While the Coyotes were hoping that Max Domi would rebound after a quiet sophomore season, that didn’t exactly happen last year. Now that he’s in a new environment in Montreal, will he become more of a scoring threat?
After scoring just nine times in 59 games in 2016-17, the Coyotes were expecting Domi to at least get back to the 18 he put up in his rookie year. The sophomore slump was supposed to be over while he’d have a new centre in Derek Stepan to play with. That didn’t happen.
Instead, while Domi ranked third on the team in assists, his goal production didn’t change despite playing in 23 more games. As a result, his shooting percentage dropped to 6%, a career low. He also led the team in penalty minutes by a considerable margin (28 more than the next highest Coyote).
Midway through the season, Arizona opted to put Domi down the middle and dropped him to the third line in the process (playing behind Stepan and Christian Dvorak, his former junior teammate). While the experiment wasn’t a complete disaster, it’s telling that the Habs have no intention to even try him down the middle based on GM Marc Bergevin’s comments when he was acquired.
Around the trade deadline, head coach Rick Tocchet pulled the plug on that experiment and shifted him back to the wing. That seemed to spark him offensively as he recorded 19 points in 22 games after that span which certainly allowed him to end his year on a high note. The Habs are clearly hoping that performance is a sign of things to come.
All in all, while Domi still put up a respectable 45 points, it still was a down year for him overall. Instead of being someone who appeared to be on the trajectory of being a legitimate top-line player like he was in his rookie year, he was bouncing around the middle-six while having to contend with a position change for a while as well. That’s a bit of a fall from grace no matter what you might think of Domi’s potential to rebound.
3 Year Averages
As things stand, Domi projects to be the number two left winger behind Max Pacioretty. Of course, with all of the speculation surrounding Pacioretty’s future with the team, that might not be the case for long. But since Pacioretty is still around for now, let’s work the projections based on that.
A second line spot has Domi set up to play alongside one of Jonathan Drouin or Phillip Danault and his role in those situations would be very different. Alongside Drouin, he’d be in more of an offensive-minded role and wouldn’t have the puck on his stick as often. With Danault, he’d be in a two-way situation (Domi is much more defensively conscientious than Alex Galchenyuk who he was dealt for) and the chances are that he would have the puck a lot more often as Danault isn’t the type of player to hang onto it for very long.
Domi has never been much of a power play producer – the most points he had with the man advantage was 15 back in his rookie season and his power play point percentage has dropped in each of the last two years, hitting just 20% in 2017-18 despite averaging over 2:30 per night in that situation. That could go up a bit in Montreal but there’s a good chance that he’s more of a five-on-five threat than a real special teams weapon.
While many Montreal fans are down on the deal, Domi has still been relatively productive and should do so again next season. His 83 points over the past two seasons tie him for the third most among all Habs (behind Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin, tied with Brendan Gallagher) so at the very least he’s going to put up respectable numbers. That probably won’t be enough to make people forget about Galchenyuk but Domi should still be an impact performer in his own right.
Given his declining goal output, he needs to be lowered in the rankings for leagues that put extra emphasis on scoring. Even if he rebounds, he’s probably not popping home 20 goals. I think he could wind up being a little undervalued for leagues that have hits as a category, however. His career high in hits was 49 (last season) but he’s heading to a team whose home scorekeepers have an extremely liberal definition of what a hit is. As someone that plays a high-energy style, I wouldn’t be shocked if he comes close to doubling that total with most of those coming on home ice.
Positional flexibility could help boost him in the rankings as well. He currently is C/LW eligible in Yahoo pools while CBS and ESPN have him exclusively at centre. Considering that he’s set to be a winger in Montreal, he should get winger eligibility fairly quickly on those platforms and they often don’t eliminate a players’ previous position once it has been established. Having an extra C/W option on the roster is never a bad thing.
In a standard 12-team league, he’s a late wildcard at best. However, in deeper leagues, Domi should be a mid-to-late round pick that serves as a capable third-line fantasy point getter.