Canadiens approval ratings: Which players are fans happy and unhappy with?

The Canadiens are in the midst of a deep rebuild, which makes player evaluation central to their next steps.

This is Part 3 of a series examining how fans feel about the most prominent players on their favourite Canadian NHL teams.

To qualify, a player must be a top-nine forward, top-four defenceman, or top-two goaltender according to the team's CapFriendly depth chart who appeared in at least 10 regular-season games with the club in 2022-23.

Other articles in the series: Maple Leafs, Oilers, Senators, Flames, Jets, Canucks

The Montreal Canadiens are on a long road back to contention after the team was unable to sustain its success following a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020-21.

In 2022-23, the team improved on a disastrous 2021-22 by 13 points, but was still miles from a playoff spot.

The Habs were difficult to evaluate in an overall sense — and on an individual level — due to the massive amount of injuries they suffered. That should make an approval rating survey an interesting and unpredictable exercise.

Let's get started:

Cole Caufield

Canadiens forward Cole Caufield has established himself as an extremely dangerous goal scorer. (Vitor Munhoz/NHLI via Getty Images)
Canadiens forward Cole Caufield has established himself as an extremely dangerous goal scorer. (Vitor Munhoz/NHLI via Getty Images)

Position: LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 46 GP, 26 G, 10 A, 36 P — 43.45 xGF% (5v5)

On a per-game basis, Caufield is a goal-scoring monster, but we've yet to see a full season from him. The Canadiens gave him an eight-year extension in the offseason in hopes that he can be one of the NHL's most dangerous snipers — and that's a title he lived up to when healthy in 2022-23.

A shoulder injury ended Caufield's season in January, but he appeared well on his way to a 40-goal campaign. The 22-year-old projects to be Montreal's top offensive threat for the foreseeable future.

Nick Suzuki

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 26 G, 40 A, 66 P — 43.01 xGF% (5v5)

During a season where the Canadiens dealt with a ridiculous amount of injuries, Suzuki was a beacon of stability.

He didn't take a massive step forward from his 2021-22 season statistically, but he laced up the skates for every game, played on both special teams, played more than 21 minutes per night, and increased his goal total by at least five for the second consecutive season.

Josh Anderson

Position: RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 69 GP, 21 G, 11 A, 32 P — 43.58 xGF% (5v5)

Anderson authored the second 20-goal season of his career in 2022-23 despite missing a few games and threw his 218-pound frame around, delivering 139 hits.

The veteran isn't known as a penalty killer, but he logged more time on that special-teams unit than he had since 2018-19 to round out his performance. His numbers looked very similar to his 2021-22 season across the board, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing for a Montreal team that desperately needed goals.

Sean Monahan

Position: C/LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 25 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 P — 47.40 xGF% (5v5)

Monahan got off to a promising start to his Canadiens tenure before injuries derailed his season.

In his 25-game stretch with Montreal, he injected a dose of offence into the lineup, contributed on both special teams and made a difference in the faceoff dot (55.1%).

Kirby Dach

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 58 GP, 14 G, 24 A, 38 P — 48.43 xGF% (5v5)

Dach took a meaningful step forward in his first season with the Canadiens, becoming a reliable offensive contributor after producing just 0.39 points per game in his first three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The centre showed a knack for producing on the power play despite Montreal's struggles with the man advantage. His 16 power-play points exceeded his career production in 152 games with Chicago (10) and ranked second on the Habs despite his games missed.

Dach was often deployed in the offensive zone and rarely asked to penalty kill, but he turned his offensive role into concrete production.

Brendan Gallagher

Position: RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 37 GP, 8 G, 6 A, 14 P — 49.41 xGF% (5v5)

Gallagher hasn't played more than 60 games in a season since 2018-19 and 2022-23 was another injury-marred campaign.

The veteran winger's ice time hit its lowest mark since his rookie season on a per-game basis (14:17) due to a lack of special teams contributions and his points-per-game mark (0.38) was a career-low. To the winger's credit, his possession numbers were strong relative to his teammates.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard

Position: LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 34 GP, 14 G, 6 A, 20 P — 48.18 xGF% (5v5)

Harvey-Pinard did an excellent job of finding the twine in his first extended look at the NHL level, and he managed 30 total goals on the season if you include his AHL markers.

The winger isn't likely to replicate the 24.1% shooting percentage he produced in 2022-23, but he's clearly a talented scorer and it will be interesting to see what he can do in the season ahead.

Joel Armia

Position: RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 43 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 P — 42.16 xGF% (5v5)

Armia was most often deployed in defensive situations, with a defensive-zone start rate over 55% at 5v5 and twice as much penalty killing time as power-play usage.

On offence he produced very little, scoring seven or fewer goals for the third straight year and posting the exact same point total as he did in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Michael Matheson

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 48 GP, 8 G, 26 A, 34 P — 43.28 xGF% (5v5)

Matheson had a peculiar season where he missed plenty of time but still set his career-high in points — partly because he got his first opportunity to be a full-time power-play quarterback and ran with it.

The 29-year-old also got more trust from his coaching staff than ever before, earning a massive overall workload (24:27) that ranked 11th among all NHL players. After producing at such an unprecedented rate in his eighth NHL season, the range of outcomes for Matheson in 2023-24 is vast.

David Savard

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 62 GP, 3 G, 17 A, 20 P — 42.14 xGF% (5v5)

Savard took on a heavy workload in 2022-23, getting more ice time than any season since his age-25 year in 2015-16.

He made a minimal impact on the scoresheet, but blocked plenty of shots and led his team in penalty-killing minutes. His possession numbers were unimpressive, but he was put in tough positions, starting more than 60% of his 5v5 shifts in the defensive zone.

Kaiden Guhle

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 44 GP, 4 G, 14 A, 18 P — 40.80 xGF% (5v5)

Guhle's rookie season was difficult to evaluate since he missed so much time due to injuries — particularly a knee issue that kept him out for two months.

The 21-year-old skated more than 20 minutes per night and flashed some offensive ability while also contributing on the penalty kill. His on-ice possession numbers were ugly, but they came from a relatively small sample.

Johnathan Kovacevic

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 77 GP, 3 G, 12 A, 15 P — 48.47 xGF% (5v5)

After getting claimed on waivers last October, Kovacevic carved out a full-time role on Montreal's blue line, skating 17:25 per night.

His offensive numbers didn't jump off the page, but his possession metrics were far better than what most Canadiens managed despite consistently starting his shifts in the defensive zone. The right-shot defender also logged extensive time on the penalty kill, ranking third on the team in PK workload (153:24).

Samuel Montembeault

Position: G

2022-23 regular-season stats: 16-19-3 with a 3.42 GAA, .901 SV% and -4.2 GSAA

Montembeault's numbers were slightly below average across the board in 2022-23, but they were a major improvement over 2021-22.

While the 26-year-old got off to a strong start in his first 18 games of the season with a 9-7-2 record and a .912 save percentage, the wheels came off from there. In his final 22 games he posted an .892 save percentage and never allowed fewer than two goals in an outing.

Montembeault is the only NHL goaltender who played at least 40 games without recording a shutout in 2022-23.

Jake Allen

Position: G

2022-23 regular-season stats: 15-24-3 with a 3.55 GAA, .891 SV% and -17.2 GSAA

Allen's performance has declined in each of his three years with the Canadiens and he was one of the NHL's least effective goaltenders in 2022-23.

Playing behind a team far from contention dealing with serious injury problems is no walk in the park, but the 33-year-old didn't do much to inspire confidence.