Shortly after signing with his new club, forward Phillip Danault spoke with the local media on how it feels to be with the LA Kings.
As the NHL’s free agency period opened on Wednesday, a number of teams got busy right away. That included the LA Kings as they signed one of the most highly coveted free agents in two-way center Phillip Danault. On Wednesday afternoon, the now-former Montreal Canadien spoke with the Los Angeles media via Zoom about his signing, why he chose the LA Kings, and what he is looking forward to with his new team.
“I think it was a pretty obvious choice, to be honest,” Danault said of why he signed with the Kings. “[Kings management] wanted to demonstrate the most belief in me and they recognized what I did in the [playoffs] and during the season, as well. And yeah, they explained [to me the] role for the future as well and how they see me in the organization. They value me as a really high– top player, so it was an obvious choice and obviously knowing the history of the Kings, and really pumped to be here in Los Angeles.”
Danault on signing with LA Kings – It was a pretty obvious choice to be honest. They showed the most belief in me and understood what I've done the past few seasons. And they laid out my role moving forward.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) July 28, 2021
While he has offensive upside, the Danault brings to the table an exceptional defensive game who can be compared to Trevor Lewis but also to Jarret Stoll given his skill in the faceoff circle. Even better, the 28-year-old believes that his sharp defensive prowess will help him gel with another established defensive forward for the Kings.
“My two-way game has been always my strongest asset, obviously trying to deny some goals while also scoring some,” the 28-year-old noted. “Good passing as well, but it’s great to be behind a guy like Anze Kopitar. He’s been a Selke winner the last couple of years and Selke nominee as well a couple of times. So, it’s a really good model for me and obviously can release a little bit of pressure off his shoulders and checking from some big lines and big players every night, so he can focus more on his skill asset offense. But yeah, very proud to be [in Los Angeles.]”
In addition to his two-way game, Danault was brought to Los Angeles to be a mentor to the team’s younger corps. The former Victoriaville Tigre, however, was prepared before signing with the Kings, establishing his role with not only GM Rob Blake but other notable names within the organization.
“Yeah, Luc Robitaille was there, Todd [McLellan] was there, Rob [Blake] was there as well and [Kings Senior Director of Hockey Operations] Jake Goldberg, as well,” Danault explained of who was present when he signed. “They showed me a lot of belief, like I said. They were all over me the last couple of days and they told me about the role which they want me to do. They believe in my offensive side and they obviously told me about the young kids coming up and I could be a great mentor for these guys — Anze, Drew [Doughty], and Quicker. So, yeah, it’s been a crazy last couple of days but very happy to be there.”
Arguably the most notable name of the Kings’ younger corp is 2020’s second-overall draft choice, Quinton Byfield. While he is looking forward to suiting up with the former Sudbury Wolf, Danault admitted that he hasn’t seen as much of Byfield’s game as he would have hoped.
“Montreal, we play L.A. once or twice a year, so we don’t pay attention as much like they do with Montreal, I guess,” said the former Canadien. “But haven’t seen Quinton perform as well, so it seems like a fresh start totally. And obviously with the pandemic this year, [the Canadiens and Kings] didn’t see each other all year. So, it’s a fresh start then and it’s very exciting but I’m sure Quinton is an awesome player. I can’t wait to see all the boys down there and see the potential.”
Being signed to a six-year deal worth $5.5 million AAV, there will be arguments made against Phillip Danault’s contract being too long and-or too pricey. However, Danault’s talent and experience should make up for any apprehension. Among other facets in the 28-year-old’s game, though, is his performance in faceoffs, which is not something to take lightly.
Having established a career faceoff percentage of 52.5 percent thus far in the regular season, the native of Victoriaville, Que., stepped it up a notch in the playoffs, going 54.2 percent in the faceoff dot, showing just one reason why he was integral in Montreal’s unexpected Stanley Cup Finals run. Heck, the defensive specialist even shut down a daunting Vegas Golden Knights attack in the playoff semi-final — something that will come in handy for the Kings when they square off against their divisional rivals.
Shortly after Danault’s signing, the Kings also signed veteran blueliner Alex Edler to a one-year deal. So, unlike in previous years, the silver-and-black had a busy opening day of free agency — auspicious even. So, time will tell just how the Philip Danault signing works in Los Angeles. But, it’s so far, so good as the Kings prepare to start the new season embarking on their quest to get to the next level.