David Desharnais Has Gotten The Short End of the Stick. But That May Be About To Change
David Desharnais is going to get an opportunity with Mika Zibanejad out with a concussion. After being a healthy scratch for three straight games, Alain Vigneault dressed the 5’7″ center against the Vancouver Canucks. Slated to be a healthy scratch again against the Florida Panthers until the Zibanejad injury; Desharnais saw almost 15 minutes of ice time.
He is not a first line center, let’s get that out of the way now, but he also is not a scratch player either. Over the summer the expectations for Desharnais were essentially for him to be a bottom-six forward. This is what he is even today, a bottom-nine forward.
Fans often fall into the thought of “a player is useless if he doesn’t score goals or rack up the assists”. That’s not sports though; there are role players and they play just as much importance as the top guys.
The Bottom Line
Over the summer, I said that I believe the David Desharnais signing would end up being the biggest move of the summer. I still stand by that. At times, many don’t take the player and the intangibles, they only take the bottom line. Going by that, then there is a bottom line to defend no. 51 also.
On this team, Desharnais is the third center; or JT Miller plays center and leaves a whole on the wing. The bottom line is that Desharnais is not a number three center on most, if not all, other teams in the NHL. Coming into the season, Jeff Gorton failed to provide a deep team with little holes. As a matter of fact, he left glaring holes this offseason, hoping to cover the holes with a rookie or inexperienced players this season. It clearly hasn’t worked and taken some tweaks to right the ship.
Desharnais has been put in bad spots more often than not and has received backlash for it. I believe that he is an important player because of his backchecking ability, as seen on an odd-man rush versus the Panthers, his face-off percentage (57%), and his intelligence as a player.
Desharnais will be in a difficult spot going forward until Mika Zibanejad comes back. It took about two periods for the Kreider, Desharnais and Buchnevich line to hit their stride. But the most impressive part of the game was watching the little guy forecheck behind the net and assist on three of the teams four goals.
Desharnais is going to get ostracized pretty regularly going forward. He is going to play with Kreider and Buchnevich at least for another game. That means that any downgrade in offensive output already has a scapegoat, a 5’7″ career bottom-nine forward.
I see Desharnais actually helping this line during Zibanejad’s absence. By no means is 51 better than 93, and again, by no means do I see 51 as a top line center. What I do see, however, is a first-line comprised of all are minus players, yet an average of 20 points. Buch is an offense first type of player and getting to play with a center like Desharnais in the interim, it could help him become a better overall player going forward.
For a whopping $1 million, Desharnais is a bargain player for the Rangers. He’s about to either be exposed or show his value while Mika is out. Regardless, Desharnais is not a player that should be scratched any longer, it’s time for him to play and sure up the bottom-nine of the roster when Zibanejad returns.