Marc Bergevin says it takes a certain type of player to excel in the spotlight.
The general manager of the Montreal Canadiens appears to have found one in Max Domi.
“It’s easy to play in a non-hockey market,” Bergevin said. “It’s a little more difficult in a market like Montreal or Toronto or Vancouver — a Canadian market. You’re more exposed.
“Max thrives on that. It shows in his play.”
Acquired from the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk in June’s trade of young forwards badly in need of a fresh start, Domi entered Wednesday’s action tied for eighth in NHL scoring with 22 points in 18 games, while his 10 goals were good for a share of 11th.
Moved to centre after mostly playing as a winger in Arizona, Domi had three assists in his first four games with Montreal. He has since exploded with 19 points in 14 outings since Jonathan Drouin joined his line.
Domi, the 12th pick in the 2013 draft, has five goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak, although his unusually high shooting percentage of 26.3 is bound to regress.
An 18-goal, 52-point player as a rookie, he scored nine times to go along with 29 assists in an injury-hit 2016-17 campaign before again putting up just nine goals — including four empty netters — in a 45-point season last year.
Bergevin pointed to life under the microscope in a hockey hotbed as one of the reasons for the resurgence of the skilled son of former Maple Leafs tough guy Tie Domi.
“He’s a Toronto kid who played great at the world juniors, big stage,” Bergevin said. “He’s doing the same for us.”
And it’s not like the trade hasn’t benefited the Coyotes.
Galchenyuk, the third pick in 2012, missed the majority of October because of injury, but has three goals and five assists in 10 games.
Drafted as a centre by the Canadiens, the 24-year-old spent most of his time in Montreal on the wing, but appears to have found a home down the middle in the desert.
“We traded a good player for Max,” Bergevin said following Tuesday’s meeting with fellow NHL GMs in Toronto. “Hopefully it works out for both teams.”
Bergevin added he’s constantly on the lookout for players like Domi — ones in need of a change of scenery — when talking trades.
“It’s always a nice thing to do, especially if the guy’s with his first team,” he said. “If a guy’s on his fourth, fifth, sixth team it might not make a difference.”
Montreal, which wasn’t expected to do much this season, currently sits a surprising four points out of first in the Atlantic Division and is holding down the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Bergevin, who also dealt captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights in September for a package that included winger Tomas Tatar and forward prospect Nick Suzuki, said increasing team speed has been crucial to the Canadiens’ early success.
“You don’t go in the summer saying, ‘I want to get slower,'” Bergevin said with a chuckle. “Sometimes the players are not available. It’s not only players that are fast, but players that play fast.
“That’s how the league’s going now. We’re playing faster and we’re getting results.”