Rabid Habs

2016-17 Report Cards: Alex Galchenyuk

Now that the dust has settled on the Habs’ 2016-17 season, it’s about time we look at how each player performed. In my reports, I’ll look at our expectations of each Canadiens player before the season started, how each player performed in their given or apparent role, and what their general fit on the team is going forward.

Next, let’s try to make some sense of the enigmatic season Alex Galchenyuk had.

Statistical Assessment: A-

A significant knee injury derailed what could have been a career year. Here’s what he managed to accomplish in 61 games:

Goals Assists Points Power Play Points SOG
17 27 44 15 104

Lost in Galchenyuk’s injury was his contribution to the team’s powerplay. Sitting in Alex Kovalev’s old spot on his off-wing half-wall, Galchenyuk mustered up 15 points on the man advantage, finishing third on the team in this category.

At all situations, Galchenyuk may have been able to put together a career year. His 0.72 points per game was a career high, and he has improved in this category in four consecutive seasons. After missing four weeks with a knee injury, Galchenyuk struggled to return to the same level of play. With that being considered, Galchenyuk’s struggles were due to an injury, and there is no reason to suggest that he wouldn’t have had a career year had his knee injury not occurred.

Expectational Assessment: C

Going into the season, Galchenyuk was slated to be the team’s number one centre, and he was that for a significant portion of the season. Until his injury against the Los Angeles Kings in early December, he was meeting his expectations; exceeding them, even.

After returning from injury, Galchenyuk played centre, but could not manage to push Philip Danault out of the top role. Galchenyuk was still a centre, but wasn’t a number one centre anymore. He would get brief looks at that role over the rest of the season, but wasn’t what he was expected to be.

I have a hard time giving Galchenyuk a failing mark due to injury. He probably wasn’t 100% over the completion of the season, so a healthy Galchenyuk might be able to reclaim that number one role, if it’s still his to take.

Role Assessment: F

And here we are; the semi-annual “what is Alex Galchenyuk?” discussion.

Over the course of the season, we saw Chucky used in several different ways: first line centre, second line centre, third line centre, second line left wing, second line right wing, third line left wing and fourth line left wing.

I just broke a very important writing rule by giving you a list the size of a manifesto, but it’s important to realize that the Canadiens coaching staff has no idea what Galchenyuk is.

Conventional wisdom says to put Galchenyuk in a role and let him figure it out; make him figure it out. But the Canadiens don’t seem to know what role they want him to be in. At his post-mortem press conference, Marc Bergevin said Galchenyuk’s short-term position is on the wing. And while I disagree, if you think he’s a winger, keep him on the wing. The Canadiens management has failed to do that.

For a microcosm of the Habs’ misuse of Alex Galchenyuk, look no further than game six against the New York Rangers. Used as a winger on the fourth and third lines throughout the series, Galchenyuk was called upon to centre the Habs comeback line with the season on the line. Doing this is unfair to Galchenyuk and to the team. There seems to be no plan.

If he’s a centre, use him that way. If he’s a winger, use him that way. But they have to figure it out. Fast.

General Fit on the Team Moving Forward: B+

So long as the Canadiens are desperate for top-six offense, Galchenyuk will have a spot on this team. Whether he plays as a centre or a wing, Galchenyuk’s offensive contribution is crucial. Sparkling on the man advantage, his one-time from the right side of the rink can take some pressure off of Shea Weber, and could make their powerplay more dynamic.

But Galchenyuk will only have a place on this team as long as the Canadiens management want him in a Habs’ sweater. This seems obvious, but for the first time in his career, the former third overall pick is the subject of serious trade rumors. As the Canadiens need for a first line centre grows, Galchenyuk’s future with the team becomes more uncertain.

Overall Grade: B-

His season wasn’t the breakout season we all expected, but it might have been had he stayed healthy. While he doesn’t have a defined role on the team and seems to have lost his confidence, the Canadiens need him to be the player they drafted. What Galchenyuk needs to achieve this is stability in the team’s top-six, which is well out of his control.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan and follow @rabidhabs for more updates.