Montreal Canadiens: Danault Proving He’s More than a Depth Player

Montreal Canadiens Forward Phillip Danault is establishing himself as one of the club’s core players, and proving he’s more than 4th line player.

Last season, the Montreal Canadiens were forced into trading one of their key role players in Dale Weise. As the Canadiens 2015-16 spiraled out of control, and the deadline neared, it was obvious Weise had to go. Weise’s contract was expiring, and because of his solid play, he was going to get a raise that the Canadiens couldn’t afford.

The Habs acquired Phillip Danault and a 2018 second round pick from the Chicago Blackhawks, in exchange for Dale Weise, and Forward Tomas Fleischmann. Many wondered if the Canadiens got enough in return, because Weise was a key contributor, and a fan favorite.

However, Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin assured fans that Phillip Danault was going to make an impact with the Habs. Here is what Bergevin said after the trade:

Phillip Danault is a young and gifted player who will be part of our core group of young forwards for many years to come. I am very pleased to have him join our organization. As a member of the Blackhawks management group, I was instrumental in the selection of Phillip in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft.”

Danault impressed many with his defensive play in the final 21 games of the 2015-16 season. He showed great potential as a bottom six Forward who could sub in at Center, and could contribute on the Penalty Kill. Phillip’s play this season though, is showing that he’s capable of more, and will be with the Habs for many years to come.

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Breakout Season

Danault is only 23 years old, and is showing that he isn’t just a defensive specialist, but can contribute offensively as well. In 36 games, Danault has scored seven goals and has totaled 16 points. Danault is producing at a rate of 0.44 points per game, and this is up from last season.

Last season Danault scored 10 points in 51 games between Montreal and Chicago. Danault scored at a 0.19 points per game rate, and clearly he has developed into a more well rounded player this season.

Danault’s production is even more impressive when considering the amount of injuries the Habs have had at Center this season. The Canadiens are currently without Centers Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, and David Desharnais.

Many wondered how the Canadiens would find offense without these players. However, Phillip Danault has stepped up his play, and has filled in on the Habs top two lines frequently, since the injury bug hit the Habs.

Clutch Performance

Also, Danault showed some clutch play recently, and in particular, last night verse the Florida Panthers. The Habs were trailing by a goal, with only a couple minutes left in regulation, and Danault made an awesome pass through traffic to Brendan Gallagher. Brendan was able to find the back of the net, but Danault wasn’t finished.

Danault took a pass in the neutral zone, flashed his speed on a breakaway, and sniped a wrist shot over James Reimer‘s Blocker. This was Danault’s second game winning goal of the season, and showed off his play making potential.

Potential

Phillip is showing everyone that maybe he isn’t just a bottom six forward, but may have second line potential. Considering that he’s still 23 years old, and how his point per game production has jumped up this season, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Danault also has the hockey IQ and special Defensive qualities that Head Coach Michel Therrien wants his in players.

The of the Montreal Canadiens future depth of Centers look much better than it did before the season. With Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, Michael McCarron and Phillip Danault all 25 years old and younger, the skies are the limit for the Habs future corps of Centers!

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