The Montreal Canadiens have gotten into the spirit of trade deadline season by shipping pending unrestricted agent forwards Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for young centre Phillip Danault and a 2018 second rounder. The key piece in this deal for Montreal is Danault. General manager Marc Bergevin mentioned how he was instrumental in drafting Danault when he still was with Chicago back in 2011 and expressed excitement at acquiring the young centre.
Who is Phillip Danault?
Danault was drafted by Chicago in the first round 26th overall back in 2011 but has only 32 NHL games on his resume so far. He was in tough to make a deep Chicago roster but finally broke through this year to appear in 30 games this season. He is still young at 23, but his NHL future is most likely on the third line. He had five points in 30 games with Chicago this season.
Even in junior, he didn’t project to be a big scorer but rather a character player with a strong work ethic who can contribute in a variety of different ways. With the Danault acquisition, it will be interesting to see where a player like Lars Eller fits into this. Bergevin sees Danault as part of the present and the future while Eller’s name has been swirling for months. Montreal has several players with a skill set similar to Danault so it will interesting to see who stays and who goes as the team’s bottom six just got even more crowded.
Danault seems to fit into what Habs’ management is looking for in young players. They consistently preach character, work ethic and playing two-way as key attributes to have. Going forward, Montreal could potentially ice a third line featuring the likes of Danault, Jacob de la Rose and Daniel Carr.
Hopefully for Danault, the expectations won’t get out of hand. As a francophone in Montreal, he will get some attention from the media and fans but he shouldn’t be expected to put up huge numbers or carry the team in any way.
Considering Weise and Fleischmann (whose game was declining rapidly) were UFAs, getting Danault and a pick was a pretty decent deal for Montreal. Since the second rounder isn’t until 2018, the likelihood of seeing that player is questionable. Danault is closer to a sure thing considering his breakthrough in making the NHL this year and he appears to have a big opportunity waiting for him in Montreal.