Acquired in the summer of 2009, Mathieu Darche’s arrival came with little fanfare. Pegged as a veteran mentor for the youngsters in Hamilton, Darche was not expected to have a significant impact at the NHL level. However, upon his call up late in 2009-10, the energetic veteran quickly made his presence felt, providing dynamism, grit and additional scoring to the team’s checking lines. Last season, the St-Laurent native continued to impress, posting career bests in goals and points. Looking towards 2011-12, can Darche improve on his numbers while playing mainly in a bottom-six role?
Although he had just signed the first one-way contract of his career, last season began rather bumpily for Mathieu Darche. Underwhelmed by his first contest, Jacques Martin sat the forward for four of the following five games. However, once Darche reintegrated the lineup, he became very difficult to displace. A fairly consistent offensive contributor, the winger also proved he, and his 6-feet-1 frame, could be quite useful on the powerplay, where he would obtain seven of his 26 points. In spite of missing 17 contests due to injuries later in February and March, Darche still managed to achieve career bests in most offensive categories.
Season Stats: 59 GP, 12 goals, 14 assists, + 7, 10 PIM, 2 PPG, 5 PPA, 1 GWG, 90 shots, 11:16 TOI
3 Year Average
(Since Darche has only become a full time NHLer recently, his three most recent NHL campaigns were used to create an average.)
With Jeff Halpern, Benoit Pouliot and Tom Pyatt being let go in the summer, Mathieu Darche is almost certain to have a prominent role on the squad’s checking units. In 2010-11, Darche played an average of 1:21 on the man advantage, but with the addition of Erik Cole and the return to health of Max Pacioretty, he will not see the same amount of powerplay time. By the same token, however, it also seems far less likely that he will be made a healthy scratch as he was early in 2010.
Mathieu Darche has shown that he can be a solid secondary contributor throughout his career. While not spectacular, he seems like a safe bet to hit the 25 point plateau, especially if his health remains favorable throughout the season. Even if he does participate in an additional amount of games, it still remains difficult to imagine him vastly surpassing his numbers from last year. With man-advantage minutes less likely to be granted to him, he will simply not be afforded to same opportunities. In a deep league, he can be relied on for between 25-30 points. Otherwise, Darche is of minimal fantasy value, especially since his penalty minute totals are negligible.
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Louis Moustakas is an editor at HabsWorld.net and works for the Coaching Association of Canada in Ottawa. He can be reached at [email protected]