2012-13 was shaping up to be another good season for David Desharnais, right
up to the point where he signed his contract extension. At that time, his
production went down and the fans grew more and more frustrated with him as the
season turned to the playoffs. Now with his new deal kicking in and more
competition for his spot as one of the top two centres in the lineup, can
Desharnais overcome the added pressure and get back to his 2011-12 form?
Looking at the numbers in general, it wasn’t too bad of a year for the
diminutive centre. Although he didn’t get back to the 0.74 PPG mark he had
in his first full campaign, he still put up better than a half a point per game.
However, his play dropped in the second half (just three goals in the final 26
games) while being erratic at the faceoff dot. Despite the struggles,
Desharnais still received considerable powerplay time and rarely was bumped past
the second line which contributed to the angst from the fans. His
struggles continued into the postseason where he collected just one point in
five games and looked overmatched at times.
Season Stats: 48 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS, -2 rating, 32 PIMS, 2
PPG, 3 GWG, 66 shots, 16:27 ATOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of
2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
Because of his lack of size and so-so defensive game, Desharnais is pretty much useless unless he’s on
an offensive line. As a result, he’s going to see considerable action in scoring roles;
there is a chance, however, that he finds himself on the wing if newly acquired
Daniel Briere struggles on the right wing which would require an adjustment as
he has been a full-time centre to date. If the Habs opt to role three
balanced offensive lines, he could be shuffled down from time to time but given
Michel Therrien’s commitment to him last year, he likely will have a long leash
and thus ample opportunities to stay in a top six role.
Even with Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller garnering more time on the man
advantage as expected, I don’t think it will be at the expense of Desharnais.
His playmaking skills are well suited for the powerplay as he can deftly set up
a teammate in the right spot. He may not approach three minutes per night
as he did last year but he will still be a fixture on one of the top two
units. Injuries forced Therrien to deploy Desharnais at times shorthanded
in the postseason but with the team largely healthy going into October, he
shouldn’t be seeing any time when the team is down a skater.
The overwhelming negativity that surrounds Desharnais may ultimately
undervalue him in some leagues which makes him an intriguing buy-low option.
The odds of him returning to 60-point form are low given how the offence is
spread around and the expectations that either Eller or Galchenyuk will cut into
his ice time slightly as their roles on the team increase. I’d expect a
slight bump in his powerplay points percentage (just 25% last year) but
don’t expect him to lead the team in that category as he did in 2011-12.
Unfortunately, Desharnais doesn’t provide a lot of the other ‘intangible’ stats
(hits, blocked shots, etc) which hurts his value somewhat. He’s not an
ideal top two fantasy centre but in deeper leagues, he’s a decent third option
or a terrific fourth which should place him as a mid round pick in most leagues
with a bit of upside.