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#51 David Desharnais 2012-2013


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When Henrik Sedin gets sheltered minutes he produces 112, 94, and 81 points. Sheltered minutes is worth it at 112 and 94 points, it might not be at 81 points and it's certainly not worth it at 62 points.

I agree that whether we keep Plekanec or Desharnais should depend on the relative trade values.

No question Henrik is the better player. He also plays bigger minutes with more talented guys (not only his immediate line but his team in general). I think it's fair to say that by the end of last year, other teams knew DD's line was the only one that needed to be checked tightly, whereas Vancouver has had better depth. If we really wanted to be fussy, we could add that Henrik put up 36 points in his second season, albeit not playing 1st line minutes the way DD was. But it really wasn't until he had 5 years of pro experience that he really blossomed. The two guys really aren't great comparables, I admit, but I at least see value in giving DD a chance to prove what he can do. I would like to see how he fares with Bourque and Cole, for example because if he can still give us 60 points in that role, it allows us to use Pacman-Pleks-Gio as a 1st line and still get 60 out of DD as a second-liner...

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The sheltered offensive zone minutes gets pretty overstated when it comes to DD IMO. This year his offensive zone start % was 52.2%. That's right in line with or below a lot of other offensive players and doesn't even compare to what guys like Henrik Sedin get (78.6%) or Malkin (65.9%). In fact, he was 43rd in the league among centers in terms of offensive zone start %.

Has a player who posted 60 points in his first full NHL season ever been dismissed to this extent? Who knows, maybe last year was the best he can possibly ever be, but I wouldn't mind giving him at least one full season on a top scoring line before making that assessment.

As far as DD having superior wingers to other centers who outscored him, in addition to the points Ted already made, I'll add this: Who thought at the start of the year Max Pacioretty and Eric Cole were two of the best wingers in the league?

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As far as DD having superior wingers to other centers who outscored him, in addition to the points Ted already made, I'll add this: Who thought at the start of the year Max Pacioretty and Eric Cole were two of the best wingers in the league?

His wingers also benefited from sheltered minutes.

Pacioretty had 14 goals in 37 games last year as a 21 year old. His 33 goals in 79 games this year as a 22 year old is merely natural progression.

Further, they both benefited from Gionta's injury. Once that happens you know these two will get more opportunities, and nobody would have factored that in at the start of the year.

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His wingers also benefited from sheltered minutes.

Pacioretty had 14 goals in 37 games last year as a 21 year old. His 33 goals in 79 games this year as a 22 year old is merely natural progression.

Further, they both benefited from Gionta's injury. Once that happens you know these two will get more opportunities, and nobody would have factored that in at the start of the year.

Pacioretty has had a stellar past season-and-a-half. He was impressive playing with Gomez and Gionta, and he's been impressive playing with DD and Cole. He's actually shown that he can be a strong power forward playing with different guys.

I don't know if I'd say DD and Pacman benefited from Gio's injury. These guys were already the best line before Gio went down, so it's not like they suddenly got promotions. And with Gio out and Cammy traded, I'd say their jobs got harder because they were asked to carry a higher percentage of the offence and a larger amount of the other team's attention. I think things will get easier for them if we can build a second line that's equally strong.

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His wingers also benefited from sheltered minutes.

Pacioretty had 14 goals in 37 games last year as a 21 year old. His 33 goals in 79 games this year as a 22 year old is merely natural progression.

Further, they both benefited from Gionta's injury. Once that happens you know these two will get more opportunities, and nobody would have factored that in at the start of the year.

I agree on Pacioretty.

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Some numbers to clarify the discussion.

When playing 41 games at home, David Desharnais had 3:33 power play minutes per game, 0:26 penalty killing minutes, and 14:48 ES minutes per game. He produced 9 goals, 35 points and went +17.

When playing 40 games on the road, David Desharnais had 3:00 power play minutes per game, 0:28 penalty killing minutes, and 14:30 ES minutes per game. He produced 7 goals, 25 points and went -7.

When playing 40 games at home, Tomas Plekanec had 3:22 power play minutes per game, 3:03 penalty killing minutes, and 14:47 ES minutes per game. He produced 8 goals, 22 points and went -15.

