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Ever since his acquisition as a free agent in the summer of 2009, and the departure of longtime captain Saku Koivu, Brian Gionta has been the de facto leader of the Habs. He came from an organization that had a culture of winning and with his playoff experience and Stanley Cup ring he was bound to command respect in the dressing room.
Last season saw Brian Gionta play a full season of 82 games for only the third time in his career and he posted another 46 point season, equaling his total for his first campaign with the Habs. His stats were achieved while playing alongside a centre in Scott Gomez who had a very disappointing year and a revolving set of left wingers, especially after the injury to Max Pacioretty.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 29 goals, 17 assists, +3, 24 PIMS, 7 PPG, 2 SHG, 6 GWG, 298 shots
5-Year AveragesGP: 74
Gionta will probably continue to play on a line with Scott Gomez and possibly Pacioretty after his return from injury. The line will likely get 2nd line minutes and avoid the opposition's top players. He will also get time on the 2nd PP unit as well as some PK time which should help his statistics. The presence of Pacioretty on this line frees up a lot of space for the diminutive Gionta as was shown last year prior to Pacioretty’s injury. He will be relied upon mainly for his goal scoring, especially 5-on-5, as he is regularly among the league-leaders in shots.
The Canadiens are still looking for Gionta and Gomez to capture lighting in a bottle as they did in 2005-06 with the New Jersey Devils when they both had career years but seeing as that season seems to be more of an outlier than the norm the chances are pretty slim. That being said, Gomez is bound to have a bounce back year after the disappointment of last season which should help Gionta’s numbers as he is involved in the setup of most of Gionta’s goals. Look for him to improve slightly over last year with the improvement of Gomez and the extended presence of Pacioretty.
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- Fantasy Focus: Max Pacioretty posted by B. La Rose