David Desharnais has been one of those players who has been forever dogged with the
dreaded question mark. Is he fast enough? Can he overcome his size?
Will he be able to learn to play the defensive side of the game? Last
season, he took a big step towards proving the doubters wrong. So here’s
another question, how might his 2011-12 season play out stats wise?
Last season saw Desharnais back in his familiar role with Hamilton as the
team’s #1 centre. He was, for a time, the league’s top point producer
which earned him a permanent recall on December 31st after Maxim Lapierre was
dealt. His time with the Habs started off relatively strong (he had 3 sets
of 3+ game point streaks by mid-March) before tailing off completely, earning
just 1 assist in his last 14 games (playoffs included). He was also
goalless in the last 21 contests.
Season Stats: 43 GP, 8
goals, 14 assists, -3, 12 PIMS, 4 PPG, 0 GWG, 55 shots, 12:52 TOI
Per-82 game averages
(Since Desharnais is still too young to look at 5-year trends, here
are his career numbers averaged out over an 82-game season.)
While most of the more prominent players more or less have their roles defined,
Desharnais doesn’t. He could play on the wing (which may allow him to play
on an offensive minded 3rd line) or he could stay at centre and play on either
of the bottom two trios. The common element is that he will be in the
bottom six which means his offensive chances will be somewhat limited. The
addition of Erik Cole and the return of Max Pacioretty makes it questionable
that he’ll see any powerplay time beyond spot shifts at the end of the man
advantage. He was being used more often on the penalty kill late in the
year; if that continues, he’ll likely wind up with a similar average time on ice
of around 12-14 minutes per game.
In trying to project his stats, there is a big ‘if factor.’ If there
are injuries, Desharnais will have a shot at powerplay time and perhaps a top-6
role, which would be a boon for his numbers. On the other hand, if the
team is relatively healthy, he’ll see little time in prime offensive situations
and a point total in the low to mid 20’s isn’t entirely unrealistic. Be
wary of selecting him in your upcoming drafts unless you’re looking at him as a
late round flyer but be sure to snap him up if there are injuries as Desharnais
will surely stand to benefit.