The Los Angeles Kings have made a big splash on the first day of free agency. The Kings have signed forward Phillip Danault to a six-year contract with an annual average value of $5.5M.
Danault spent the first two years of his career as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks before spending the last six years with the Montreal Canadiens.
Back in January of this year, Phillip Danault turned down a six-year, $30M deal with an annual average value of $5M offered by the Canadiens. At the time, this decision by Danault left a lot of fans scratching their head. Turns out it was a pretty good decision by the Canadian-born center. Danault ended up getting the same term but receiving $500K more per year.
A big factor in Danault's big payday was his play in the 2021 NHL Playoffs. He was a major part of the Canadiens' unexpected Stanely Cup Final run.
Danault has never been terrific at putting the puck in the net, but he is a terrific defensive centreman. His play on the defensive end was on full display during the 2021 Playoffs as Danault was often responsible for sticking on the opposing team's best players.
In round 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Danault held Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews to a combined one goal.
MacKinnon with high praise for Danault
Danault's play as a terrific defensive center is evidently recognized around the league, as well, as Nathan Mackinnon had high praise for the now LA Kings forward back in January of this year.
"I think an underrated guy would be Phillip Danault in Montreal. I think he should ... I don't know if he's in Selke regonition, but he should be. He's so hard to play against. He's such a good centreman, man. He's all over me everytime we play Montreal, home or away. I find it's definetely really hard to get space against him. Hopefully he earns a Selke one day. I think he desereves it. I think he's good against everybody, not just me."Nathan MacKinnon with high praise for Phillip Danault in January 2021
You know you're doing something right if one of the best goal scorers in the league calls you a terrific defender. Danault is a big piece in the Kings' attempt to exit their rebuild and re-enter playoff contention.