The Strange Case of David Desharnais

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.

Should the Habs deal or keep DD?

Should the Habs deal or keep DD?

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

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11 comments

  1. jon · ·

    nope, dd’s a keeper for now…meantime, what do you do about the coming prospects like collberg, reway, lekhonen, holland, hudon? none of them are big…so who do you develop and who do you trade off?

    I say you deal pleks with a prosepct at the end of the year for a high draft ….keep the rebuild going. As good as DD is, he doesn’t bring you back what pleks will and he doesn’t cost as much nor is he as old…you can deal DD in a few years…

    end of this year, you deal off all the veterance except for markov. MAYBE keep murray.

  2. I find it interesting that Plekanec – who is the same height as Sidney Crosby and only 4 lbs lighter – is constantly referred to as small whereas Crosby never is…

    1. Paul Lemire · ·

      I agree Rosalyn. I think getting rid of Plecs would be a very bad decision because he brings so much to the table – he is a player that would be almost impossible to replace at his salary. And you are right – he is 5″11 not 5’6″ so he isn’t quite a Smurf !!

      1. jon · ·

        Pls don’t get me wrong. I love pleks. but logic says, we wont win a cup for at least 2-3 yrs if not longer, and so, with him at 31 yrs old now, earning 5.5, it would make good sense to use him now, at his peak, to get the most back before he is worth little to nothing in a few yrs time when he is 34.35. It saves up cap space, gets us a very valuable draft spot and opens space for galchenyuk and eller to be your number 1 and 2 centers…with DD somewhere in the mix with maxpacc.

      2. All very good points – and if we could get something good for Plecs now – yea I would certainly back that move. A two way guy that thrives on special teams is a rare commodity so MB will have to be very smart about dealing him.

      3. jon · ·

        I would look at getting someone like evander kane for pleks plus someone….or if the right guy is not now available for what we need, I suggest trading pleks before the draft to move up to grab someone we need either this year or next…there’s no question we need more skilled guys with size at the forward spots. Also, both Florida and Edmonton present interesting trade partners for us….both have need of leadership guys like pleks, gio, moen, and we have need of young talent. again, I love pleks, but I see him as a means to an end…given our young core and prospects on the way, the time in at the end of this year or next to deal him.

      4. There are a ton of scenario’s that could come to fruition at the trade deadline – including injuries. Plecs has two more years on his current contract – as much as we have him – someone would have to be willing to pick up his 5 million before he can move – and I’m not sure if he has a no or limited trade clause. I like where you are going with this though – and like I said – I am not against a trade if MB plays it smart.

      5. jon · ·

        We fully agree…and I do trust MB. I don’t think another team in need of a guy like pleks(and there are many) would balk at his salary…having said that, many habs fans would be reluxtant to trade him if they think we have a chance in the playoffs….I don’t personally think we have a chance at a cup even if we are right in the playoff hunt…which it looks like we will be. But I can see a Detroit, a Chicago, a San Jose dying to have a guy like pleks for their playoff run. Yes we would miss pleks and yes it would temporarily hurt us, but, as I said, logic suggests its the right move for the next generation team.

  3. Paul Lemire · ·

    Man, I hate to get rid of Plecs. Not only can he score, his defensive skills and his all around playing ability are a big plus for the Habs. Gionta will be gone for sure. Markov is playing 25 minutes a game – but he is getting up there – I would put his value at 3 – 3.5 mill if he wants to stay and if not we have Tinordi that can step up. Personally, I would rather keep Markov for three more because Frankie Boullion will be gone. There may not be a place for the rest of the names you mentioned. Slowly you will see them being traded away unless they have outstanding years with the AHL team. If Murray comes cheap enough, he is a good enough 7th defenceman. I think we have a great core of young talented players. Now we have to fill in what we need via the farm if possible. We are lucky we have so many names in the hat.

  4. Jacques · ·

    Absolutely do not trade Plekanec. IIRC, MB (and fans) view Detroit as a model from which to build a franchise. And Detroit would not trade Datsyuk or Zetterberg, even though both are 35 and 33 respectively because the idea is not: we may not win with you – Detroit’s thinking is “we don’t want to win without you”. In other words, they show loyalty to their talent, and in turn, the talent wants to play for the team.

    I’m not saying to take this attitude with any play e.g. I wouldn’t necessarily take that attitude with Bourque per se. But for talent that have bled CH (a la Koivu), I would definitely take that attitude for the bigger picture of bringing the most out of players for the team/organization.

    1. I agree Jacques. I would make that way down on my priority list to trade Plekanec and I will stand behind you on this one. Plecs brings so many things to the table that I truly believe it would be hard to replace him with two players – never mind one. We have to trust MB on this one – and he knows the value of Plekanec like players.

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