Alex Galchenyuk, the Canadiens prized 3rd overall selection at the 2012 Entry Draft, the big centre the Habs have been searching for decades, the cornerstone of the Marc Bergevin era in Montreal and the piece that Bergevin would build his team around. Oh how things have changed 5 years later. Galchenyuk is coming off an inconsistent year that had him starting the season as the first line center to finishing the playoffs as a fourth line winger. As a pending restricted free agent and 2 years away from being eligible for UFA, there are decisions to be made for the young forward this summer. If Bergevin and Julien truly believe in him, it seems appropriate to try and lock him up at a reasonable cap hit for the long run and avoid the bridge contract disaster similar to PK Subban’s contract negotiations. But if there remains question marks, which there seems to be, as Bergevin and Julien have already stated in their post-season press conference that Galchenyuk’s defensive game still needs work and that he would start next season as a winger. It seems the time is now to trade him and receive a somewhat fair value in return.
Now I know that most people have the belief and thought in “what have you done for me lately”, but lets not forget that Galchenyuk started the season on fire, within the top 10 in NHL scoring and leading the Canadiens in points prior to colliding knee on knee with Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles. He just never got back into rhythm after returning from his knee injury and with the coaching and system change from Michel Therrien to Claude Julien, it might’ve been too much for the 23 year old.
With the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency period fast approaching, these are times when General Managers and teams look for significant changes to their rosters. Not to mention, with the Vegas Golden Knights’ Expansion Draft scheduled for June 21, things might get interesting a lot earlier this year. It’s a foregone conclusion that Galchenyuk will be protected for the Expansion Draft, as there is just no way Bergevin is crazy enough to leave him unprotected. But whether it’s deja vu to last year’s PK Subban trade talks or not, there have been the same amount of trade talks surrounding Galchenyuk this time around.
Rumours circulated late Tuesday from various media outlets that the Canadiens have a offer on the table that involved Galchenyuk and their first round this year (25th overall) for a undisclosed player. It’s not surprising that the source decided to leave out this “undisclosed player” but rumours have varied from it being the Lightning’s Jonathan Drouin, New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan, or veterans Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter. Personally, the only player from the four I would agree to would be Drouin, as I am a huge fan of his game and believe he has the skill set to become an elite talent in the league. If Bergevin again decides to trade for the older player on the decline, similar to the Subban-Weber trade, I can’t imagine what will happen this time around in Montreal.
Galchenyuk hasn’t shown in his 5 NHL season to be a reliable 200-feet centreman, the likes that is required to win the Stanley Cup, ala Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, and Patrice Bergeron. I am a believer in Galchenyuk and believe he is the most pure offensive talent on the Habs’ roster, but there just no denying that the Canadiens’ lack depth down the middle. Yup, it’s the NHL’s silly season, and this is just the beginning of what is expected to be a rumour filled summer of trade scenarios, but just like last year, there just seems to be too much rumblings around Galchenyuk to not take it seriously. Gear up and fasten your seat belts Habs fan, we are in for a ride.