With a loss for the Canadiens last night, the David Desharnais detractors timidly came out of hiding and reiterated the same issues he brings to the lineup: hogging the best scoring wingers, hogging all the offensive zone starts, the powerplay time, being unsuitable for use in defensive situations, ...
I've thought of the same issues for a while. I think of David Desharnais as a small, scrappy scrum half who's not fast or able to advance the ball, but is superb in how he plays with his forwards and distributes the ball. Or a pure cover corner who doesn't play the run very well or tackle much, but can blanket the opposition #1 receiver and effectively take him out of the game, neutralize that threat.
Hockey players need to be generalists to a greater degree than my two examples above, but you can have room on your team for a specialist if what he does is head and shoulders above everybody else. Offhand I can think of Adam Oates and Craig Janney, who could pass the puck and set up their teammates like nobody's business, but were pretty one-dimensional.
With Thomas Vanek on his line, it's not enough for David to produce at a 60-65 points a year pace, he has to be at least a point-a-game player, at least, to offset the cascade of roster choices he creates by being on it (Tomas Plekanec as the checker, Lars Eller on the third line, Alex Galchenyuk being eased in on the wing, Max grafted onto his hip,...)
So while as a fan I appreciate how he plays, and enjoy watching him more than any other centreman on the team, and I make allowances for the stupidity of how the NHL is run and how much more he could produce if the refereeing was managed toward rather against his style of play, David needs to kick it into an even higher gear the rest of the season. With these two wingers, games like yesterday won't be acceptable. He needs to get results. His line has to give our team the lead and constantly keep the other on their heels, their head spinning. Anything less, and David's contribution to the team is almost a net negative.