Danault questions role with Habs after emergence of Suzuki, Kotkaniemi
Montreal Canadiens forward Philip Danault has been the team's No. 1 center for the past two seasons, but after his role shifted during the 2019-20 postseason, he's now unsure of his fit in Montreal.
The emergence of youngsters Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi during the playoffs often moved Danault to the third line in a much more defensive, shutdown role.
"I don't think I'm ready to accept that," Danault told TVA Sports in French of his new role, as translated by theScore. "I like producing offensively, and I know I can reach another level on offense. I don't know if I want to limit myself to a strictly defensive role. I don't think I can improve with strictly defensive assignments."
Danault has one year remaining on his current contract before becoming a free agent.
When asked if his role with the team will influence whether he stays in Montreal, the 27-year-old simply replied, "Yes."
"In the playoffs, the coaches wanted to see what the young players could do, and they shuffled the lines," he added. "My role has become strictly defensive, and I'm repeating myself, but I can bring more to the table than that."
During the postseason, Danault was bumped from his typical line with Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar numerous times in favor of Suzuki. During the 2019-20 season, the trio of forwards ranked first, second, and third in the league in Corsi For %.
Danault added that he's always had excellent chemistry with Gallagher and Tatar and that the line works.
Danault has excelled in his role with Montreal since arriving with little NHL experience during the 2015-16 season. He's combined to score 25 goals and add 75 assists in 152 games over the past two seasons.