by Christopher Nardella, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Phillip Danault (Photo by Getty Images)
Phillip Danault (Photo by Getty Images)

POINTE CLAIRE, QC. — With the trade deadline a few days away Marc Bergevin dispatched Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to Chicago obtaining former first rounder Phillip Danault and a 2018 second round pick. According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Canadiens will eat 30 per cent of Weise’s salary.

The pervasive anxiety among Habs fans is that in acquiring Danault, the Canadiens garnered yet another bottom-six forward with little-to-no offensive capabilities. The former 26th overall pick was very highly regarded in the Blackhawks system and with good reason.

The 6-foot centreman is a resplendent skater, a great penalty killer and has what’s on the Habs’ perpetually wish list: he’s a character guy who gives all he’s got. Danault is an energy player with great defensive abilities and leadership qualities that got him the captaincy with Victoriaville of the QMJHL. ESPN hockey writer Corey Pronman had this to say on the newest Hab, “I’ve seen [Danault] go to the dressing room bleeding and back on the ice within minutes.”

As Bergevin mentioned in a statement following the acquisition, he was a part of the management group that selected Danault 26th overall in the 2011 draft. He also described the former Victoriaville Tiger captain as “part of [the Canadiens’] core group of young forwards for many years to come.” The move most likely signals the end of Lars Eller’s time in Montreal, with the Canadiens’ superfluity of bottom-six talent with the likes of Jacob De La Rose and Danault. Eller has perpetually been of interest to GM’s around the league and his consistent play this season has his value at its extrema, but one would justifiably wonder whether he is more deserving of a roster spot over David Desharnais.

For a time, Philip Danault was anchoring Chicago’s third line and, despite his meager five points in 30 games in the Windy City, garnered high praise from members of the coaching staff. “(Danault) has been helping our team game,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. “That’s giving us way more balance than we had earlier in the year.”

The majority of the Habs fan base wasn’t heading into February 29th with aspirations of acquiring a shutdown centerman, however, a player like the Victoriaville, Quebec native could be a key piece down the road without addressing the team’s scoring need. The majority of the chagrin regarding Danault is he doesn’t address the team’s palpable need however that doesn’t mean the deal is inconsequential to the team’s success both now and in the future. He shores up a spot that the Canadiens don’t have to worry about anymore especially with the profusion of prospects coming through the ranks.

A late second to early third round pick was the perceived stipulation for Dale Weise, so when most were apprised that the return was in 2018 there was an uneasiness among the fan base. Due to the fact many believe a pick from this year’s draft was being made available, people were, somewhat, justifiably furious at Marc Bergevin who’s had a grim 2015-16. Nevertheless, the pick will have more value in 2018 then it will in this year’s draft with the Blackhawks at the top of the standings. Considering Bergevin received the player that he wanted in Danault, he can make that concession and have a future second round pick coming the other way. It’s more a testament to the team’s admiration of Danault than of Bergevin doing his old team a favour as some suggested.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been a model of consistency and excellence over the past five seasons and have further supplemented their offensive core with the acquisitions of Fleischmann and Weise. With Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa preceding him on the depth chart of a championship roster, Weise won’t have the “problem” he had in Montreal, of being played out of his role, which should lead to success in Chi-Town. With the eventual likely line mates of Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw, Weise doesn’t have to be the more physical or most offensively gifted on that line as he had to be in Montreal.

Fleischmann had a torrent start to his time in Quebec’s hockey capital, drastically dropping off with the rest of his once productive linemates. Fleischmann has talent with good speed and some of the best hands on the team, more a testament to the lack of skill on the roster. He will likely be a healthy scratch for the majority of games there aren’t injuries but isn’t a putrid option out of the press box.

The unfortunate part of this transaction is that Weise truly had his roots deeply seated in Montreal’s soil. This is the town that gave him his first legitimate shot at becoming an 82-game player, the team where he established himself as an effective NHL player and where he was so adored. Weise mentioned on many occasions that he wished to spend his career in Montreal.

J-F Chaumont’s of LaPresse tweeted this out on Friday night, “Dale Weise’s agent confirms that his client won’t rule out the idea of returning to Montreal next season.” Weise said goodbye for now to Montreal via his Twitter account “It’s been amazing playing here, I’ve loved my time. Thanks for all the support…Lots of gratitude to Geoff Molson and the Montreal Canadiens.”

And the last word goes to Weise’s closest friend on the team..