When playing 41 games on the road, Tomas Plekanec had 2:48 power play minutes per game, 3:22 penalty killing minutes, and 14:06 ES minutes per game. He produced 9 goals, 30 points and went +0.

When playing at home and where the coach got to match lines, Desharnais produced 35 points in 41 games, a decent clip. However, on the road, when the other coach can respond, Desharnais's production drops by 37% ... he clearly benefited from preferential minutes.

*************

"Behind the Net" reports the statistic Corsi "QoC", basically, the higher the number, the tougher the average opponents faced by that player. The average for a team should be "0".

Tomas Plekanec had 0.727, Lars Eller had 0.429, David Desharnais had 0.007, Petteri Nokelainen had -0.021, and Scott Gomez had -0.820. I knew that DD faced much weaker competition than Plekanec. I didn't know that Desharnais faced substantially weaker competition than Eller.

For comparison, Josh Gorges and PK Subban scored 1.068 and 0.970, whereas Chris Campoli and Tomas Kaberle scored -0.494 and -0.561.

************

Another way to give preferred minutes is not just to pick opposition, but to pick faceoff location.

Tomas Plekanec took 1145 ES faceoffs last year. 308 were in the offensive zone, 411 were in the defensive zone, and 413 were in the neutral zone. That means 27% in the offensive zone, 36% in the defensive zone, and 36% in the neutral zone.

David Desharnais took 1051 ES faceoffs last year. 347 were in the offensive zone, 318 were in the defensive zone, 399 were in the neutral zone. That means 33% in the offensive zone, 30% in the defensive zone, and 38% in the neutral zone.

I'll note the total numbers don't add up because some of the information is from nhl.com, whereas the zonestarts is from "Behind the net", and includes the instances when the player was playing the shift as a winger.

************

The bottom line about DD is that he doesn't contribute on the PK, and he can produce at a 16 goal, 62 point pace when given two excellent wingers, disproportionate zone starts, esier opposition, and over 3 minutes a game of power play time. I just don't see that much room for him here moving forward once Galchenyuk emerges, but you never know.

He should be given the same opportunity at the start of next season, and one of Plekanec, Eller, or Desharnais should be gone at the deadline, probably one of Desharnais or Plekanec.

For me the question is how can we win a cup? I can visualize a cup win with Galchenyuk as #1C, and Plekanec and Eller being 2A/2B. It's hard to visualize a cup contender with Galchenyuk as #1C and Desharnais as #2C, because Desharnais won't be the 16 goal, 62 point player that Habs fandom is salivating over if he gets #2C linemates, offensive opportunities, defensive responsibilities, and power play time.

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DA, I don't disagree with the fact that DD got sheltered minutes. I completely believe that Plekanec is the better player and that he had a tougher job with less capable linemates. The debate here is not whether DD or Plekanec is the better player because if we were to trade on of them (which I think we both agree we probably should by next summer - unless Eller can establish himself as a top 6 LW) then the return on each player will be different. There's no question in my mind that if we have the same offer for both guys that we trade DD and keep Pleks.

The other question is how DD stacks up as a #1 center and again, I think we agree that he's not an ideal choice given his size and lack of ability to dominate a game. Galchenyuk is the guy we have who has the potential to fill that role and any of Eller, DD, or Pleks could be a suitable #2 in my opinion, if we surround theme with adequate linemates. The problem right now is not DD, it's that there isn't a second set of top 6 wingers to play with the #2 center.

But as far as evaluating what DD brings in his own right, I think it's fair to say that most centers on #1 lines tend to get PP minutes, tend to get the best wingers, and tend to get placed in offensive situations more than centers on other lines. In other words, none of these things are exclusive to DD. And yet, as a 2nd-year player (and in his first full season) playing in a depleted line-up he still managed to do better than 16 other #1 centers across the league playing that role too. Even if Gally or Pleks cuts into his ice time, if we can provide him with two top 6 wingers then I think DD could continue to put up 50-55 points a year and that's really not terrible for a second-line guy. The reason I'd consider dealing him is because I worry there may not even be room for him on a second line and in a third line role I agree that DD's value plummets because he's not getting any scoring support from his wingers and his defensive value is not that great. But if it somehow works out for DD that we have space to keep him in a top 6 role, I think he'll continue to be effective.

