For two years, Max Domi patiently waited for his chance in the NHL, trapped in the Ontario Hockey League despite being a 1st round pick in 2013. In 2015-16, Domi exploded onto the scene in Arizona and morphed into the face of the Coyotes’ rebuilding process.
Ironic that a punch to the face of the Calgary Flames’ Garnet Hathaway epitomized the underwhelming sophomore encore Domi concocted this year.
After cracking the 50-point barrier in his first year in the NHL, Domi struggled to reach 50 appearances this year, thanks to a broken hand in the aforementioned fight that left him sidelined for six weeks during the middle of the campaign. However, there was more to the young winger’s season than just the controversial injury; as was the case with most second-year Coyotes in 2016-17, Domi took a noticeable step backward. The Winnipeg native could hardly have started his career any better two years ago. Not only did he produce offensively, Domi managed a positive plus/minus rating (+3) and tacked on an impressive 15 power-play points. Those numbers dipped this year to -9 and 8 respectively.
Part of Domi’s struggles this past season (9 goals, 29 assists, 38 points, 0.64 points/game) can be marked down to Anthony Duclair’s disaster of a season, and the midseason departure of Martin Hanzal. However, those factors don’t completely excuse Domi’s drop off in production. The crafty youngster mustered just 53% of power-play points this year compared to his 2015-16 efforts, while also seeing his goal-scoring output cut in half (18 in 2015-16, 9 in 2016-17).
What this year really showed is that Domi isn’t ready to lead the team on his own. Not by a long shot.
That’s not to say Domi will never be able to single-handedly ignite the Coyotes offense moving forward, but his performance this past season tampered the sky-high expectations he created for himself during his debut year.
If we learned anything from the Coyotes third-bottom finish in the standings, it’s that they need Domi to transcend the role of “distributor” and become a true “playmaker” on the ice, able to create offense even without having a hot scorer accompanying him on the ice.
In Coyotes’ victories this year, Domi scored 23 points in 22 games, with a +8 plus/minus. In losses: 9 points (all assists) in 28 games, with a -17. Also notable, Domi sat for just 4 penalty minutes in those 23 wins, but racked up 23 penalty minutes in the 28 defeats.
Bottom line: Domi’s production needs to depend less on who he is playing with, and more on his own ability to score and create goals. The fights are fun and entertaining, but ultimately hinder his ability to contribute.
The 22-year-old winger could be the principal lynchpin to the Coyotes’ future success, requiring him to look more like the 2015-16 version than the one we witnessed this year.
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What grade would you give Max Domi?
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