The Montreal Canadiens may want to explore trading Phillip Danault

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 19: Phillip Danault Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 19: Phillip Danault Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Phillip Danault saw his role change with the Montreal Canadiens, and coming off his best season, it may be a good time to move him.

Is the Phillip Danault era with the Montreal Canadiens beginning to close?

It’s a question fans and media have explored on either end of the emotion spectrum. He was brought in for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann as an attempt to shore up the team’s centre situation and has slowly become the number one guy for the Habs. However, it’s fair to say that Danault, in many ways, was the number one centre because of how he was used in the lineup.

Danault played with the likes of Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov and, until recently, was the sole centre between Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher. That changed in the playoffs.

The Habs stuck to what worked against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but when they were pushed to the brink, the lines changed. It was Nick Suzuki who was centring the first line while Jesperi Kotkaniemi was getting second-line-like assignments. Danault, on the other hand, was pushed back to a more reserved defence-focused line playing with Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen.

Out of all the takeaways you can derive from the Habs’ performance in the playoffs, there’s one that is undeniable:

This team now belongs to Suzuki and Kotkaniemi.

Following that fact should have Suzuki and Kotkaniemi’s responsibilities increase while others decrease. Case and point, Phillip Danault, and it doesn’t look as if he was pleased with it.

There were two quotes from Danault that speak to that. The first came from Marc Antoine Godin:

"I saw my role change in the playoffs but with what I have proven, my role should not change in Montreal (translated)."

The second, and in my opinion the most impactful, came from Etienne Ferland:

Who played their last game in a Habs uniform?. light. Related Story

This is something Marc Bergevin needs to be put into serious consideration. With Suzuki and Kotkaniemi stepping up, there’s no reason they should be held back to accommodate Danault’s wishes, especially if both proved they can generate more offence and are improving defensively.

Suzuki led the Montreal Canadiens in scoring with 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 points in 10 games. Kotkaniemi was tied for most goals with 4 as well while Danault had a goal and 2 assists.

It’s understandable for Danault to not want his role to change after being the number one guy for so long, but that’s the nature of the game. Eventually, younger players will come up and grow to become something better. Now there’s the nature of his quotes.

If Danault really feels that changing his role on the team will affect his desire to remain, Bergevin may want to consider moving him. The 26-year-old is going to enter the final year of his contract, which will end with him become a UFA. The Habs may have wanted to entertain the idea of keeping him through the season and work out a deal later on, but if there’s this risk of him walking away, asset management should take precedence.

Danault isn’t a bad player, and there will be suitors out there who are looking for middle-six centres. Additionally, he has an attractive cap hit at $3.083 million, which most teams should be able to make work.

Next. What the Kapanen trade does for the market. dark

It’s something else to think about as the Montreal Canadiens had into a possibly active offseason league-wide. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi’s roles should build off from where they were left off in Game 6, and if Phillip Danault isn’t up to that, there’s only one thing to do.