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Eller is a 3rd line center, and at best a 2nd line center.

Plekanec is a 2nd line center, not a #1 center, and too good as a #3 center.

Desharnais is a 2nd line center, not a #1 center, and not suited as a #3 center.

Galchenyuk will be the #1 center within 2 years.

So, up front, I'd be planning for:

UFA/Trade - Galchenyuk - UFA/Trade

Patches - Desharnais - Cole

Prust - Eller - LeBlanc

Moen - White - Gallagher

I like Plekanec alot. More than Eller and Desharnais. But Galchenyuk is going to need good wingers to form a real #1 line, finally. The Patches-Desharnais-Cole line is not a #1 line, last year, this year, or in 2 years. Its a great second line though and with a #1 center being drafted, damn, we're really going to be getting somewhere by 2014. Trading Plekanec in a package could bring in one of Galchenyuk's wingers, and the other could be acquired by UFA.

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Eller is a 3rd line center, and at best a 2nd line center.

Plekanec is a 2nd line center, not a #1 center, and too good as a #3 center.

Desharnais is a 2nd line center, not a #1 center, and not suited as a #3 center.

Galchenyuk will be the #1 center within 2 years.

So, up front, I'd be planning for:

UFA/Trade - Galchenyuk - UFA/Trade

Patches - Desharnais - Cole

Prust - Eller - LeBlanc

Moen - White - Gallagher

I like Plekanec alot. More than Eller and Desharnais. But Galchenyuk is going to need good wingers to form a real #1 line, finally. The Patches-Desharnais-Cole line is not a #1 line, last year, this year, or in 2 years. Its a great second line though and with a #1 center being drafted, damn, we're really going to be getting somewhere by 2014. Trading Plekanec in a package could bring in one of Galchenyuk's wingers, and the other could be acquired by UFA.

I don't think you can project a roster three years into the future with such detail.

Aside from that:

1) Gallagher will never be an effective 4th line winger. He is a small player and his skill is goal scoring. He makes it into the top-6 and becomes a Gionta-type player, or he doesn't make it. A plausible scenario is that he learns to dominate Hamilton over 2 years and eventually takes Gionta's spot. Another plausible scenario is that he becomes Corey Locke.

2) LeBlanc is spelled Leblanc, he isn't Irish.

3) I think Joonas Nattinen will eventually become a bottom-6 center for the Habs.

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A few posts back BCH pointed out something that I think is important to acknowledge: the sheltered minutes theory is overrated.

Let me flip the scenario completely: consider 3rd line centers who are face off specialists, do we overrate their ability to win face offs in the defensive zone? Do we consider it sheltering them when a line change is made specifically to win a f/o in your own zone? What some say is sheltered I call COACHING.

If the other team has tired legs on the ice after an icing you most definitely put your best offensive zone players on the ice, because you are maximizing their chance to succeed.

Defensively, if Carey freezes the puck after an onslaught in our zone, an intelligent coach is throwing his best defensive player/f-o man out there.

Does that mean we are sheltering a defensive players reputation as a shutdown guy, are we protecting our defensively weak offensive guys?

IMO, what were doing is called strategy.

DD certainly isn't Henrik Sedin but on OUR roster he's our best purely offensive center, so you employ him in situations that maximize his chance to succeed in his role. Whether or not you feel he's good enough for that role is one thing but every team uses their labelled number 1 center the exact same way.

Plekanec is good offensively and defensively and so you don't need to think about throwing him out there too much, he's always going to be ok.

To further hammer home my point, if you're down by 1 goal you aren't throwing a line centered by Nokelainen out there because you're setting your player up for failure. That's not sheltering that's asset management.

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A few posts back BCH pointed out something that I think is important to acknowledge: the sheltered minutes theory is overrated.

Let me flip the scenario completely: consider 3rd line centers who are face off specialists, do we overrate their ability to win face offs in the defensive zone? Do we consider it sheltering them when a line change is made specifically to win a f/o in your own zone? What some say is sheltered I call COACHING.

