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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
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 points.
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 year.
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).
Have Your Say
- Fantasy Focus: P-A Parenteau posted by B. La Rose
- Fantasy Focus: Carey Price posted by Matt Dilworth
- Fantasy Focus: Brendan Gallagher posted by Alex Létourneau
- Fantasy Focus: Tomas Plekanec posted by Alex Létourneau
- Fantasy Focus: Max Pacioretty posted by Matt Dilworth
- Fantasy Focus: P.K. Subban posted by Matt Dilworth