Montreal Canadiens Roundtable: Which New Player Has Biggest Impact? Who Leads Habs in Points?

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 30: Nick Suzuki Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 30: Nick Suzuki Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images) /
6 of 7
Montreal Canadiens, Kirk Muller
TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 14: Tomas Tatar Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Joseph Gentile: Tatar was our leading scorer last season and second leading the year before. He also reached career highs for points the last two seasons. Tatar is on the last year of his four-year, 5.3-million-dollar cap hit contract that he signed with Detroit in 2018, where he put up numbers nowhere close to what he has produced in Montreal. I think it is safe to say he is due for a pay raise, and the Canadiens might not be the team able to give him that. The team is currently close to the ceiling and even with expiring contracts in Armia and possibly Lehkonen, the Habs need to sign Kotkaniemi and Suzuki in the future. However, it would be interesting to see if the Canadiens lose a big contract for free in the Seattle expansion draft this summer.

Danault has proven himself to be one of the league’s top two-way centers, ranking sixth in this year’s Selke Trophy votes. This season, he posted a team-leading +18, which ranked 28th
overall in the league.  He led the team in short-handed ice time for forwards with 2:31 minutes/game. He boasted a 54.5 faceoff percentage, being Julien’s go-to guy during defensive zone faceoffs. One downside from his play is that he has amassed only 50 goals in 339 career games played. Even though he compensates with his defensive and passing ability, it is a glaring issue in his game.

Danault has expressed that he feels he is more than a third liner as he saw his role change back in the playoff bubble. If Montreal decides to go down that path, he might want out. However, with the way Claude Julien has made his lines this training camp, Danault is on the first line and does not seem like he will be losing any minutes to Suzuki or Kotkaniemi for now.

For what Montreal should do, I think the smartest move will be to re-sign Danault and let Tatar walk. Danault is the reason why they are involved in most games as he can play a stellar 200-foot game. He could be best played at third (unless Kotkaniemi’s bubble performance was only a blip in his career), being able to counter big lines and play in situation where we need to hold a lead. He will probably end up being one of the highest paid third liners in the league, but it will be a luxury to have and should payoff long term for the team.

Ken MacMillan: Both players play a huge role on the team currently, but this team will go as far as Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi can take them. That’s this season and in the future. We have seen this team miss the playoffs year after year with Danault as their first line centre. If he is willing to signed for $4 million per year to play on the third line, then I’d say keep him. But Danault wants to keep his role as a first line centre and be paid accordingly, but he just isn’t worth first line money. I don’t think he gets signed, simply because he will want too much money.

Tatar has been the team’s top scorer since he arrived in town. The Habs don’t have a ton of prospects on left wing that look like top six forwards, but Tatar definitely is and they should try to keep him around for a few more years. Tatar loves Montreal and after a terrible time in Vegas, he will be more willing to stay where he is comfortable than Danault and I think Tatar eventually signs a three or four year contract extension.