If the other team has tired legs on the ice after an icing you most definitely put your best offensive zone players on the ice, because you are maximizing their chance to succeed.

Defensively, if Carey freezes the puck after an onslaught in our zone, an intelligent coach is throwing his best defensive player/f-o man out there.

Does that mean we are sheltering a defensive players reputation as a shutdown guy, are we protecting our defensively weak offensive guys?

IMO, what were doing is called strategy.

DD certainly isn't Henrik Sedin but on OUR roster he's our best purely offensive center, so you employ him in situations that maximize his chance to succeed in his role. Whether or not you feel he's good enough for that role is one thing but every team uses their labelled number 1 center the exact same way.

Plekanec is good offensively and defensively and so you don't need to think about throwing him out there too much, he's always going to be ok.

To further hammer home my point, if you're down by 1 goal you aren't throwing a line centered by Nokelainen out there because you're setting your player up for failure. That's not sheltering that's asset management.

First of all, sheltered minutes doesn't just mean zone starts, Desharnais is sheltered but I wouldn't go as far as to say he's completely babied. When you look at his QoC, it's definitely lesser than Plekanec and Eller. Those guys are facing better competition.

Your argument seems to be defending the concept of sheltering players, or using different players in different roles but that's off base because no one would/should argue that it's bad to do that as a coach. The expectations of players in different roles change though and advanced stats do help us get a better grasp of what we should expect out of a player in a specific role. We should judge Desharnais' production much differently than Plekanec's. 60 points from a player who's facing much tougher competition is more impressive than a player playing sheltered, offensive minutes. With Desharnais my only question is, is what we're getting enough from a player in his role?

Also, Desharnais isn't our best offensive center, Plekanec is. His gift/curse is that he's also our best defensive center but if you were to put him in Desharnais' role there's no doubt in my mind he would easily out produce him.

The real question is, does 16 goals, 60 points justify our 2 best offensive wingers and being used in the best offensive situations? As for Desharnais getting better, he had a really high SH% and we had a high team SH% with him on the ice, his point total may just as easily regress.

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Agree. Plekanec put up 52 points, only eight fewer than DD, and that was despite being on the second PP much of the second half of the season. Not to mention the quality of his linemates, which started out fine (I may be mistaken but I think he had an almost PPG pace during the first 20 games) but gradually got worse to the point when he was flanked by White, Blunden, Staubitz...

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Agree. Plekanec put up 52 points, only eight fewer than DD, and that was despite being on the second PP much of the second half of the season. Not to mention the quality of his linemates, which started out fine (I may be mistaken but I think he had an almost PPG pace during the first 20 games) but gradually got worse to the point when he was flanked by White, Blunden, Staubitz...

Also, just as importantly he was facing much tougher match ups in a more defensive role.

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First of all, sheltered minutes doesn't just mean zone starts, Desharnais is sheltered but I wouldn't go as far as to say he's completely babied. When you look at his QoC, it's definitely lesser than Plekanec and Eller. Those guys are facing better competition.

Your argument seems to be defending the concept of sheltering players, or using different players in different roles but that's off base because no one would/should argue that it's bad to do that as a coach. The expectations of players in different roles change though and advanced stats do help us get a better grasp of what we should expect out of a player in a specific role. We should judge Desharnais' production much differently than Plekanec's. 60 points from a player who's facing much tougher competition is more impressive than a player playing sheltered, offensive minutes. With Desharnais my only question is, is what we're getting enough from a player in his role?

Also, Desharnais isn't our best offensive center, Plekanec is. His gift/curse is that he's also our best defensive center but if you were to put him in Desharnais' role there's no doubt in my mind he would easily out produce him.

The real question is, does 16 goals, 60 points justify our 2 best offensive wingers and being used in the best offensive situations? As for Desharnais getting better, he had a really high SH% and we had a high team SH% with him on the ice, his point total may just as easily regress.

I am not arguing that Desharnais is a better hockey player than Plekanec. That is silly.

My point of contention remains with the use of the word sheltered. If you read my post, I am not saying I think DD is a premier number 1 center and we should build the franchise around him, what I essentially am pointing out is that our coaching staff appropriately placed him in a position to succeed.

