This is why Max Domi had to go. Simply put, the Montreal Canadiens feel they’re in a position of strength at the centre position.
And so, on the eve of the Canadiens’ 2020 NHL Entry Draft, they dealt away Domi and a third-round draft choice to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 6’3, 222lb. winger in Josh Anderson.
Anderson’s size and strength is a plus, but his greatest appeal is his goal scoring. The Canadiens were in desperate need of a goal-scoring winger to play alongside talented players like Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The Burlington, Ont., native scored a career high 27 goals in the 2018-19 season. He missed most of the 2019-20 season recovering from a shoulder injury but his former team says that he is at full strength. He can fill a need for the Canadiens who are trying to reach the next step in their evolution — consistently making the playoffs.
Because of the Canadiens’ needs, Anderson is rendered much more valuable than Domi, a fan favourite who was an asset in excess.
Yes, centres are usually more valuable than wingers. They create offence for their wingers through their distribution while matching against other high-quality centres. But what value was there for the Habs in keeping one that they felt had no place on their team? Domi couldn’t even secure a centre position for much of the 2019-20 season despite seeing success during the 2018-19 year mostly playing at his desired spot.
Pleas from fans to see him play more in this year’s pandemic playoffs fell on deaf ears as Domi started the playoffs on the fourth line. In an interview with Aaron Portzline from The Athletic, Domi described his time with the Habs in the Toronto bubble as a ‘super-weird situation’ and lamented the lack of communication with the Habs.
Domi let some real truths fly in his final media availability with the Montreal media on Wednesday. He dropped that that he didn’t even have an exit meeting with the Canadiens once their season ended. And even if he didn’t expand on his relationship with coach Claude Julien, his response might’ve told us all we needed to know.
Max Domi, on his relationship with C. Julien: "I'd rather not get into that."— Richard Labbé (@Richardlabbe) October 7, 2020
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin maintained the organization wasn’t trying to make life difficult for the 25 year old with his place in the lineup. Bergevin also added that he still believes Domi is a “very good hockey player”.
“Sometimes there’s a situation where a player is having a tough time, whatever reason that is,” Bergevin told the media Tuesday night.
Habs fans may feel robbed that Domi, yet another player who openly expressed his love for playing for the bleu-blanc-rouge, is out. They may also wonder if a trade for Domi, plus more assets, would have been enough for a more established scoring option. Evidently, the Canadiens felt an Anderson deal was better in the short run.
Regardless, Max Domi’s exit was inevitable and the Canadiens found a way to fill a need through a trade instead of acquiring a round peg to fit in a square hole.