What if I told you there is a player on the Habs that has the following resume who is being paid $3.5 million per year to ply his trade for the Montreal Canadiens? Would you consider that a deal?
This Canadien played junior hockey in Quebec and amassed 38 goals in 61 games in his last season. Being team captain, he totaled 374 points in 262 games. He won the most gentlemanly player award while doing this for three consecutive years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as well and winning the same for the entire CHL. Based on these qualifications alone, this player could have been picked first round – but was totally passed over in the NHL Entry Draft. Never being a quitter, this player finally got a shot at a training camp and earned a place in the East Coast Hockey League putting up 106 points in only 68 regular season games, adding another 33 points in 22 playoff games leading his team to their first Championship ever. He was named rookie of the year, MVP, and was named to the All-Rookie Team and First All-Star Team.
With his never-say-die attitude and work ethic, he was invited to a pro training camp after which he was signed to a two-year two-way contract in the AHL. After a successful AHL debut, he led the team with 78 points in 60 games and added another 23 points in 19 playoff games.
So, would you want this player on YOUR team? The above resume is that of one David Desharnais!
His credentials are second to none. His work ethic has stood the test of time. His skill level is above average. So why is his outstanding resume, all-star statistics and known work ethic being questioned game in and game out by Canadien fans? Read on.
Unfortunately, numbers determine value – and Desharnais numbers in the NHL have been dismal for the last two seasons. This year, for the first 19 games, he stood at no goal and a single assist. Everyone was calling for a trade or to put him on waivers and send him back down to ride the buses -everyone except his fellow players and coaches, that is. These guys saw something in David Desharnais that nobody sitting at home playing armchair GM saw – the professionals were right. Desharnais is now proving that when matched with the right line-mates, he is a force to be reckoned with. Even with his current revival the question still remains; do the Canadiens really need another 5’6” forward? The answer is NO if we are building for the future. This is Brian Gionta’s last year and he will be replaced by a bigger, stronger younger version and the Habs need to do the same thing with David Desharnais.
Desharnais is a small man playing in a large man’s game. Sure, there is always room for talent – but the Habs already have that in Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec – two of the best small forwards in the league. Desharnais happens to be the odd man out at this point in time.
So, the final question in – do the Canadiens keep or deal Desharnais. My opinion is to deal him – and fast. Even though Desharnais has picked up the pace and now stands at 3 goals and 7 assists for 10 point in 28 games, there are a lot of bigger, stronger forwards who can fight for the puck in the corners, score goals and cast a bigger shadow in front of the opposing goaltenders. The Canadiens have to deal Desharnais right now while his stats are on the upswing and before he fades again. He does have 3 goals and 6 assists in his last 9 games!
I believe this is the path the Canadiens have to choose if GM Marc Bergevin wishes to reach his long term goal of a Stanley Cup. I wish David Desharnais all the best wherever he hangs his next jersey. A strange case indeed.
By Paul Lemire