He is a unidimensional offensive hockey player so placing him with our best offensive wingers is smart. Playing him with Giona and Bourque for example against the other teams top lines is clearly not a recipe for success.

Furthermore, Plekanec , as you pointed out, is our best defensive center so if you flank him with Cole/PAC you are going to be imposing tougher defensive assignments on them. Again, some might call that sheltering Cole/PAC I call that a smart strategy.

Desharnais was placed in a role that best suited his and the teams needs. I am not debating whether or not he's good enough to be there in the first place what I am debating is the hyperbole of calling his minutes sheltered. They aren't, we designated him our first line offensive center by force of a weak roster and he was employed the same way all teams use their first line.

To be completely honest, the Habs coming season will be a relative success if DD repeats his exact same production, it's Plekanec that desperately needs more strategy and help in place to aid him maximize his superior overall game.

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The basic issue, which I think both champ and roy have pinpointed, isn't why we're sheltering Desharnais, or whether that's right, or even whether what we're doing can be called 'sheltering', but rather whether Desharnais's production is worth the sheltering he receives (without attaching any positive or negative valence to the act; all good coaches squeeze offense out of players who are about offense only). We're talking about 16 goals, 60 points, and what, on the surface, seems like a shooting percentage that might well regress. It's already debatable whether it's worth it to give DD those big minutes in the long term if all he's going to do is produce 60 points and 16 goals (Pacioretty and Cole had a few more points, but more importantly, each player doubled DD's goal total, and goals are worth more than assists). If a player gives you 80 points and 20-25 goals, then sheltering is fine, but if you're squeezing him dry just to get 60 points and 16 goals, it's not worth it.

That said, we have no choice but to use him as our top-line center at least until the trade deadline. If he maintains his current production, I would certainly explore trading him at the deadline while his value is high. I don't see a potential St. Louis when I look at him, to be honest. I just don't see the tools, the decision-making, and the elite consistency.

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I am not arguing that Desharnais is a better hockey player than Plekanec. That is silly.

My point of contention remains with the use of the word sheltered. If you read my post, I am not saying I think DD is a premier number 1 center and we should build the franchise around him, what I essentially am pointing out is that our coaching staff appropriately placed him in a position to succeed.

He is a unidimensional offensive hockey player so placing him with our best offensive wingers is smart. Playing him with Giona and Bourque for example against the other teams top lines is clearly not a recipe for success.

Furthermore, Plekanec , as you pointed out, is our best defensive center so if you flank him with Cole/PAC you are going to be imposing tougher defensive assignments on them. Again, some might call that sheltering Cole/PAC I call that a smart strategy.

Desharnais was placed in a role that best suited his and the teams needs. I am not debating whether or not he's good enough to be there in the first place what I am debating is the hyperbole of calling his minutes sheltered. They aren't, we designated him our first line offensive center by force of a weak roster and he was employed the same way all teams use their first line.

To be completely honest, the Habs coming season will be a relative success if DD repeats his exact same production, it's Plekanec that desperately needs more strategy and help in place to aid him maximize his superior overall game.

So you're essentially arguing semantics? His minutes are sheltered, you can call it putting him in the best position to succeed but the reality is it's the same thing. He's not the kind of player you can throw out there in any situation and his role needs to be massaged at times to get some level of production.

Anyway, the argument isn't about whether or not it's smart to shelter him, it's a question of if what he does provides much real value. If we're talking about a player who as you said only bring 1 dimension to the table and needs our 2 best wingers and massaged matchups to even get 15 goals and 60 points (which may have been luck aided) what's the value over replacement?

I mean, if we were to give Eller the same wingers and matchups what would we get? Or if we were to give Galchenyuk the same wingers and matchups?

I do like DD so I root for him, but he needs to get better next year to even be considered for the kind of role he's been put in.

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Again, the chasm between our views isn't that wide.

DD is our first line center. He's being used like a first line center, that remains my main point. You call it semantics but thats the point I was making. It's not sheltering, it's using what we got. There is a difference between those 2 views and the image they project.

All 3 of us can agree that DD is a likable feel good story that isn't a top notch NHL center. That is a certainty. My point was always he was being used because there's no one better available and required highlighting of his attributes.

