Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi had the best season of his career in 2018-19, and he might have to thank a Toronto Maple Leafs legend for that.
It’s been a year since Domi was unveiled by the Canadiens to the media. The Habs traded for him in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, who had divided the fanbase into those who had given up on him and those still expecting him to reach the potential he showed as a third-overall pick.
Domi, meanwhile, was coming off back-to-back nine goal seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. Something had to give in order for him to have success as a Hab — more than the player he had replaced.
One notable criticism attached to him was his shooting. He even acknowledged it could’ve been much better, and said even his “uncle” Mats Sundin, the former Maple Leafs captain and family friend, would text him about it.
“If I don’t shoot the puck — which I didn’t shoot the puck that well last year — he’s the first guy to text me,” Domi told the media one year ago.
Well, he took it to heart in 2018-19.
Domi was one of the brightest spots for the Canadiens in 2018-19, scoring 28 goals and a team-leading 72 points in 82 games. He did it by shooting the puck more than ever before.
He put 203 shots on goal last season (362 total shot attempts), with a 13.8% conversion rate. It was the first time in his career that he had registered over 200 shots on goal in a season, compared to his rookie season when he had only 156. Only Brendan Gallagher had more shots on goals among Habs players. Coincidentally, he led the team in goals with 33.
It ultimately contributed to a season where the Canadiens were a top-five team in shots per game, averaging 34.1 a contest. While the league average shot total went down, the Canadiens’ trended upward.
Domi also saw an increase in his high-danger chances; 61 to be specific, the most he’s had in a season. As the chart from HockeyViz.com will show, he wasn’t gun-shy near the net, giving his team another offensive threat while on the ice. Without Domi on the ice, the team was much more reliant on point shots (likely from Shea Weber).
The Canadiens can, and will, rely on Domi to be a primary offensive target once again in 2019-20. But he Habs could still use another offensive-minded piece to give themselves more scoring options, whether that’s a skilled defenceman or an offensive linemate. Such an addition would help alleviate pressure on Domi and his current teammates, while making it harder for opponents to deal with the Canadiens offence.
Not that Domi minds the pressure, whether it’s from himself or from a rival player Habs fans have grown to hate.