Did Phillip Danault shoot himself in the foot?

Published July 28, 2021 at 8:05 PM

Unfortunately, at the end of this crazy day in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens haven't been able to retain the services of their center, Phillip Danault. The Quebecer made the decision to leave the Tricolore to sign a lucrative six-year deal that will pay him $33 million ($5.5 million AAV).

But can we really blame Danault? After spending six seasons in the Canadiens' uniform, the Victoriaville native may have needed a change of scenery. With the constant media pressure in Montreal, it's not impossible that the 28-year-old center wanted to go somewhere more peaceful.

However, there is a risk to Danault in Los Angeles. He admitted that the risk of seeing his ice time diminish because of the emergence of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi was scary. However, he decided to join a team that has two prospects selected in the top-5 in the 2019 and 2020 drafts: Alex Turcotte (5th overall in 2019) and Quinton Byfield (2nd overall in 2020).

Granted, both young players have yet to play on a regular basis in the NHL, but they could make the jump pretty quickly and unseat Phillip Danault sooner than he thinks. Remember that there is still a certain Anze Kopitar on the Los Angeles side and he performed quite well with his 50 points in 56 games last year. In addition, there is also Gabriel Vilardi, 21 years old, who had 23 points in 54 games last year and who plays the center position. That's a lot of people at that position!

The good news for Danault is that he has a six-year deal in place. So, if Turcotte and Byfield emerge sooner than expected, there is a good chance that Danault will start to move down the Kings' lineup unless he is traded. Even so, if his playing time is reduced, his salary will remain the same through the 2026-2027 season.
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