Montreal Canadiens: The Danault Dilemma

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Montreal Canadiens, Phillip Danault

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

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, made one of his biggest heists (unknown at the time) in 2016.

Montreal acquired Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-round draft pick (which became Alexander Romanov) from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forwards Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. Regarded as a minor move at the time that helped both teams, it quickly turned in Montreal’s favour.

Tomas Fleischmann went on to play 19 regular season games and four playoff games with the Blackhawks and has not played a single NHL game since. Dale Weise played 15 regular season games and four playoff games with Chicago before signing a multi-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was reacquired by the Canadiens three years later.

After an average end to his 2015 campaign, Philip Danault took no time at all to carve out his role in Montreal’s top – six and emerged as a premier 200 foot player in the league. He recorded a career high in goals and points in 2017 with 40 points in 82 games, only to top that in 2019 with 53 points in 81 games. Danault was always considered a good two way player who fell under the radar, but it wasn’t until his last couple of seasons that he received more recognition around the league.

In 2019-2020, Danault finished 6th in Selke voting.

With at least 700 minutes played, Danault finished the 2020 campaign winning 54.12% of his draws in the defensive zone and averaging more starts there than players such Anze Kopitar, Ryan O’Reilly, and Sean Couturier. Despite facing this difficult defensive deployment in the league, he still managed to finish with an impressive 59.37CF% (Corsi-For) and 59.94xGF% (Expected Goal For Percentage) once again ahead of Couturier, O’Reilly, Kopitar as well as Mark Stone and Patrice Bergeron.

After 2020 Danault was starting to gain more notoriety around the league. In fact, in early January, Nathan MacKinnon was asked (on Barstool’s Spittin’ Chiclets) who he thought was a pain to play against, and he mentioned Philip Danault right away.

‘Such a good centreman. It’s hard to get space on him. I don’t know if he’s in Selke talks but he should be, hopefully he wins one. Good versus everyone, not just me.’

-Nathan MacKinnon

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