The Montreal Canadiens absolutely needed a win last night on the road against the Winnipeg Jets. They got it in convincing fashion, and one of the biggest reasons for that was their number one centre, Phillip Danault.
In the offseason, our own Nathan Ni wondered if we might have our own Patrice Bergeron in Danault. Now that we’re nearly at the halfway point of the season, it is completely fair to say that Danault should be a frontrunner for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
Every night, Danault is tasked with facing the toughest competition for the Habs. We’re talking Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Nathan MacKinnon, Steven Stamkos, and the list goes on. Whoever the best skater is on the other team, you can expect Claude Julien to tap Danault on the shoulder when that guy steps on the ice.
According to Natural Stat Trick, he starts just 41.71% of his shifts in the offensive zone. From that, he boasts a 59.36% Corsi For, 60.65% Scoring Chances for, and 61.73% high-danger chances for. Fair play to his linemates in Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar, but when he’s on the ice the puck goes in one direction. As the centreman, he’s the catalyst for this.
Against the Jets, it was more of the same. He was out there against the best they had to offer, scored two goals, and started only 20% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Still, he was over 70% for Corsi, and over 80% for scoring chances regardless of whether they were high-danger or not. He was an absolute force, and his two goals were well deserved.
And ‘‘Phil the Trill’’ as I like to call him, just so happens to be on pace for the best scoring season of his career. If he keeps this up, he’ll have over 60 points by the end of the season. This is crazy value for the Habs considering he only cost Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise to get, and the Blackhawks also had to throw in the pick that netted Alexander Romanov.
And Weise is also currently back in the Canadiens organization. And Fleischmann is retired. Boy, did Marc Bergevin fleece the Blackhawks...
It would certainly hurt on the next contract for Danault, but if he keeps this up, it’s only fair that he gets legitimate consideration as the next Selke Trophy winner at the end of this season.