Either Or Both: Getting The Max to Phil a Need

Both are good players. One is (or can be) an offensive dynamo, the other is an excellent two-way player. Both were acquired through trade by Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin and both flourished in a Habs’ uniform. Both appear to have fallen behind youngsters Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the Canadiens’ depth chart at the centre position. Neither of them seems willing to play the wing and head coach Claude Julien sees them both as centremen. But neither of them is a fourth line centre and both want to have an offensive role on the team.

Dilemma, dilemma. There is no way that the Canadiens will put one of Suzuki or Kotkaniemi to the wing. They’ve proven being great natural centres and they are the future of this team up the middle. Phillip Danault has received votes for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward in the NHL. He leads all Habs’ forwards in faceoffs taken and faceoffs’ percentage. Max Domi is a bit of a liability defensively but he’s the most skilled of the two offensively, being a year removed from a 72 points season. How are the Canadiens going to get out of this if they’re not capable of convincing Max to play the wing?

Remember when the Canadiens’ biggest organisational need was at centre? Good times! NOT! Amazing to see how things have changed in such a short time, isn’t it?

By the numbers

MAX DOMI PHILLIP DANAULT
25AGE27
5'10"HT6'1"
192WT201
71GP71
17G13
27A34
44PTS47
-3+/-+18
35PIM32
0.62PTS/GP0.66
179S131
9.5S%9.9
17:06TOI/GP18:51
0:01SHTOI/GP2:31
2:19PPTOI/GP1:34
48.9FOW%54.5
1.58HITS/605.33
3.16GvA/602.24
2.07TkA/601.52
0.64BkS/601.65

It seems like from looking at those numbers, Danault is more valuable to the Canadiens. Add to the those numbers the intangible that he’s from Quebec too. Whether you believe in it or not, it does weigh in the balance. But there is no denying that he will never reach the 70 points plateau, especially not with Suzuki and KK ahead of him. Domi has done it once already and he does have the potential to do it again, even to jump ahead of a Kotkaniemi on the second line. But he’s on and off. Bergevin qualified his last season by saying that he was not implicated as much, that he tried to play more of a finesse game instead of a grinding game.

Max is a RFA and needs to be signed this off-season. He had a cap hit of $3.15M. Phil has one year left to his contract with a cap hit of $3.08M, then is scheduled to become a UFA. How much will they cost could also be an important factor in the equation.

Getting the Max

From an outside observer point of view, Max needs to be emotionally involved in the game in order to have his best games. He needs to be physically implicated and yes, this comes with the odd undisciplined penalty. So perhaps with his team-low 1.58 hits per 60 minutes, that’s what happened last season? Could it be a coaching request to demand that he stayed out of the box? If that’s the case, it would be like asking Max’ father Tie to stop dropping the gloves. You take away his usefulness, the best part of his game. In order to be effective, the Domis need to play with a chip on their shoulder.

So maybe, just maybe, Domi needs a change… a coaching change in order to get back to the 70 plus points player that he’s shown. And you won’t find any objection from yours truly, as I do believe that the time for a coaching change is now. But that won’t solve the logjam at centre. Finding a new coach for Domi might just be on Bergevin’s agenda of things to do, but it might not be in Montreal. That, along with dangling his first round pick in a potential trade. Go Habs Go!

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