After struggling in the desert with the Arizona Coyotes, Max Domi was brought to Montreal as the singular return in the Alex Galchenyuk trade. It was a trade that saw two very talented forwards in need of a change. However, Domi was coming into a tougher situation in Montreal. The team was coming off one of its worst years in recent history and had traded away its captain. He worked hard in the offseason, to get in shape and be prepared to start with a new team. He even set a higher expectation of himself this season, as he carves a new path for himself in Montreal.
In five games with the Canadiens so far, Domi has four assists, two of which came on opening night against Toronto. Despite not putting the puck in the net himself, the Winnipeg native has inserted a lot of life into an offense that desperately needed a boost.
Missed Preseason, No Problem
Domi’s tenure in Montreal did not get off to a good start. He was caught in an altercation with Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad in the first game of the preseason. Domi sucker-punched Ekblad, and the result of the incident caused the new Montreal forward to be suspended for the remaining preseason games. While exhibition games might not seem important, for a new player coming into a new system with new teammates, it could have been very important. So far, Domi has shown no rust or lack of chemistry with any of his teammates. In fact, he already had a friendship with Brendan Gallagher, and that seems to have blossomed into something on the ice.
The two played together for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Championships were they took home gold. While Domi does not play on a line with Gallagher, the 23-year-old forward has been used frequently at centre on the second line. He has fit in nicely down the middle, with Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen as his wingers.
Speed and Skill Win
When the trade went down, there was an uncertainty to what Domi could bring to Montreal, and why they felt they had to move on from Galchenyuk. Management clearly had enough of its American-born Belarusian forward and needed to maximize the return. With Domi they got a player with a very high hockey IQ, which is something that goes underrated, to go along with great speed, talent and vision on the ice. Unlike his father Tie, who was an enforcer in the NHL for 16 seasons, Max is a much more talented player.
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Domi was a point-per-game player in the Ontario Hockey League as a member of the London Knights, and there was a lot of high praise on him coming out of junior. Unfortunately, his electric style of play did not work out in a small market in Arizona. The question then became, how was he going to fit into the pressure-filled Montreal hockey market? So far, he has shown a lot of hustle, drive and determination in his first five games. He seems to jell with his new teammates and his coaches already think highly of him.
“We’re a team that’s going to work hard, we are not going to give up on plays. We’re not going to give up on pucks and definitely not going to give up on games,” Max Domi told CBC Sports following a win against Pittsburgh.
It is too early to determine a winner on the trade, but Domi’s value to the team is evident. So far, the early results have the team at 3-1-1, which is significantly better than last season start of 1-6-1. The 23-year-old forward seems to be relishing the challenge in Montreal. The Canadiens have started this season as a surprise team, with their speed and willingness to get the puck, and Domi has been a key part of the team’s early success.