Strip it all away, unfortunately for us habs fans on our roster:

Henrik Sedin = David Desharnais

Ryan Kesler = Tomas Plekanec

.... And that's why we finished in 15th.

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Plekanec is our best offensive AND defensive center. He should be treated as such, but it might make us less effective in the long run. Put Plekanec with Cole and Pacioretty and sure, he can hit 70-80 points. But then Eller has to be ready to shoulder a bigger defensive role, and what happens with DD's production without our two best wingers?

I love DD, he's a great player. But I think it is in our best interest as a team to try him with other linemates for a while and see what happens.

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It's an interesting debate as to whether it's worth sheltering DD. Without a doubt, he's unlikely to put up 80 points even under the best of conditions, but then again, only 9 players (including 5 centers) did last season, so perhaps that isn't a realistic goal. This isn't the NHL of 20-30 years ago where you could expect a number of players to hit 100 points in a year. At 60 points, DD still managed to beat out 16 other 1st-line centers in terms of point totals. And while some of the guys we're comparing DD to may have had tougher opposition, a lot of them also had superior linemates, more ice time to work with, and more NHL experience.

Let's envision a couple of scenarios:

1. DD remains on the top line but draws similar opposition to last year while teams focus on Plekanec. It's not impossible, given that Pleks' line should be better and Tomas is capable of putting up 60-70 points playing a two-way role. In that scenario, I'd venture that DD, having a full season on the top line instead of 75% of it (let's recall that he started the year in the bottom 6) and having built up chemistry with his linemates, should be able to build upon his production from last season and put up at least 65, if not 70-75 points. 65 points would have ranked him 11th among #1 centers, which is not too shabby. 70 points would have put him 8th. I think that in itself is reasonable production from your #1 guy, even if he doesn't play the best defensive game.

2. DD remains on the top line but draws stronger opposition. This is probably the most likely scenario to start the year and in this case, we would expect some drop-off in terms of his own points, but this could be partially balanced by natural progression, as noted above. So let's say he ends up in the 50-55 point range. This isn't all that outstanding for a #1 guy, but on the other hand, we'd have to factor in that Plekanec (and Eller) would draw weaker match-ups as a result. If DD's production drops 10 points but Plekanec and Eller both add 10-12 points, then the trade off might still be worth it. With Pleks at 65 points and DD at 50, the combined 115 points would actually be quite good for a 1-2 combination. There were only 6 teams in the league last year who boasted a 2nd center with at least 50 points, one of which was us.

3. DD is dropped to the "second line" playing with Bourque and Cole for example, while Pleks plays with Pacman and Gionta. Again here, DD is likely to get favorable match-ups and while one of his wingers depreciates talent-wise, we're talking about a drop-off from a 30-goal guy to a 20-goal guy, and I honestly believe DD could improve Bourque's output. I'd venture here as well that we'd be looking at an 8-10 point drop-off, which still leaves DD with more than 50 points and leaves him in the upper echelon of point production by a second-line center.

Obviously, the discussion is over-simplified and DD needs to get better in the face-off circle and in his own zone, but his point production has been quite adequate and in the absence of a true #1 guy who can rack up 90 points a season, DD and Pleks in whatever order we use them can actually be an effective 1-2 punch offensively. If and when Galchenyuk comes into the picture, that changes everything and his arrival would be the reason to make a change. But otherwise, I'd maintain that DD is not the problem and that our real need is to improve the second-line LW position.

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It's an interesting debate as to whether it's worth sheltering DD. Without a doubt, he's unlikely to put up 80 points even under the best of conditions, but then again, only 9 players (including 5 centers) did last season, so perhaps that isn't a realistic goal. This isn't the NHL of 20-30 years ago where you could expect a number of players to hit 100 points in a year. At 60 points, DD still managed to beat out 16 other 1st-line centers in terms of point totals. And while some of the guys we're comparing DD to may have had tougher opposition, a lot of them also had superior linemates, more ice time to work with, and more NHL experience.

