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MacKinnon Singles Out Canadiens Forward As Top Underrated Player

Nathan MacKinnon had high praise for Canadiens center Phillip Danault.

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There are certain NHL players that carry a little extra weight when they speak. At 25, Nathan MacKinnon is becoming one of those voices within the league. I sincerely think that he and the Colorado Avalanche are destined to win a Stanley Cup. If so, the young Nova Scotian’s word will become even more prominent.

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In the meantime, his voice still carries, and MacKinnon may have surprised some folks by singling out Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault as one of the leagues toughest players to match up against.

As a guest on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast (see above tweet) this past Wednesday, MacKinnon had this to say:

Such a good centreman, it’s hard to get space on him. I don’t know if he’s in Selke talks but he should be, hopefully he wins one. Good vs everyone not just me.”

Danault’s Story

Danault is a former first-round selection (26th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011. Soon after starting his NHL career in Chicago (2015-16), he was then acquired by the Montreal Canadiens (and a second-round 2018 pick) for forwards Dale Weise and Tomáš Fleischmann. The Victoriaville native has since etched out a definitive role within the Canadiens top six forwards.

Phillip Danault Montreal Canadiens
Phillip Danault Montreal Canadiens

The 27-year-old once eclipsed the 50-point mark in 2018-19 when he collected 12 goals and 41 (53) assists over 81 games. Those offensive numbers place him in a steady and reliable category – far from a juggernaut. So far this season, the big man has registered three assists in the first six games.

More Well-Rounded Than Just Straight Offense

However, offensive productivity is clearly not the focal point of his game – as described by MacKinnon. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Danault has the size, strength, and skating ability to be a very good two-way center for a long time. The former Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL) is on the last of a three-year contract at an AAV of $3,083,333 before he reaches UFA status.

Canadiens Center Phillip Danault

I would have to guess that the recent praise from MacKinnon will be a boon for Danault during his upcoming contract negotiations. Translation: he owes him at least a steak dinner the next time the two are in the same vicinity.

NEXT: Canadiens On Top of NHL North Division Despite Carey Price Struggles

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