Are Gionta’s Days With the Habs Numbered?

I pose the question to all of you as well, are Gionta’s days with the Habs truly numbered? Today I want to discuss certain areas of Gionta’s game and contract situation that may spell the end of Gionta’s tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. Of course this is all open to discussion and interpretation so please take this piece for what it is worth.

Now since an injury-riddled season back in 2011-12 is it safe to say Brian Gionta has not been the same player? Especially offensively? That is certainly open to opinion and for me personally I would lean toward a resounding yes. Now what I mean by not being the same player starts with his shot totals. The average fan may not think his shot totals are a big deal but that one shot could be the difference between a win and a loss. Now Gionta’s first two seasons in Montreal saw the captain score his highest goal totals (28, 29) since his 48 goal season back in 2005-06 and averaged 3.8 and 3.6 shots per game respectively. Ever since Gionta suited up for just 31 games in 2011-12 (including that season) those numbers have dropped significantly;

2011-12 (31 GP): 2.4 shots per game

2012-13 (48 GP): 2.3 shots per game

2013-14 (through 58 games): 2.2

Do you notice a trend here? You should because it is pretty scary, the games played numbers increase while his shots per game decrease and for a guy like Gionta who has the goal scorer’s touch that is not a positive trend. Also for a team who has struggled to score goals for most of the season, Gionta is a guy who should be contributing more and has a history of putting up goals on a consistent basis (seven straight 20+ goal seasons).

Before signing with Montreal Brian Gionta was an even more dangerous playmaker but us Habs fans have not been privy to that side of Gionta’s game. Now take this for what it is worth but Gionta has just one more assist throughout his four and a half years with Montreal than he did in his final two seasons with New Jersey. There are some serious points missing that may (or may not) could have resulted in a game changing goal. However I will shed some light on this particular situation and that is currently Gionta has 18 helpers this season which ties his highest assist total since signing with Montreal and is poised to surpass the 20 assist mark for the first time in five years.

Now since we are on the topic of offense it should be of no surprise that goal scoring would be next on the docket. As I mentioned earlier Gionta came into Montreal motivated and firing on all cylinders with 28 and 29 goals in his first two campaigns but what goes up must come down and Gionta has amassed just 33 goals in the last 137 games. Very unlikely for a proven goal scorer at the NHL level don’t you think? Could this be a case of a player becoming “too comfortable”? You know the story, a highly skilled veteran who is also a Stanley Cup winner signing a big money long-term contract and all of a sudden that offensive spark is gone. Just kidding and no I don’t believe this to be the case, so please be kind.

Lastly, this is a contract year for Gionta, 35, and the previously discussed topics don’t bode well for the Rochester native who may be in search of one last long-term deal. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has stated he would like to re-sign his captain but Gionta will have to accept a pay cut if he wishes to stay in La Belle Province. To me Bergevin’s words were music to my ears, there is no way a player who has been struggling (compared to his own standards) can be in line once again for top dollar contract. Personally I would prefer to not see Gionta back with the Habs next season. My reasons being the aforementioned offensive woes, re-allocating money to re-sign key RFA’s (Subban and Eller) as well as the tired notion of the need to get bigger up front. This summer will see a few names who fit that bill and one that the Habs have been linked to is Ales Hemsky.

While writing this piece I took to Twitter just see how other Habs fans felt about Gionta’s impending UFA status and posed the question on whether or not our captain should be retained. Not surprisingly I did not receive the same answer twice as one fan believes he should be brought back while other wanted him dealt at the deadline or just to let him walk come this summer. I do not foresee Gionta being dealt come the deadline unless it brings a scoring winger who also possesses an expiring contract (see Ales Hemsky) but I am just playing the devil’s advocate here. I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet me (@MTLCanadiensTV) as I am interested in hearing what Habs Nation would like to see happen in regards to our captain, Brian Gionta.


Follow me on Twitter @MTLCanadiensTV

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