One thing is for sure. Brian Gionta is not a scorer anymore. However, to think he has nothing left to contribute is to severely understate his value to this team.
STATS: 81 Games | 18 G-22 A = 40 P | 22 PIM | +1 | 45.4% Corsi | 4.4 Point Shares
PLAYOFFS: 17 games | 1 G-6 A = 7 P | 2 PIM | E | 46.8% Corsi
STORY: People may be surprised that Brian Gionta actually had 18 goals this season. He struggled at times offensively, but he was a major contributor to this Canadiens team. His responsibility defensively was huge on a team with young forwards.
He was also the captain of this team, and that cannot be understated either. In the playoffs, he found his role on the wing with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque where he was better placed than in a top-six role with Tomas Plekanec.
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Gionta’s goal in the regular season finale on a penalty shot in overtime was a nice finish to his season and gave him a little bit of life going into the playoffs. I feel that Gionta is a major part of this team this year and should be a part going forward.
Picturing Gionta as a failure is really due to unrealistic expectations. Gionta may have been signed as a top line forward but his role has adjusted since then. Judging him based on goals and assists is just not the right thing to do. He very rarely made a bad play any time he was on the ice. He was very good, just not the same player the Canadiens signed four years ago.
FUTURE: Gionta is probably the most complicated un-restricted free-agent the Canadiens have right now. He is the team captain coming off of a conference semi-final appearance. Teams just don’t get rid of their captains that easily.
Gionta wants to stay, and the team wants him to stay. However, the dollars must make sense – especially from Montreal’s perspective. He is what he is right now – a very good third line winger who can play on the penalty kill. He is a very useful player on any playoff team.
He is definitely going to get a pay cut from his $5 million contract he just finished. However, I would really like to see Gionta back in a Canadiens uniform. Not only do I think he is a great leader on this team, but the fact is if he does not come back, who fills his role on the third line? Dale Weise?
There is a spot on this Canadiens team for Gionta, but the dollars need to make sense.