Fantasy Take: Habs Waste No Time in Acquiring Dvorak

Ian Gooding

2021-09-04

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes for a first-round pick in 2022 and a second-round pick in 2024.

This trade was announced mere moments after the Habs announced that they would not match Carolina's offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Fantasy Take), suggesting that Marc Bergevin had been planning this for the past week knowing that matching the offer sheet wouldn't be a wise investment of cap space.

Dvorak not only fills the Habs' need for a scoring center on the top two lines, but he also represents an upgrade on Kotkaniemi while providing strong two-way play that can help fill a role left by Phillip Danault. Dvorak will also help the Habs in the faceoff circle, as he led the Yotes in faceoffs (1062) while winning over half (52.1%) last season – something that Danault was good at.

Although Dvorak projects to provide the Habs with at least 20 goals, it might be premature to slot him in as a first-line center immediately. His career-high 0.55 PTS/GP would put him on pace for 45 points, which has a lot to do with a modest assist total. That number could improve with a better variety of linemates in Montreal and possibly more continuity as well. After being paired with Conor Garland during much of 2019-20, Dvorak was used with a grab bag of forwards of varying scoring abilities including Phil Kessel, Lawson Crouse, and Tyler Pitlick.

For a moment, it seemed like a few players on the Habs had an opportunity with Kotkaniemi leaving. Jonathan Drouin, who has been a bit of a forgotten man after missing the playoffs, could have moved back to the center position, but it's hard to say where he fits in now. Perhaps it will be on Dvorak's line. Ryan Poehling's chances of cracking the Habs' opening-day lineup remain uncertain, since Jake Evans and Cedric Paquette are other centers that could fill a bottom-6 role.

As for the Coyotes, they're amassing a ton of draft picks while running out of current bona fide NHL scorers. Beyond a potential top line/first-unit power play of Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, and Kessel, there's almost nothing to see. Whether he is ready or not, Barrett Hayton's chances of cracking the NHL roster have now improved. After being sent down to the AHL last season, he scored just 10 points in 26 games, but that was for a very poor AHL team. He will not nee