Who is Phillip Danault?

Photo: Kevin Hoffman, USA Today Sports

Photo: Kevin Hoffman, USA Today Sports

On February 26th, 2016, the Montreal Canadiens announced the acquisition of Phillip Danault and a 2018 second round pick for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. Getting Danault. a 23-year-old NHL forward, and a second for two rentals is great value. While Weise brought many great moments to Habs Land, Bergevin made the correct decision moving

Phillip Danault has been on the radar for quite some time. Victoriaville nabbed him ninth overall in the 2009 QMJHL Entry Draft, and a year later, he was named their captain.

In 2011, Danault was selected 26th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. While he failed to make significant improvement in terms of offensive production over the following year, his two-way game continued to impress. In his final QMJHL season, Danault put up a career-best 85 points and 229 shots, by the far the best of his career. Furthermore, Danault represented Canada at the World Junior Championship. Danault finished his junior career with 251 points in 243 games.

The first year of professional hockey certainly didn’t go according to plan for Danault. The centreman ended up 12th in Rockford IceHogs scoring. The following season saw Danault take a big leap forward, improving to fourth in IceHogs scoring, and just six points back of the lead.

This season has seen Danault make the Chicago Blackhawks out of training camp, where he has been fairly good in a defensive role. Although he has not made an impact points-wise, he has in the defensive zone. He earned Peter Quenneville’s trust in important situations, even seeing penalty kill time every now and then.

Danault has been heralded as true team player with a lot of “intangibles.” He certainly competes every single shift he is on the ice, and will do anything, including blocking shots or fighting his way through traffic to help his team win. While he has been lauded as an excellent faceoff man, his winning percentage in the QMJHL was fairly average, and has been below-average in the NHL. He is an absolute warrior on the ice, and thrives in the tough areas.

Offensively, Danault isn’t quite as impressive. He does possess a powerful stride, with great top-end speed and good edge work, allowing him to fully utilize his motor across the ice. By no means is he goalscorer, but every now and then he can impress with his quick release. Offensively, his best skill is his vision. While he won’t impress with a fantastic saucer pass or cross-zone pass, he utilizes smart, short passes to find an open target. In order to create space for himself, he relies on his speed and body positioning, instead of stickhandling. His tenacity is also shown with powerful net drives and excellent work along the boards.

All-in-all, Danault is a young, NHL-ready forward with versatility to play both centre and wing. He has a tremendous on-ice motor, which is complimented with his great skating. He projects to be a shutdown third line centre who can chip in offensively from time to time. There’s still time that Danault’s playmaking can allow to make a more consistent mark on the score sheet. Considering his combination of work ethic, defensive skill, and hockey sense, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Danault can make an impact with the Canadiens down the stretch this season.

Tonight, Danault will be making his Montreal Canadiens debut versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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