At the mention of David Desharnais‘ name, I can feel the blood pressure in the room shoot up at an alarming rate. Like Therrien, DD is associated with much frustration and hatred. Taken together, Therrien and Desharnais fail to garner any positivity from fans and pundits; pretty much everyone wants the two out.
Looking away from the present and into the future, as everyone seems willing to forget that this season ever happened, several questions are being raised. For instance, what exactly is the future of DD? Should the Habs trade him? Buy-out his contract? Or, should he remain on the team as a 3rd line winger?
Most want him out. To those people, the very fact that I raise such a question is probably ridiculous. Keeping him shouldn’t be an option, silly human! Well, you will be happy to hear that I think he should go. Here’s why.
Much like a one-hit wonder, Desharnais was a “star” for only one season, hitting the 60-point mark in 2011-2012. Since then, he has been streaky and has failed to be a consistent producer during both regular and post-seasons as a 1st line centre. I can’t remember one season where Desharnais wasn’t in a scoring slump. As a first line centremen, such scoring droughts are unacceptable.
Furthmore, pairing an inconsistent player in DD with another inconsistent player in Pacioretty, it is not surprising that the fans loved and hated the two simultaneously. Pacioretty needs to become more reliable, but he also needs a solid first line centre who will bring the best out of him, and vice-versa.
Desharnais’ injury was a blessing in disguise for Alex Galchenyuk, whose future resides undoubtedly on the 1st line as a centre.
There is an undeniable chemistry between the captain and the budding star: Galchenyuk has 13 goals and 2 assists for 15 points in 16 games, while Pacioretty has racked up 3 goals and 10 assists in the same time span. The captain is producing at a much faster rate, jumping from 41 to 54 points in 15 games. In contrast, Desharnais only posted 5 points in 15 games prior to being injured, while Max Pacioretty put up 6 points. Clearly, Chucky is a much better fit. All he needs is to be given the chance to play on a more consistent basis to develop his confidence. However, under Therrien, DD will always pose as a threat to Galchenyuk’s development..
The problem with Desharnais lies largely on Therrien’s shoulders. Simply put, Desharnais is a by-product of Therrien’s system. He has been placed in a situation where he is demanded to perform at the level of a first line centre, when in fact, he is not, has never been, and never will be. Therrien’s fascination with the small centreman has worked to Desharnais’ detriment. Fans often blame Desharnais for not producing, but he was always a 3rd liner at best. One breakout season doesn’t always justify talent, yet it seems that Therrien and co. believes that it does. So long as Therrien is around, Desharnais will often, if not always, be favored on top of more talented players.
I believe that Desharnais can help the team if he is permanently placed on the 3rd line as a winger. Without the pressure to play like a superstar, Desharnais has speed and is more than capable of taking on a defensive role. Since the 2010-2011 season, he has only finished with a negative +/- twice (excluding the current season). However, it’s safe to say that Desharnais is also easily replaceable. Marc Bergevin is tremondously talented at acquiring 3rd line players who are more than capable of taking on DD’s role. No one would notice that he’s gone. The Habs should most likely try trading him, although he may not yield much in return. The most realistic rout would be to buy-out his contract and save space on the salary cap. In the end, he was never able to produce like a first-liner, because he never was one. Even if he wanted to prove that he could be, even if the coaching staff believed he was a star, everyone else always knew that he wasn’t. It’s unfortunate, because he could have been more appreciated if he was given a lesser role in past seasons. But, coulda-woulda-shoulda: it’s time for the Montreal Canadiens to cut David Desharnais loose.