Max Domi’s impact on the Habs was unexpected last season, rising to the top center of the team and leading them in scoring. Will he be able to continue that important role for the Habs in 2019-20?
Max got off to a rough start in his Habs debut. During a pre-season game against Florida, Domi retaliated to a slash by defenceman Aaron Ekblad, by trying to goad him into a fight. After multiple attempts of jabbing him with his glove got no response to begin a fight from Ekblad, Domi dropped one glove and punched him in the face which dropped Ekblad to the ice. For that, he was assessed a roughing and match penalty. Later after the NHL Department of Player Safety reviewed the play, they announced Domi was suspended by the rest of the preseason.
Although the punishment did not cost Domi any money or any games in the regular season, there was a cost to the team. Domi was asked to play center for the Habs in training camp, a position he rarely played in Arizona as he was usually slotted on the wing. The experiment to try him at center was partly due to the Habs lack of depth at that position, and since Max had played the position a little at the junior level, it was worth the risk. Missing time down the middle for the rest of the preseason was a setback to him and to the team.
Once the regular season was underway and Domi was eligible to play, he did extremely well. Not only did he lead the team in scoring with 72 points, it was a career high for him as well, helping him ascend to fulfill his potential as a first-round pick. Max represents the first Canadien’s center to score 70+ points since Saku Koivu did so in 2007-08.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 28 Goals, 48 Assists, 72 Points, +20 rating, 80 PIMS, 4 PPG, 2 GWG, 203 Shots
4 Year Averages:
Expect Max to continue as the top center on the Canadiens squad for the upcoming season. His energy, consistency, two-way play and offensive skill make him the perfect fit for the role.
With young centers Ryan Poehling and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the fold, they will require some maturing and adjusting to the pro ranks for this season and perhaps longer. Their development will not impact Domi for the 2019-20 season, however, future seasons may change this scenario.
Prior to the start of last season, Habs fans were not sure what to expect from trading Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi. The departure of a home-grown center who had untapped potential yet had scored 30 goals once in his career seemed like a disappointing move. One season later, the trade is hugely lopsided for the Habs, as Galchenyuk disappointed in his one season in Arizona leading to an offseason trade to Pittsburgh.
His left wing linemate from last season was Jonathan Drouin who should reappear with Domi for the new season. The two had decent chemistry together, and even though Drouin’s scoring dried up during the last third of the season, Domi continued to produce. Domi’s right winger for most of last season was Andrew Shaw, who blended in well with both forwards to hit a career high with 47 points, despite missing 19 games. A replacement will be needed. Brendan Gallagher would be the logical replacement but his role on the 2nd line is important since that line was an exceptional trio for the team all season, and rarely were they disbanded. Auditioning for this top line will likely include veterans Joel Armia and Paul Byron. Artturi Lehkonen is another option, or a rookie prospect like Nick Suzuki may surprise everyone to steal the position.
It’s going to be tough for Max to improve upon his 2018-19 career season. However he is only 24 years old, so it’s possible he could slip a little or rise a bit. It’s not likely he would drop much in scoring, although if the team could turn around their power play woes, then Domi could easily surpass his personal best.