Five Fantasies to Fix the Habs – The Dvorak Fantasy

Segue Issue 22-06

February 18, 2022

This is the last in my series called Five Fantasies to Fix the Habs. The first four fantasies covered Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin. I also threw in an extra fantasy when news broke that Jeff Petry was on the market. Those articles (and many others) can be found at habather.wordpress.com.

For my final fantasy, I’m looking at Christian Dvorak.

Just a reminder that I’m calling them fantasies for a reason. I’m neither a GM nor an agent, so player valuation is not my forte. I rely on suggestions made by analysts and pundits to pin down the value of various players. Then I’ll make a fantasy proposal that I think will contribute to fixing the Habs.

In creating these fantasies I’m considering two things. First, what are the biggest needs for the Habs? In my view they should be targeting a centre prospect with top-6 potential, a right-handed defenceman with top-4 potential, or a pure goal scorer. Second, which teams need what the Habs are offering the most, and would have the assets to make the best offer?

Here’s looking at D-Vo.

The valuation…

In his February 10th 32 Thoughts article, Elliotte Friedman reported that “there are some Western Conference teams considering Christian Dvorak. It’s been a nightmare season, but they know he’s much better than this.” It’s thought number 10 and the article is linked below.

https://www.sportsnet.ca/nhl/article/32-thoughts-teetering-abyss-oilers-turn-another-new-coach/

Then on February 11th in the 32 Thoughts podcast, Friedman elaborated a little. He said there is recognition across the league that Dvorak is a better player than he has shown this year in Montreal. He mentioned the West in particular and said Dvorak is on the list of some teams as potential players to acquire. The entire podcast is linked below and Habs talk begins at the 3:25 mark.

I’ve not been able to locate a reported asking price for Dvorak, which makes sense since it doesn’t sound like the Habs are actively shopping him. Setting the valuation for him is a simple call for me. The Habs do not need to move Dvorak right now. He is under contract ($4.45M AAV) for three years beyond this one and they lack depth at centre. Moving Dvorak only makes sense for the right return. I’m setting the valuation at the same price Bergevin paid for Dvorak, with perhaps a little trade deadline inflation.

Bergevin traded a 1st round pick, and when conditions are met it will be Carolina’s first which will fall in the cup contender range, and a 2024 2nd round pick. This is the minimum package that should be accepted to move Dvorak.

The fantasy…

I’m not at all convinced the Habs should be open to moving Dvorak unless there is a confirmed plan for the C hole he would leave. That plan might become a little more obvious at the draft lottery, so perhaps a Dvorak trade makes more sense for the draft floor.

But I’m going to add one more voice to consider. While doing his recent road show, Kent Hughes mentioned that they would like to add a veteran centre to help Suzuki. This would suggest the HuGo assessment of Dvorak is that he is either not the mature veteran they seek, or they don’t see him as good enough to fall in behind Suzuki. The trade of Tyler Toffoli may also tell us something. If Toffoli’s window is too brief for the Habs, will they be in a rush to fill that hole at C, or will they let the process unfold?

With these thoughts in mind, here are three fantasy trade proposals for Christian Dvorak.

Option 1 – Colorado Avalanche

Habs fans have been plotting trades with the Avalanche for months. The rumours start with Carey Price and end with a reunification of Jonathan Drouin with Nate MacKinnon. I don’t think either of those deals makes sense for the Avs.

I know Colorado is named in Claude Giroux rumours, but adding that contract will require more cap gymnastics than my proposal.

If I was Joe Sakic I’d be looking at my team and seeing potential for a cup run, but the next thing I’d see is a legit 1C, a bunch of young talented Cs and a 2C that’s about to become a UFA. If Sakic intends to give Nazem Kadri a new deal my proposal doesn’t make sense, but Kadri is having a terrific season and will fetch a fortune on the open market. With good young centres on the rise, Sakic can afford to hold Kadri for a playoff run and let him walk in free agency, while also considering options for next year.

In the short term, adding Dvorak brings NHL experience to the centre group. In the long term, Newhook moves into the 2C hole and Dvorak plays 3C. The cap structure works for Colorado beyond this year, but the Habs would need to take a contract back to make it work for this season.

Option 2 – Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators are currently in a wild card spot. They will be reticent to spend on free agents – they’re not good enough to go all in. David Poile may wish to improve his team, but he will likely prefer a player with term. The Preds are also in excellent shape where the cap is concerned.

Poile may also look at his group of centres and feel a guy like Dvorak could strengthen the team down the middle, both in their bid to make the playoffs, and for years to come.

Option 3 – Dallas Stars

Dallas is a bit of a perplexing team. They’re currently competing for a wild card spot and are locked into contracts with guys who are 30 and 32. They have three UFAs that are core pieces of their team. I’m not sure they have any choice but go for it, but they’d probably also prefer to not spend too much on the rental market.

The Stars have a couple of interesting centre prospects in development, but no one truly on the cusp of making a difference in the NHL. Hintz and Seguin are solid top 6 guys, but the centre depth after that is shaky. Adding Dvorak this season gives them a solid 3C and allows time for guys like Peterson and Bourque to mature. They’ll need help with the cap this year, but Dvorak doesn’t hurt their structure going forward.

The wake-up call…

I deliberately picked three Western Conference teams for a reason. Dvorak is having a down year, and it is possible that the only way they Habs get value back is if they deal with teams who are familiar with the larger body of work before he came to Montreal. If they want to avoid selling low, it may be best to be patient.

Is there a better fantasy partner? Feel free to drop your ideas in the comments and we can chat!

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

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