Early morning Friday, TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted out that the Canadiens would extend centre David Desharnais at some point today. The little frenchman was set to become a restricted free agent on July 5th this upcoming summer. La Presse’s Marc Antoine Godin reported not too long ago that Desharnais switched agents to Pat Brisson, who has a high profile NHL client roster that includes Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Just after 8:30am, the Habs announced that it is a four-year deal for Desharnais and Renaud Lavoie reported that it will be $3.5 million a year. It does not include a NTC or NMC.
David Desharnais was not drafted into the NHL, but the Canadiens invited him to training camp in 2007 to see what he had to offer. He did not make the team, but he was sent to the ECHL and he was named ECHL Rookie of the Year, MVP and was named to both the All-Rookie Team and the First All-Star Team. The following year, the Canadiens invited him back to training camp where he impressed enough to receive a two-year, two-way deal. He was then assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs where he had two successful seasons. In the 2010-2011 season, Desharnais split a significant number of games between the AHL and NHL. In 43 games with the Habs, the centre posted 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists), 12PIM and a -3 rating. On June 20, 2011, Desharnais signed a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850, 000.
In the 2011-2012 season, David Desharnais found his stride while playing with Max Pacioretty and now Dallas Star, Erik Cole. The 26 year old put up 60 points and was a +10. His line was one of the only bright spots in the horrific season as they finished dead last in the Eastern Conference. This year, Desharnais started out quite slowly in production and overall play. However, he has picked it up as of late and is finding ways to get his named penciled in on the scoresheet.
Realistically, Desharnais is not ideal to keep down the middle going forward considering his size, lack of defensive ability (does not tend to backcheck at all) and has a hard time in the face-off dot. Desharnais has had success in the past when he was inserted on the wing and it could be in Montreal’s best interest to move him to a flank down the road. This way, if his centre does get kicked out on the draw, he is capable of coming in as well. The Canadiens would look better with Plekanec, Galchenyuk and Eller through the middle in the future, no?
The jury is out. Is Desharnais worth his new deal? Will he be traded before it ends? Can he produce on a consistent basis? We will see.