There is no doubt, thus far in this shortened season, that the Canadiens are a balanced and talented bunch. As I've written several times before, the additions made by GM Marc Bergevin in this past off season were both brilliant and timely. Like a true maestro, Coach Julien has been able to create synergy among his lines, and has done an admirable job in improving the Habs' special teams (though the PK could use a little more movement).
But what this edition of Les Canadiens simply does not have is a magician. A creative artist, a player who provides sizzle, oohs and ahs, every time he steps on the ice. Someone like Alexei Kovalev, even a PK Subban. Jonathan Drouin was expected to be that player. He was that player in junior, and at times in Tampa Bay. He certainly hasn't been thus far in his time with the Canadiens.
Now don't get me wrong. Having a flamboyant player or two, does not necessarily generate more wins. It might not even mean more goals will get scored. Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Brendan Gallagher, even Nick Suzuki, all may end up being 30+ goal players this season and beyond. Jeff Petry may not display the same pizzazz or level of excitement Pernell-Karl did when he was here, and he certainly doesn't have the same sense for the dramatics, but one would have to concede that he is a superior overall defenseman (especially in the last couple of years).
So why does this matter?
In games where there is little in the way of entertainment (say, like the last 2 games versus the Ottawa Senators), its nice to have that player who can get fans out of their seats (reclining sofas, more likely, in this Covid day and age). Players like Kovalev, Subban, even a player from a couple of decades ago like Stephane Richer, could do this. Friends, family members I know, who are only casual hockey fans, would watch games here and there precisely because of these types of players.
Its interesting to note that even this year, despite the team's early season success, and the lack of other entertainment options available, the TV ratings for Canadiens games are down, in fact, way down (versus say 4-5 years ago). I can't help but wonder, if this is in part because the team still does not have a legitimate superstar player, or, at the very least, a spectacular one who can provide occasional moments of sheer brilliance and excitement.