It’s been a busy week for Montreal Canadiens’ news: Max Domi removed any mentions of the team from his social media, Phillip Danault was very candid in his thoughts of what his role should be with the team, and Marc Bergevin had his end-of-season presser.
Max Domi’s Situation
With the season coming to an end for the Canadiens, Domi is officially a restricted free agent (RFA). With his poor play in the postseason and the fact he claims he would rather be a center than a winger, the Canadiens need to decide if they want to keep him or not. Claude Julien has come out and said he sees Domi as a center; however with the emergence of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki, and Phillip Danault already being an established center, where does Domi fit?
All this center talk is honestly nothing but negotiation tactics by both sides. Domi wants to be paid as a center, so of course, he will tell everyone he’s a center. So why would the Canadiens allow Domi’s coach to say he’s a center if he could get paid more like one? The simple answer is if they do decide to trade him, they can get more value back if they sell him as a center rather than a winger. The Domi situation, in Montreal, is an interesting one: there is really no room for him to be a center, but he could fit in very well as a winger in the top six. As for him taking mentions off of his social media, well, it’s back up now.
Phillip Danault Knows His Role
At the end-of-season conference call, Danault expressed what he thought his role with the team was and should be. Danault mentioned he sees himself as more than just a defensive center and that he has a lot to contribute offensively as well.
“I love producing offensively and have enjoyed my role the past two seasons. I don’t know if I want to limit myself to a specific role, which would only be defensive. I don’t think I will get better by playing just defensively.”Phil Danault on his role with the Canadiens (From “Canadiens’ Phillip Danault not interested in a defence-only role, he says,” Montreal Gazette, Aug 26, 2020
With Suzuki and Kotkaniemi having a terrific postseason and Danault seeing his play relegated to a more defensive, shutdown role, it’s no wonder that he feels like he has to defend his position. Danault has been the de-facto No. 1 center for the last few years, and he’s one year away from becoming a free agent (UFA).
This is a good situation for the Canadiens. It’s been a very long time since they could say they have depth at the center role. Danault wanting to be more than a defensive player is not a bad thing at all; it gives the Canadiens solid depth and, hopefully, three lines that can contribute to the scoresheet.
Claude Julien Says He’s 100%
Julien was sent home from the postseason bubble after Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs with chest pain. On Aug. 13, he had a stent installed in a coronary artery and now says he feels like he’s 100 percent. He even stated that if his team would have won Game 6, he would have flown back to Toronto and been ready for the next round.
Although Julien feels 100 percent, nothing is set in stone that he could be medically able to return behind the bench. As much as he wants to, the stress of being an NHL coach could still be a lot to handle for someone with a heart condition. Bergevin probably won’t replace Julien unless he asks to step down, so don’t be surprised if he’s still the bench boss next season.
Bergevin Liked What He Saw in the Postseason
Bergevin thought that the experience the young players gained by winning the qualifying round against Pittsburgh was priceless, feeling that the club took a step forward and thinks they can get a player just as good at 16th rather than at nin in the draft. He gave tremendous praise to Carey Price and captain Shea Weber, on their leadership and how they elevated the culture in the locker room.
He also stated that he feels he can build around Suzuki and Kotkaniemi and that the team is ahead of where he thought they were. Bergevin feels the core of the team is built through the draft and that the Canadiens are doing now what Vancouver did to build their team. If Bergevin feels the team is ahead of where he thought, it could be a sign that he will be looking to improve the roster in the offseason to ensure that they make the playoffs and contend in the coming seasons.
Brendan Gallagher Played Hurt
It was revealed in the Bergevin presser that Gallagher had a small tear in his hip that he got in the Pittsburgh series. This would explain his cold playoffs where he only scored one goal. To add insult to injury, Gallagher also had surgery due to a broken jaw he sustained in Game 5 against the Flyers after a cross-check to the face from Matt Niskanen, but he should make a full recovery.
With a busy offseason for the Canadiens coming up, stay tuned to The Hockey Writers and the new podcast network featuring Habs Unfiltered for all your Canadiens news, notes, and rumors.
Trege Wilson lives in Nova Scotia and is a member of the RCN. He is a life long Habs fan and is creator and co-host of the popular Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered.