Rabid Habs

The Forum: Can Brendan Gallagher Bounce Back?

Brendan Gallagher’s 2016-2017 season was less than ideal. In 64 games for your Montreal Canadiens, Gallagher scored just 10 goals and added 19 assists for the worst season of his career, even worse than the season prior, in which he played just 53 games but still tallied 19 goals and 21 assists. At 25-years-old, we asked our contributors if they think Brendan Gallagher will be able to bounce back this season?

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – Does he have a choice? Smart-assery aside, I do think he can bounce back, but I’m not sure he can bounce allllll the way back and beyond. One of the things we love about him is his aggressive, in-your-face robust style of play. It’s also the thing that is widely believed to curb his productivity as time marches on. Has time already marched on? He’s had a couple of bad hand injuries that might affect his touch around the net, but surely his lack of size hasn’t yet put him in a spot where he can’t remain a force on the ice. I think he can still hit 20-23 goals, but we might want to park expectations for 25 or more.

Ian Boisvert (@Boisvertian) – This is a tough one. Considering the injuries he’s sustained, it would be hard to imagine Gallagher putting up first-line point totals. As it turns out, you need your hands to play hockey. Double hand surgeries would probably doom any sniper in this league.

But Gallagher isn’t a sniper. In fact, shooting is hardly part of his game. When was the last time you saw Gallagher lean into a one timer? Or even take a slap shot? And, to be fair, he’s never really been an elite playmaker. We know what Gallagher is; an ultra talented goalie screen and o-zone catalyst.

And there’s no reason to believe Gallagher won’t go back to his post at the top of the blue paint. He broke his hand the first time, went back to his office in front of the net and broke it again. He’s not afraid of the prospect of pain, and there’s nothing he won’t do to help this team win.

If he stays healthy and doesn’t have any outstanding lingering hand problems, a 20-goal season isn’t out of the question. And with the Habs lack of depth on the right side, they need him to return to form.

Zach Vanasse (@ZachDropsTweets) – Prior to last season, the player Brendan Gallagher was most often compared to was that shit rat they’ve got down in Beantown; Brad Marchand. I think it’s a comparison that everyone can agree made sense, so let’s take a look at their earliest comparable seasons in the NHL:

Shit Rat

Age 22: 21 g; 20 a (77 games)
Age 23: 28 g, 27 a (76 games)
Age 24: 18 g; 18 a (45 games in lock-out shortened season)

Brendan Gallagher

Age 21: 19 g, 22 a (81 games)
Age 22: 24 g, 23 a (82 games)
Age 23: 19 g, 21 a (53 games in broken-hand shortened season)

We all know the rest of the story: Marchand took-off and scored 37 goals and then 39 goals in his next two seasons, while last season Shea Weber busted-up Gallagher’s hand (something PK Subban never did, btw), limiting him to less than 65-games for the second consecutive campaign, his offensive production taking a serious hit in the process.

Now I’m not saying I expect that Gallagher is destined to return to form and more, becoming a 30-plus goal scorer a la Marchand, but I’m also not counting out Gallagher as the perennial 25 to 30-goal scorer just yet.

At an alleged 5-foot-9 he’s an against all-odds-kind of player and a natural born battler. If he has another injury-plagued season in 2017-2018 then perhaps we have to consider we’ve seen the best of Gallagher, but until that happens I’m still a Brendan Believer.

If that piece-o-trash in Boston can do it, then I got faith in our boy.

Antonie Mathieu (@HabsoluteTruth) – Although I do have my concerns on his ability to bounce back due to both of his hands suffering fractures, I have no doubt that Gallagher will have a better season than last year for a few reasons.

1) Last year, he was extremely unlucky as far as his shooting percentage goes. Instead of his career average of 9.2%, he was shooting at 5.3%, which is a pretty substantial difference.

2) With Radulov’s departure and the uncertainty of where Drouin will play (centre or wing), Gallagher is our top RW on the depth chart at the moment. This will give him ample ice time and should give him a boost in production. Gallagher saw his lowest TOI since his rookie season last year (15:06), so that figure should go back to the 16:30 mark that he was averaging prior to the addition of Radulov.

3) It’s Brendan Gallagher! This guy is by far the hardest worker on the team and he thrives on people doubting him, as long as he can avoid getting injured, I’m not worried that he can get his career back on track and show more glimpses of how good of a player he can be like he demonstrated during the 2015-16 season.