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Looking Ahead: Phillip Danault

August 11, 2019, 7:37 PM ET [131 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
What a season Phillip Danault had last year! He managed to get 53 points in 81 games and averaged 17 minutes and 47 seconds of time on ice. Over his NHL career, he's averaged 15 minutes and 51 seconds meaning that last season, he player nearly 2 minutes more on average and that's quite a feat. It wasn't entirely surprising though since he did centre the most stable line on the Habs line-up alongside Tatar and Gallagher. Better yet though, he even entered the Frank J. Selke trophy conversation finishing 7th in voting.

I know, Phillip Danault is no Patrice Bergeron, at least not yet for sure, but he is becoming more and more important to the Tricolore. Right now, number 24 has got two years left on his contract with a $3,083,000 M cap hit per season. To put things in perspective, Ryan Strome, Markus Krüger and Leo Komarov all have a similar cap hit and put up 35, 12 and 26 points respectively. Chances are that when his contract expires, Danault will be looking for a sizeable pay raise and who could blame him? When that time comes at the end of the 2020-2021 season, he will be an unrestricted free agent and should he continue to progress, I believe he will not be short of suitors.

I can already hear some of you say that we might not need him by then.... Kotkaniemi was drafted to be a number one centre, Poehling is a centre as well and so is Suzuki but the fact is that it's tricky to find a guy who can not only be a shut down centre but also put up a nice amount of points. Plekanec did it for the Habs for years and ended up playing way too long in the top 6 because of the Habs' lack of depth at centre but as things stand now and if the organisation plays its cards right, they could find a way to retain Danault while giving increased roles to the youngsters as they mature into the role of centre players. It will be a rather tough balancing act for Claude Julien to do and I fear the fans will be quick to complain that Danault is being used too much and that Kotkaniemi and Poehling don't get enough ice time. It's funny because most of the time, those who will be crucifying Danault for too much ice-time will be the same ones who were on David Desharnais' case for being used as a 1st line centre...And yes, those are also the ones claiming that the Canadiens need to have more French-Canadian players...Guess some people are impossible to please right?

This upcoming season, I do expect Danault to stick with his linemates from last season and see quite a bit of action. To be honest, I strongly believe that he will once again beat his personal bests in points and goals and already make it tricky for Julien to split ice-time around.

In the meantime, Danault continues to enjoy the offseason in Québec, appearing in both the Gagné Bergeron Pro-Am, the Sleeman Boot Camp and making the headlines by playing on the rink of dreams on Lac Saint-Joseph.

While all this summer stuff is fun, I just can't wait to see some real hockey again...who's with me?
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