Rabid Habs

Galchenyuk With Habs For Two More Years

Alex Galchenyuk Photo - Julien Laperriere

After a long and intense wait, Alex Galchenyuk has signed a two year, $5.6M deal with the Montreal Canadiens.

The 21 year old has been with the Canadiens since the 2012-13 season, when he was drafted third overall in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. In his first 48 games with the Habs, he managed to round up 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists), and recorded 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in the 2014-15 season.

Many speculated the return of Galchenyuk, as he fired his long-time agents Igor Larionov and Ian Pulver on June 22nd, but that wasn’t the only reason to question a possible return. Galchenyuk hired Pat Brisson of the Creative Artists Agency on June 23rd, which gave many fans a sigh of relief that talks between him and GM Marc Bergevin could continue talking about a new contract. However, Larionov and Pulver came out with a statement expressing not only their disappointment in Galchenyuk, but also that he wasn’t happy with his ice time and the fact that coach Michel Therrien would bench him in some situations. Larionov went on to say, “I tried to make him understand that he has to be patient. I had to wait when I was a young player; every great player has a time when he’s going to be on the bench, but you have to learn that’s part of the game.”

It was also announced on July 3rd by Jonathan Bernier in an article for Le Journal De Montréal that Galchenyuk’s dad was the main reason behind the split with Larionov, as he seems to have a strong influence on his son’s career and that Galchenyuk was seen as the breadwinner in the family. However, Bernier’s sources appear to be false as Anna, Alex’s sister, spoke out on Twitter to TSN 690 Montreal’s Tony Marinaro and explained her feelings towards the article:

Another dramatic turn of events was when it was announced July 22nd by Brisson that talks between them and Bergevin had come to a stand still. However, despite the dramatics that during those weeks, it’s safe to say that having Galchenyuk locked in for two more years is a great move on Bergevin’s part. Not only does Galchenyuk come through when he’s most needed, he’s great with possession (the more important the situation, the better his possession gets) and is a smart hockey player overall. He did have some ups and downs in his first three NHL seasons, but he did manage to hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career in the 2014-15 regular season. He’s hard working on the ice and he’s definitely a player the Habs shouldn’t consider letting go any time soon. There is, however still one question that remains.

Does Alex Galchenyuk belong as a centre or a wing?

Galchenyuk played for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL as a centre. Sting coach, Jacques Beaulieu, moved him to the wing in order to keep the solid line of Charles Sarault and Reid Boucher. The boys had a formidable line and with Boucher already at centre, Galchenyuk played wing. Grabbing 61 points in 33 games, Galchenyuk saw great success on the wing which makes sense to why the Habs started him on the wing when the lockout ended. With a 48-game season, without missing a shift, and grabbing 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists), it seemed natural (and still seems that way) to keep Galchenyuk where he was playing before. However, when you search his stats on the Montreal Canadiens website, he is listed as a centre. Are the Habs missing something?

Therrien has only used Galchenyuk as a centre for only a handful of games during the 2014-15 season, being temporarily alongside Max Pacioretty where a nice offensive production emerged, but the offense dried up quickly and he was put back on the wing, which makes some wonder if he is being underused and should be given the chance to grow as a centre. While Bergevin made it clear on May 15th that, “At the end of the day, [Galchenyuk] may never be a centre. Right now it doesn’t look like he ever will be. He might be, he could be, but I don’t want to just focus on him. … Playing centre in the NHL is not that easy, when he was [playing junior] in Sarnia, they put him on the wing. So maybe they saw something that we saw,” a six foot one centre over David Desharnais, a five foot seven centre makes a lot more sense. All in all, in order to succeed, there needs to be a shuffle in order to find what lines work better than others and while Desharnais had a 52.9% in the face-off circle and posted some great numbers during the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, he just doesn’t cut it as a top centre guy (or in most fans opinions, doesn’t cut it as a member of the Habs at all).

All in all, Alex Galchenyuk is the real deal and whether he stays on the wing this season or is given the chance to really prove he’s a solid centre, he will definitely be one of the key roles in the Habs success during the 2015-16 regular season.

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @EarlxGreat