When Dvorak Returns Somebody Has To Sit; But Who?

Montreal Canadiens v Chicago Blackhawks
Montreal Canadiens v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Montreal Canadiens centre Christian Dvorak has been out with a torn pectoral muscle for the majority of the season, but he could lace 'em up before season's end.

Martin St. Louis announced today that the veteran centre has recovered a little ahead of schedule. Dvorak has been out since December 30 and was expected to miss the entire season, after undergoing surgery. At the time of his injury, the 28-year-old had 3-4-7 totals through 25 games.

His return will shore up a bottom-six centre spot, leaving Martin St. Louis with a decision to make. Who comes out of the lineup? Jake Evans has been solid all year, all things considered; with the revolving door of wingers that he's played with.

The obvious choice is Colin White, who was claimed off waivers in an attempt to give the Laval Rocket back their top point producer, Brandon Gignac. White hasn't hit the ground running and he hasn't done a whole lot to prove he belongs. Through 13 games in a Canadiens sweater, White has scored zero points and has a minus-two differential.

He seems like the obvious choice to get healthy scratched, even though Dvorak hasn't been much of an upgrade offensively. However, Dvorak is a strong two-way presence and his strength on faceoffs will be helpful for the Habs. St. Louis has trusted Dvorak in the past on the penalty kill also, which makes him a logical choice over White.

With Nick Suzuki and Alex Newhook mixing it up in the top two centre roles, adding Dvorak on the fourth line behind Jake Evans helps the Habs' centre depth. Dvorak and Evans could potentially be interchangeable, but regardless they are both adept at their position. Dvorak isn't likely to make much of a splash, but with the season winding down, it is more about his morale and getting some reps before the offseason commences.

Dvorak will always be viewed as the player who was acquired for a 2022 first-round draft pick and a 2024 second-round draft pick. Neither could be considered sure-fire NHL potential picks, so there's a silver lining. But Dvorak hasn't lived up to warrant the package that was dealt to acquire him.

If nothing else, he will be steady down the middle and provide the Canadiens with respectable centre depth to close out the year. He has likely reached his ceiling, so there aren't expectations for much more. And for a team that is young and looking to take the next step forward, he isn't a flashy player, but one that gets the job done and is consistent.