I have to say I have always had a soft spot for Danault.
His acquisition is definitely one of the better Bergevin trades. He came from Chicago alongside a 2nd round pick for the likes of Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise in a year that the Habs were absolutely atrocious.
Both players sent to Chicago had no long term impact for the Habs despite their fairly respected tenure with them. There were no tears shed as Montreal looked to be heading for a rebuild.
Danault however turned out to be quite the haul for the Habs. He came from a very successful Chicago system that gave him all the tools he needed to succeed. Organizationally he was a player they desperately needed to fill an positional void.
He was never lights out to start; but he was steady. As time wore on he slowly cemented himself as a fairly productive player and eventually a top line centre that could be counted on in all scenarios.
Sure, the Habs had zero depth, and he had no competition for top lines minutes, but that shouldn't take away from what he did. He played well enough to land himself a 3 year 9,250,000 contract in 2017-18 to cover until 2020-21. He has successfully played two years off the contract and enters his final year. No one can argue that he has not been worth it so far.
But now we come to the crux of the matter, what to do with him? His last few years have seen him put up 53 points/81 games and 47 points/71 games. That translates to a .65 and .66 per game point production. He has been solid in the faceoff dot with consistent wins over 50% of his draws. His +-, if you care to put stock in those numbers have been +35. He has been adept defensively and has managed to produce playing top line minutes the last two years for a offensively challenged team. He has been an excellent player and teammate.
Yet not everything is going well for Philip. Where once he stood alone amongst centers on the team, he now has rivals. Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are promising players who look to be heirs to the 1-2 spot on the team. He may no longer have access to the topline minutes he once had, which begs the question, will he produce in the same fashion? Suzuki in particular after a promising season and playoffs seems poised to take on a bigger role.
So where does that leave him? Will he put up such solid numbers in a third line role? Is he good enough to merit top line minutes in the face of rising talent? What do you pay him...?
I have my answer to that. I say you pay him the exact same, if not slightly more. There is no question as to his worth to this team. They may have a bit more depth in center these days than when he first came to town, but they are not loaded by any means.
He is a player who can go up and down the lineup for Julien and has shown he can more than carry his weight for a cap hit of 3.5- 4 million. With the flat cap and his own abilities taken into consideration, I don't have an issue paying him as high as 4 per year. But not a dime more than that.
But that's not a knock on him. The team sits precariously cap-wise due to its....interesting signings this offseason and limits what they can pay him while saving some in reserve for future signings.
I would love to see him back with the Habs. He could be welcomed for 3.5- 4 mil at a 3 year term. I don't know if he would bite on it, but I would even give more term as he will be only 28 next year. However this could all be the homer in me speaking. I am admittedly quite biased as I said above.
So what do you think? Am I too much of a homer for him? Do you think he should be paid 4 mil? More, less? Or should the Habs let him walk?
What do you think?