Instant opinions started emerging of people’s displeasure at the low return for a player everyone general believed was poorly handled from the get-go, but the fact remains that Domi is now a member of the Montreal Canadiens, and I thought it best to reach out to our SB Nation sister site Five For Howling, and asked Senior Contributor Carl Pavlock some questions to learn more about Domi from the people who watched him develop into a strong playmaking forward in the NHL.
What did you like about the player?
If you want to understand how much Arizona fans love Max Domi there is a pretty clear example that sticks out from before this past season started. Fans had just learned that beloved Captain Shane Doan would not be returning after he wasn’t offered a contract and they were very pissed off. While Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the clear pick to replace one of the most respected athletes in the state of Arizona, a significant amount of people that that Domi had the work ethic to be the next captain. Ultimately the team never named a captain, in what was honestly a really weird move, but when it was announced that Domi would be traded many fans still thought Domi has the potential to be lead an NHL team sooner rather than later.
The best thing about Max Domi was likely his compete level. He is going to be giving it his all every shift of every game. His scoring dried up last season and you could tell how frustrated he was with himself, but he never gave up, and he kept shooting and making plays. Domi’s skills as a playmaker are also a huge plus, despite having an off year last season he still finished with a career high 36 assists. When paired with a proper line he has the potential to be a game changer, it’s a shame that he never found the chemistry with Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller fans hoped for.
What did you not like about the player?
Domi can have a bit of a temper which always made some fans, including me, nervous. Max is definitely not afraid to drop the gloves, but given his skill set I always preferred he spent his time on the ice rather than in the box. Domi’s fighting has occasionally caused some problems for him, and he lost a large percentage of his sophomore season with a broken hand after fighting Calgary’s Garnet Hathaway.
His offense drying up was definitely a disappointment this past season, but it was tough to really fault him. He really put the work in throughout the season and there is no single issue you could really point to as to why he wasn’t scoring. Domi started his career with a bang, had an injury shorted second year and a weak third year so it’s tough to describe his as inconsistent per say, but the fact that he couldn’t replicate his first season is frustrating.
How was he deployed (position, line, special teams)?
It’s tough to really say how Domi was deployed since it has changed a bit. Under Dave Tippett Domi was a top 6 wing where he found a lot of success his first season. When Rick Tocchet came in Max started the season on a line with Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan on Arizona’s top line. Its tough to say what exactly didn’t work with Domi on that line, but while Keller was lighting up the league and looking like an early Calder candidate, Domi was relatively quiet. Tocchet had Domi play center for a stretch midway through the season, but by the end of the season Domi was back mostly playing wing although he would center a line for a shift or two. It should be noted that the general consensus of Max’s time at center is that he played well in his own end, he just wasn’t generating offense. Domi has been consistently used on the power play since he started in Arizona. His numbers aren’t exactly stellar with the man advantage but probably good enough for a second unit.
Max Domi’s rookie season was one of the high points of Coyotes fans over the miserable last few years when we thought that he was going to be the future of the team. The moment that really sticks out though comes from his sophomore season and was already mentioned above. The fight against Garnet Hathaway shows a lot of the good and a lot of the bad of Domi’s game and is a good litmus test for what Montreal fans will think of Domi. Some people will see a skill player with grit, who isn’t afraid to stand up for his team when he needs to. Others will see a player who a team expects to be a key part of their offense breaking his hand in a fight with a player that isn’t an offensive threat. For a lot of Coyotes fans this played in our heads every time things got rough in a scrum after the whistle.
Although it wasn’t always a bad thing when Domi fought, here he is punching Ryan Kesler
Why do you think he was traded?
I never heard a lot of rumblings about Domi being unhappy this season or likely to be a hold out, even after his friend Anthony Duclair was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for Richard Panik. His name was occasionally floated around as a trading piece though, especially nearing the trade deadline this past season. Domi was one of the Coyotes few players that could net a significant return and after two down years it makes sense to move him now as opposed to risking another down season putting his value completely in ground. GM Chayka frequently said that he wouldn’t sell low on Domi, so I think the biggest reason he was traded was because someone made an offer that Chayka couldn’t say no to.
Who won the trade?
A few years from now I may re-evaluate this but Arizona appears to have won this one. If Domi can regain the form he had his rookie season then the needle is definitely going to move more towards the Montreal side. The contract he signed with Montreal is a nice bridge deal, and him being an RFA at the end of the deal is a plus for Montreal. All that being said, Alex Galchenyuk brings more skill and isn’t as much of a question mark as Domi.