Rabid Habs

A Case For Keeping Galchenyuk On The Wing

Habs Alex Galchenyuk Photo - rds.ca

The constant debate about Alex Galchenyuk vs David Desharnais has been happening for awhile now. The sentiments “Galchenyuk needs to be in the middle,” and “Trade Desharnais, he’s stifling Chucky’s development” are constantly tweeted and shared on social media.

I honestly don’t see it that way. Desharnais and Galchenyuk are two very different players with different frames and skill sets.

David Desharnais
5’7” 176lbs
82gp, 14 Goals, 35 Assists, +22
1189 FOT, 629 W, 560 L, 52.9%
Note: 30th among active centres with more than 1,000 facoffs taken

Alex Galchenyuk
6’1” 200lbs
80GP, 20 Goals, 26 Assists, +8
174 FOT, 82 Wins, 92 Losses, 47.1%

Pretty similar stat lines, except Desharnais took 7x more face-offs.  Desharnais also has a 52.9% win rate. While that 5% doesn’t seem like a lot, those 100 extra face off losses could sometimes mean the difference between a goal against, or a breakout into the opponents’ zone.

A guy like Desharnais is very good at getting low on the face off, something a 6’1″ Galchenyuk would have difficulty with. That 2-4 seconds it provides Desharnais’ line mates when he ties up the opposing centre can do a lot to create a scoring opportunity.

Galchenyuk works and moves better when he is given time to set up, much like Max Pacioretty. Keeping Galchenyuk as a winger gives him more time to get creative.

While it has been refuted and denied, the fan base seems to think that Michel Therrien and Marc Bergevin aren’t giving him a chance at centre. I, for one, think they are trying to protect him and use his skills to the rest of his linemates’ advantage.

He is a terrific set up man and one of the most creative play makers to come to the Habs in a long time. He won’t get bullied in the corners and has more freedom to make plays. He’s still young, remember.

There is also a lot more pressure playing centre in front of the home crowd as a young player than there is playing the wing. With more responsibility it seems like Galchenyuk gets stumped and tries to create these intricate plays that aren’t gonna fly when you have a 6’5″ 250lb defenceman charging at you like a freight train. It’s a lot different than the juniors.

The Habs are deep at centre as it is with Plekanec, Eller, Desharnais, Mitchell, De La Rose and Flynn – as well as Gabriel Dumont, Jeremy Gregoire and Joonas Nattinen in the prospect pool – all capable of playing down the middle.

De La Rose and Flynn can – and will – move to the wing. That still leaves four NHL ready centres who have played the position for most of their career. There isn’t much need to rush. Keep in mind that if we trade Desharnais you also lose his 49 points from an already offensively weak forward corps.

I know you’re all still thinking: “Let’s just trade Desharnais, Galchenyuk is much better.” We drafted him 3rd overall for a reason. None of us here are GMs or NHL coaches. Let us sit back and watch what Bergevin and company have planned. They aren’t purposely sabotaging his career. He has, however, come a long way since that timid, almost robot like, rookie we saw three years ago. He’s been on the wing for 80% of his young career, keeping him there a little longer won’t stunt his growth.

I know a lot of people will argue with me and say I’m wrong. Jump to the comments, I love hearing what the fan base has to say, or throw me a follow on Twitter: @ShogunxHD.

Thanks for reading.

2 Comments

  1. bobntg (@bobntg)

    July 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Agreed! In my armchair opinion I do think we should be trying to give Eller a chance to play in top 6 and try and focus DD into a more positional role and let him drive a strong forechecking 3rd line that can control the puck, get in front of the net and feed our D for good screened point shots.

    Just give Eller and Chucky more of a chance in the top 6 in various spots during the pre-season and see what happens. I think either of them could play wing or C depending on how the lines fit together. Tough to tell until we get him signed and see what kind of cap room Bergevin has to work with to take a chance on some potential scoring from free agency!

    My longshot hope is that Kassian fits in great with Pax and Plecks and we can reunite Eller, Galchenyuk and Gallagher and then have the chance to interchange Eller and Galchenyuk depending on situation or who’s playing strongest in practice.

    Even better would be Galchenyuk coming out swinging and plays so well they have no choice but to put him with Pax on 1 and let everything else fall into place behind that.

    Great article, been itching to get Chucky signed so we can get a better picture of what Bergevin is going to have room to try and pull off before the season.

  2. William

    July 22, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I dont think Bergy will reach out for a free agent. I think hes going to see what our prospects are capable of and go from there.