Let's envision a couple of scenarios:

1. DD remains on the top line but draws similar opposition to last year while teams focus on Plekanec. It's not impossible, given that Pleks' line should be better and Tomas is capable of putting up 60-70 points playing a two-way role. In that scenario, I'd venture that DD, having a full season on the top line instead of 75% of it (let's recall that he started the year in the bottom 6) and having built up chemistry with his linemates, should be able to build upon his production from last season and put up at least 65, if not 70-75 points. 65 points would have ranked him 11th among #1 centers, which is not too shabby. 70 points would have put him 8th. I think that in itself is reasonable production from your #1 guy, even if he doesn't play the best defensive game.

2. DD remains on the top line but draws stronger opposition. This is probably the most likely scenario to start the year and in this case, we would expect some drop-off in terms of his own points, but this could be partially balanced by natural progression, as noted above. So let's say he ends up in the 50-55 point range. This isn't all that outstanding for a #1 guy, but on the other hand, we'd have to factor in that Plekanec (and Eller) would draw weaker match-ups as a result. If DD's production drops 10 points but Plekanec and Eller both add 10-12 points, then the trade off might still be worth it. With Pleks at 65 points and DD at 50, the combined 115 points would actually be quite good for a 1-2 combination. There were only 6 teams in the league last year who boasted a 2nd center with at least 50 points, one of which was us.

3. DD is dropped to the "second line" playing with Bourque and Cole for example, while Pleks plays with Pacman and Gionta. Again here, DD is likely to get favorable match-ups and while one of his wingers depreciates talent-wise, we're talking about a drop-off from a 30-goal guy to a 20-goal guy, and I honestly believe DD could improve Bourque's output. I'd venture here as well that we'd be looking at an 8-10 point drop-off, which still leaves DD with more than 50 points and leaves him in the upper echelon of point production by a second-line center.

Obviously, the discussion is over-simplified and DD needs to get better in the face-off circle and in his own zone, but his point production has been quite adequate and in the absence of a true #1 guy who can rack up 90 points a season, DD and Pleks in whatever order we use them can actually be an effective 1-2 punch offensively. If and when Galchenyuk comes into the picture, that changes everything and his arrival would be the reason to make a change. But otherwise, I'd maintain that DD is not the problem and that our real need is to improve the second-line LW position.

Excellent post.

I agree with the premise of your post almost entirely.

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It's an interesting debate as to whether it's worth sheltering DD. Without a doubt, he's unlikely to put up 80 points even under the best of conditions, but then again, only 9 players (including 5 centers) did last season, so perhaps that isn't a realistic goal. This isn't the NHL of 20-30 years ago where you could expect a number of players to hit 100 points in a year. At 60 points, DD still managed to beat out 16 other 1st-line centers in terms of point totals. And while some of the guys we're comparing DD to may have had tougher opposition, a lot of them also had superior linemates, more ice time to work with, and more NHL experience.

I don't know where the 80 point barometer came from but it's not black or white like that. It's not even simply that 60 points isn't enough to fill that role, 30 goals 30 assists fills the role a lot better than 15, 45. So there's some grey area and it definitely requires more depth than just points. Also, yes he was 20th in the league in scoring among centers (there are probably some listed who played more wing) but he played a full season and many of the guys below him did not. In terms of PPG among qualifying Cs, he was closer to 30th, tied with Rich Peverley but again, it's still not quite that simple.

1. DD remains on the top line but draws similar opposition to last year while teams focus on Plekanec. It's not impossible, given that Pleks' line should be better and Tomas is capable of putting up 60-70 points playing a two-way role. In that scenario, I'd venture that DD, having a full season on the top line instead of 75% of it (let's recall that he started the year in the bottom 6) and having built up chemistry with his linemates, should be able to build upon his production from last season and put up at least 65, if not 70-75 points. 65 points would have ranked him 11th among #1 centers, which is not too shabby. 70 points would have put him 8th. I think that in itself is reasonable production from your #1 guy, even if he doesn't play the best defensive game.

So here is the real issue, projecting his production next year. He had quite a high SH% and the team shot really high with him on the ice. Quite possibly significant luck factor in both. I'm not prepared to say his SH% must go down, some guys who generate very little SOG maintain a reasonably high SH% but it's no guarantee at all he sustains it. He will need to generate more than 100 SOG to be our first line, offensive center. Also there's a significant chance Cole drops by where between 5-10 goals. His SH% was higher than it normally is, his goal total was higher than it's ever been and he's going to be 34.

