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Monday, July 23, 2012

Montreal Canadiens Offseason Player Profile: Raphael Diaz

Swiss Defender Signs Two Year Extension

Raphael Diaz - D
5'11" 194 lbs
2011-12 Stats 59GP- 3G- 13A- 16Pts- -7

The Cost

Marc Bergevin managed to avoid going to arbitration with Diaz by inking the young Swiss defender to a two year deal worth $1.2 million per year.

While the terms seemed higher than most — including myself — had expected, it shouldn't be viewed as a bad move.

His offensive output was not horrible for a rookie defenseman and he did average 18 minutes of ice time per game as well as earn an invite to the rookie All Star team.

Performance

Diaz was limited to 59 games in his rookie campaign due to occasional scratches as well as 16 games missed with a lower body injury.

Diaz spent an average of 1:20 minutes per game killing penalties and his 102 blocked shots were good enough for third on the team behind Josh Gorges's 250 and P.K. Subban's 113.

While Gorges's 250 were clearly untouchable, it's fair to say that Diaz would've passed Subban had he not missed so many games. Diaz played 22 games less than Subban.

The Fit

With Diaz locked down, the Canadiens have eight signed defensemen heading into next season. While it's clear that Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, P.K. Subban, Alexei Emelin and Tomas Kaberle will make up five of the top six — unless someone get's moved *cough* Kaberle *cough* — the sixth spot could be up for grabs.

Despite my feeling that Francis Bouillon will begin the season filling that sixth spot, I also beleive that Raphael Diaz will have plenty of oppurtunities to grab it.

With the constant possibility of injuries in the back end, Diaz will no doubt have a chance at winning over the coach's, earning him more minutes.

As for the remaining two signed defenders, I see Frederic St-Denis starting in Hamilton and Yannick Weber very likely being moved.

Would you agree that Diaz will start as the seventh defenseman? Or do you see him having a chance to prove himself right away?


Check out other player profiles:

Ryan White
Travis Moen
Brandon Prust
Colby Armstrong
Carey Price
Lars Eller
Francis Bouillon
Tomas Plekanec


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Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com You can follow Sean on Twitter.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

8 comments:

Does anyone know if Diaz has to clear waivers?
It would not be a bad thing to have an NHL ready d-man in Hamilton as a number 8 on the depth chart.
Even if it means paying him NHL money, it won't count against the cap.

@HH

Diaz is on a one-way deal, meaning he would be subject to waivers.

@Sean

Good stuff, as always.

Interest numbers about blocked shots and time on ice. While you mention him being in contention for a bottom-two spot on the blueline, his 18 minutes per game are far more becoming of a top-four defender, no?

I see Diaz and Bouillon sharing the 6th spot - one is more of an offensive player, the other defensive - depending on the opponent and other game by game needs of the team.

Also keeping Weber would be good assuming he fill the role of power-play specialist and forward/defense swing-man. However I am not sure if there will be a roster spot left for him!

Have to admit that I am a fan of Diaz but hate the raft we have 4 dmen pretty much with the same style of play. If MB is going to go into the season with Weber, Diaz, Kaberle and Markov then it is going to be another long season.

We need guys who can play on the defensive side of the puck with enough size and strength to contain an opposing forward 1 on 1.

With that said Diaz is a perfect #6 dman. He's got experience and can play on the PP on the second unit.

@Bryan

Mmmmmm... I feel like I wrote something awfully similar a week ago ;)

It's tough to say... But would have to agree with
Steve B. Bouillon is getting on in age and Diaz proved he can handle some mins. There's also the discipline side, if special teams find themselves with a substantial workload Diaz will be able to offer some needed relief.... Then of course theres the wild card Markov... Whens the last time we saw him play 20 straight? Can we really expect him to pull off 82 @ 20 plus mins? so all that said im guessing hell be a 7th with top 4 time... if that makes any sense!!

@Louis Thanks! While those are top four minutes, I don't see him cracking the top four just yet. Markov, Subban and Gorges are clearly the top three and Emelin is more effective defensively and in my opinion has more of a guaranteed future with the organization.

Also you can't help but figure that Markov's absence is a big reason as to why Diaz got so many minutes.

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