5 Canadiens players who became fan favourites this year

Apr 13 2023, 4:41 pm

The 2022-2023 season has been one with few positives for the Montreal Canadiens.

From being cursed with injuries to finishing at the bottom of the standings, there hasn’t been a ton to celebrate. Nonetheless, a few players got the chance to shine for the first time this season — and the future sure looks bright.

With emerging locker room figures and blossoming talents, here are five Habs players who became fan favourites at the Bell Centre this season.

Samuel Montembeault

When Montreal claimed Samuel Montembeault off waivers in 2021, many wondered where the Quebec-born goaltender would fit in the lineup.

But as details regarding Carey Price’s prolonged absence were revealed, it became clear that Montembeault’s services would be needed. And rather than just playing backup to Jake Allen, the pair have been splitting the crease.

In that time Monty’s shown real progress between the pipes, even winning the Molson Cup back in January.

If all goes well, the 26-year-old could be in the running to become the Canadiens’ starter for years to come.

Kaiden Guhle

Expectations for Kaiden Guhle have always been high considering he was Montreal’s first-round draft pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Even with that pressure, the 21-year-old defenceman started his rookie season with flashes of brilliance. His poise and maturity beyond his years would often earn him over 20 minutes of ice time a night.

He may not be flashy but Guhle is a dynamic two-way defenceman and his emergence has made many Habs fans more optimistic and excited about the team’s future.

Arber Xhekaj

Less than a year ago, most Canadiens fans were not sure how to pronounce Arber Xhekaj’s name. Fast forward to now and the hard-hitting defenceman has earned a spot in the locker room and in the hearts of the Habs faithful.

Known by his quirky nickname “Wifi,” Xhekaj has shown fearlessness, going toe-to-toe against some of the league’s most notable tough guys. While fans love a player who stands up for his teammates, Xhekaj, a dependable blueliner, also has the skill to back it up.

His rookie season may have been cut short by an injury, but many are already eagerly awaiting his return next fall.

Kirby Dach

When General Manager Kent Hughes traded a couple of high picks to Chicago for Kirby Dach during the first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, fans were surprised.

Before arriving in Montreal, Dach was an underperforming forward, netting a quiet 69 points in 152 games with the Blackhawks. And with that, many were wondering if the Habs had overpaid for the young centre.

Dach proved the naysayers wrong, though, with a productive season in Montreal. Better yet, he found good chemistry with top liners Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki.

It didn’t take long for Dach jerseys to become a common sight in the stands of the Bell Centre.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard

At age 24 Rafaël Harvey-Pinard finally got a proper shot in the NHL this season. And the Saguenay native certainly made the most of it, netting 14 goals and 20 points over 34 games.

RHP’s energy, tenacity, and scoring touch turned him into somewhat of a hometown hero. Every time he was presented with a challenge, he rose to the occasion. The most notable highlight was his hat trick against the Columbus Blue Jackets back in March. During the Bell Centre blowout, Harvey-Pinard netted all three of his goals in one period.

Unsurprisingly, he was presented with the Molson Cup that month.

Not only has the rookie earned a spot on the roster next year, he’s earned one in the hearts of the Montreal faithful as well.


Al SciolaAl Sciola

+ Offside
+ Hockey
+ Canadiens