The Montreal Canadiens are said to be testing the waters on a Phillip Danault trade. What could that look like?
The Montreal Canadiens will have a lot of flexibility this offseason. They were awarded a chance to make the playoffs, and took full advantage by knocking out the heavily favoured Pittsburgh Penguins. Then, they fell in six tough games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the actual opening round of the NHL Playoffs.
This finally kicked off their offseason in early August, though many players believed thier season was all but complete in February. One of those players was Phillip Danault, who was quoted as saying he did not want to return to play after the pandemic if the NHL was just going to finish out the regular season schedule.
There would have been no point in the Habs participating in that, because their 71 points in 71 games left them far outside the playoff picture.
Now that everything has been settled on the Habs 2019-20 season, we enter an offseason that should be quite busy. The Canadiens kickstarted that by trading a third round pick to the St. Louis Blues for goaltender Jake Allen. There is still plenty of business to take care of with their 12 picks in the NHL Draft and plethora of cap space for free agency.
Also, the Habs have a quintet of pending unrestricted free agents who are entering the final year of their contracts. All of them are eligible to re-sign at any time, but nothing has been done quite yet. It is unlikely that the Habs enter the season with Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Tatar, Jeff Petry and Joel Armia all unsigned.
We could see trades, extensions or a combination of the two, but there is no way the Habs are going to head into the regular season with five key players unsigned.
So, what is going to happen next? Surprisingly, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet mentioned yesterday on radio that Danault’s name is popping up in trade talks.
The 27 year old centre has earned some Selke Trophy consideration in the past, but has not been able to score more than 13 goals while playing on a line with Max Pacioretty and Alex Radulov in the past, and more recently centering Tatar and Gallagher.
Danault did not sound pleased to take on a third line role with the team in the playoffs, but with the emergence of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki, that is where he found himself. Max Domi is also considered a centre by the team’s management group. Suddenly, a position that was lacking for decades is bursting at the seams.
Danault is a great defensive centre, and has put up 40 points in three seasons and reached a career high of 53 in 2018-19. The Habs are not going to give him away for a half decent draft pick. If no offers blow general manager Marc Bergevin away, he will simply keep Danault and either look to move Domi, or just enter the season with both on the roster.
Let;s just say a team really wants Danault and decides to make Bergevin a tremendous offer for the defensive centre. What could that look like?