He'll probably need to improve to even match last year's total for points and improve further from there to get to the kinds of numbers we're talking about.

2. DD remains on the top line but draws stronger opposition. This is probably the most likely scenario to start the year and in this case, we would expect some drop-off in terms of his own points, but this could be partially balanced by natural progression, as noted above. So let's say he ends up in the 50-55 point range. This isn't all that outstanding for a #1 guy, but on the other hand, we'd have to factor in that Plekanec (and Eller) would draw weaker match-ups as a result. If DD's production drops 10 points but Plekanec and Eller both add 10-12 points, then the trade off might still be worth it. With Pleks at 65 points and DD at 50, the combined 115 points would actually be quite good for a 1-2 combination. There were only 6 teams in the league last year who boasted a 2nd center with at least 50 points, one of which was us.

It's not that that's a terrible solution but then we're getting to the point where Eller can probably do just as well, if not better in the same role with those linemates and minutes. The fact that Plekanec produced what he did with that low a SH% and that poor of a mix of line mates surprises me more and more as I think about it.

3. DD is dropped to the "second line" playing with Bourque and Cole for example, while Pleks plays with Pacman and Gionta. Again here, DD is likely to get favorable match-ups and while one of his wingers depreciates talent-wise, we're talking about a drop-off from a 30-goal guy to a 20-goal guy, and I honestly believe DD could improve Bourque's output. I'd venture here as well that we'd be looking at an 8-10 point drop-off, which still leaves DD with more than 50 points and leaves him in the upper echelon of point production by a second-line center.

It's not even so much that DD would improve Bourque's lineup as him getting away from the really tough match-ups Plekanec would draw or still tougher than DD match-ups Eller would draw would help his production. But this is the trap right, we're getting too carried away with raw stats when what really matters is what his value over replacement would be. His numbers maybe higher in that role, but anyone else's would be too. Are we really maximizing our assets in this scenario?

The second you start dropping Desharnais you're signing his death certificate IMO. The honest reality is that at this stage, he's Galchenyuk's place holder and that may only be for a year. Galchenyuk won't step in as a kid and take on Plekanec's role and I think mostly we agree that Eller has a brighter future, especially if the role is as a 3rd line, 2-way center behind Galchenyuk and Pleks. Desharnais is a good faceoff man, he has a pretty putrid start but he's solid enough, if he can be taught to kill penalties decently or play on the wing he could become a useful utility guy. I'd start getting creative with him if we fall out of the race this year and see if we can adapt him to a few other roles to give him some real use to us going forward. If his only actual use is a center who can put up 60 points in sheltered minutes, with our best wingers he's probably going to be useless soon. I think he can be more useful, in a different role and with less points but useful to a good team in a few other interesting ways.

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Going forward, I think he could still be a useful guy in a second or third line role if need be. He wouldn't make a good shutdown center, but then again we're always going to have Pleks or Eller in the lineup so it's not likely we'd want him to do that anyway.

I think he's just easy to play with. I seem to remember Cammy having some of his best stretches with DD, we know Cole certainly did. And so I do think he has it in him to squeeze out some good secondary scoring out of second or third line wingers. Even in his first half season when he was in the bottom 6 he was at a .5 PPG pace.

Throw in some PP time where he still one of our best, use him in the shootout where he seems to be one of the few who can score for whatever reason, and I think there's still a role for him on a contending version of this team if that's the way things shake out.

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I think he's just easy to play with. I seem to remember Cammy having some of his best stretches with DD, we know Cole certainly did. And so I do think he has it in him to squeeze out some good secondary scoring out of second or third line wingers. Even in his first half season when he was in the bottom 6 he was at a .5 PPG pace.

And I'm NOT trying to take away from Desharnais, but in terms of guys playing their best with him, you're also getting his better zone starts or much better match-ups. For Cammy, going from the Plekanec line to the Desharnais line is helpful regardless of Desharnais. Cammy never truly belonged with Plekanec as long as we intended to keep using Plekanec as our shutdown center.

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