Phillip Danault debuted in the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014-2015 season. Danault was drafted in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 26th overall pick. He only played two games in the 2014-2015 season and failed to record any points.
But, in the 2015-2016 season, his playing time and production went up. In 51 games, Danault had four goals and six assists for ten points. And in the middle of that season, he was traded from Chicago, along with a 2018 second-round pick, to Montreal for left winger Tomas Fleischmann, who is now retired, and right winger Dale Weise, who does not currently play at the NHL level.
By those two facts alone, it’s evident that Montreal won that trade because, during his time as a Canadien, he recorded 194 points (54 goals, 140 assists) in 360 career games. However, he has never been lauded for his offensive abilities, but rather for his defensive abilities and his work ethic.
Heading into the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, his coach at the QMJHL level had this to say about him:
"“He’s a tremendous worker. He’s dedicated to the game, but now he’s taking more and more leadership and it’s contagious. He has the admiration of every single one of his teammates just on how hard he works. He’ll bring work ethic, dedication and leadership. His passion for the game is unique because he’s the most passionate kid I’ve ever coached. He plays with pride; he’s not the type of kid who thinks he’s better than the next guy, but he challenges himself to be as good if not better.”"
Then, after he spent a few seasons with the Canadiens organization, another scouting report for him looked like this:
"“All of Danault’s strongest assets enable him to play a responsible transition game while minimizing mistakes. The centreman has good acceleration, which allows him to track opponents while on the backcheck. He has good body positioning, always staying close to his man and is therefore able to keep opponents from finding inside lanes.Danault’s relative-shots-against heat map shows that his team is able to keep slot shots down at a much higher rate while he is on the ice. After retrieving the puck, he can use his hard first pass to release his wingers on a counter-attack or use his acceleration to carry the puck and gain the offensive zone.He isn’t the flashiest puck-handler, but he has good control of his skating and balance, allowing him to get to areas quickly and catch opponents trying to set their positioning on him off guard.”"
All of these characteristics embodied in one player make it a nightmare for opposing teams and coaches to play against Phillip Danault. And this is precisely why he is Connor McDavid’s kryptonite.
In the last two seasons, the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers have played eight games against one another, and the statistics prove that Phillip Danault has been able to shut down arguably the greatest offensive scorer in the game.
As a centerman who is prolific is forechecking, backchecking, and has good acceleration that allows him to cause havoc in transition, it’s no wonder that Connor McDavid is having difficulty finding the back of the net.
In the past two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Connor McDavid has been held to one point and zero goals.
For a guy that just came off of a 150-point season and his offense to just die as it has, there is something to be said about the success that Phillip Danault is having against him. McDavid is clearly more successful whenever Danault is not on the ice, but so far in these playoffs McDavid hasn’t been able to find success against the Kings.
That is in large part due to the play of Phillip Danault. What an incredible offseason signing in the summer of 2021 by General Manager Rob Blake. Danault’s contract is set to expire after the 2026-2027 season and hopefully will finish his career in Los Angeles.
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