or they need to move him off the team.

Stats: 17 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, -8 rating, 6 PIMS, 21 shots, 13:45 ATOI

Jake Evans

Fan Vote Average: 4.9, Writer Vote Average: 3.8

Evans has finally settled into a full-time centre position in the 4C slot instead of rotating between wing and centre as in previous years. He did well on faceoffs winning over 53% in the quarter and has been starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone taking some of the pressure off the other lines. But Evans struggled offensively and is being exposed with too many soft giveaways. While he’s not being counted on to provide offence, his line needs to tighten up defensively and start applying pressure on the forecheck more consistently. Putting in a goal every few games would be a welcome addition.

Stats: 21 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -7 rating, 9 PIMS, 22 shots, 13:51 ATOI

Joel Armia

Fan Vote Average: 3.4, Writer Vote Average: 2.6

Armia has been another player using his invisibility cloak. Supposedly in the nine games he played in this stretch, he was on the ice for over 14 minutes on average, but it’s hard to believe. He had 16 shots on goal but that’s the only positive stat Armia has. Everything else was zeros or negatives. The Habs need more from Armia.

Stats: 10 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -3 rating, 2 PIMS, 18 shots, 14:54 ATOI

Michael Pezzetta

Fan Vote Average: 4.0, Writer Vote Average: 3.6

Pezzetta is the ultimate team guy. He’s dropping the gloves when no one else wants to against far bigger opponents. He’s bringing the drive and energy whenever he’s on the ice. This is what we should expect from Pezzetta and he’s delivered. If he forechecks hard, throws some good bodychecks, or draws a penalty that’s a plus in my books.

Stats: 8 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -2 rating, 7 PIMS, 11 shots, 8:43 ATOI

Rem Pitlick

Fan Vote Average: 3.0, Writer Vote Average: 2.5

Pitlick had a tough time sticking in the lineup and was sent down to the AHL at one point after clearing waivers. Expecting him to continue his performance from last year was not reasonable but he’s still struggling to have any impact on the game. As some veterans (Drouin, Dadonov) get moved out this will hopefully give younger players like Pitlick an opportunity to play meaningful minutes.

Stats: 7 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -2 rating, 8 PIMS, 3 shots, 12:39 ATOI