David Desharnais has become somewhat of a lightning rod for many Montreal
fans. His lack of size is always a concern while his simply awful start
last season really turned up the heat. However, when all was said and
done, Desharnais surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second time in his
career. Will he duplicate that feat in 2014-15?
Let’s get the ugly out of the way first. Through 19 games last year,
Desharnais had recorded just a single assist; it took until Game 21 for him to
light the scoring lamp. After that though, he was a productive top line
centre with a point-per-game average at 0.83, finishing third on the team in
points (just one behind P.K. Subban). That wasn’t exactly the case in the
postseason, however, as Desharnais recorded just a pair of goals and six
assists, finishing just a single point ahead of fourth liners Dale Weise and
Daniel Briere in team scoring. It’s also safe to say he was handcuffed to
Max Pacioretty; Desharnais played over 75% of his regular season ice time with
Montreal’s goal leader while that total jumped to over 88% in the playoffs.
Season Stats: 79 GP, 16 G, 36 A, 52 PTS, +11 rating, 24 PIMS, 3
PPG, 2 GWG, 96 shots, 17:12 ATOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of
2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
It seems likely that Desharnais and Pacioretty will continue to be a duo so
all signs point to Desharnais reprising his role as Montreal’s top centre in
October. While many are hoping that Alex Galchenyuk will spend some time
at centre, it doesn’t seem likely that his time will come at the expense of
Desharnais as his size makes him a less-than-ideal candidate to play the wing.
If he and Pacioretty are separated, it’s still likely that Desharnais’ new line
will be an offensive one, meaning that he’ll still get his chances to put up
He should continue to see considerable powerplay time although it’s
conceivable that his per-game average may drop from the 2:41 per game he has in
2013-14 if the club decides to give Lars Eller more of a chance with the man
advantage. Desharnais didn’t see much of any time shorthanded last year
and with the likes of Eller and Tomas Plekanec ahead of him as two-way centres,
that’s going to be the case again in 2014-15.
I’m confident in projecting that Desharnais will get off to a better start
next year compared to the disaster from last season. However, I also don’t
expect him to finish on quite the high note as he did. When Thomas Vanek
moved up to the top line, that unit played at a level we haven’t seen for quite
a while in Montreal. With all due respect to Brendan Gallagher and
newly-acquired P-A Parenteau, they’re nowhere near Vanek’s level talent-wise.
But, assuming that Pacioretty continues to be one of the better scorers on the
left wing, Desharnais should be picking up quite a few assists along the way.
It’s reasonable to expect his output to be somewhere around where it was last
In standard-sized point leagues, Desharnais would be a decent second centre
or a high end number three with some upside. Once you start adding in some
extra categories though, his value drops. He’s going to have many more
assists than points so bump him down the rankings in leagues that award more
fantasy points for goals than assists. Desharnais also won’t provide much
in the way of shots on goal, something that not only drives fantasy owners nuts
but many fans as well. His small size prevents him from playing any sort
of physical game as well so don’t count on many hits and penalty minutes.
On the plus side, he’s durable having missed just four of a possible 273 games
since permanently joining the big club due to injuries/illnesses. With all this in
mind, he’s worthy of a pick likely just after the middle of the draft (or a tad
higher if your league values goals and assists equally).