Montreal Canadiens Protect or Expose: Alex Galchenyuk

Alex Galchenyuk

With the NHL expansion draft being held on June 21st during the NHL awards. The Montreal Canadiens will need to decide who they should protect and who they should expose for the Vegas Golden Knights to choose from. Both Carey Price and Jeff Petry are protected automatically with their NMC. Previously, we wrote articles on Shea WeberMax Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher that stated that there is no argument against protecting them. The next player up on the list is Alex Galchenyuk.

Protect or Expose: Alex Galchenyuk

Position: Centre/ Left Wing
Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6’1″ 210 Pounds
Contract: RFA (2017)

Why Expose him:

One of the biggest questions after the Montreal Canadiens first round exit from the playoffs was where Alex Galchenyuk will play next season. There is a lot debate as to where Galchenyuk will play next season. On many occasions throughout his five-year career, Galchenyuk has been shifted to the wing as opposed to his natural centre position.

One of the main reasons for this could be because of his lack of IQ in the defensive zone. Typically NHL centres are expected to have a strong two-way game. Galchenyuk’s defensive game makes it hard to take him seriously as a reliable centre. This is why head coach Claude Julien shifted him back to the wing after having played the majority of the past two seasons at centre.  On the wing, Galchenyuk’s point production fell tremendously having only scored two and four points in the last ten games of the season. After starting the season strong, where he put up 23 points in 25 games. Galchenyuk scored only 21 points in his following 36 games after coming back from a knee injury. Galchenyuk has a history of knee injuries which included one that forced him to miss most of his his draft year.

After five years, the former third overall pick in 2012 was expected to have a breakout season, that has yet to come.  However, at 23 years old there is still time to breakout but it seems that management is getting annoyed. At the end of the season when asked about Galchenyuk’s future with the Canadiens, general manager Marc Bergevin was uncertain. Having a player that you are uncertain about is a reason to leave Galchenyuk exposed.

Why Protect Him

On a team that struggles to find offense,  Alex Galchenyuk is one of few bright spots. He may have not broken out into the 65-70 point centre the Habs have expected. However, throughout his five-year career, he has shown flashes of the player he could be.  Which included the last 20 games of the 2015-16 season and the first 25 of this past season. Things could have been different had Galchenyuk never injured his knee. The rest of the season, seemed to be the result of a knee that wasn’t 100%. Needless to say, Galchenyuk can turn around this rough end to the season by resting his knee and working hard in the summer.

Galchenyuk is a very hard worker, when the Habs had their bye-week in February, he went to Florida to work on his face-offs.  Following this, he came back stronger in the face-off dot. Galchenyuk’s overall game has improved with the work that he has put in each summer. If Galchenyuk could stay healthy then he might be able to have that breakout season.

However, it may seem like he’s lazy at times, but Galchenyuk is one of those pure offensive players.

This is why there are questions about him but his potential at only 23 years old is too high to let go of for nothing. If the Canadiens decide they want to get rid of him, they should still protect him in order to get a value in a trade him.

Verdict:  Protect

While, he may seem like a true no-brainer to protect, unlike the players we wrote about, there is actual doubt in Galchenyuk’s future as a hab. Nonetheless, it would be better to protect him order to get a good return for a veteran with so much promise.

The biggest factor in deciding Galchenyuk’s future will likely come down to whether or not he’s a centre. After being eliminated by the New York Rangers, it is evident that the Canadiens need to improve at centre. It would be a smart move to allow Galchenyuk to develop as a centre. This summer will be interesting for him as he needs a new contract.

Our next installment will look at Tomas Plekanec.

Protected List 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie:

G: Carey Price (NMC)

D1: Jeff Petry (NMC)

D2: Shea Weber

D3:

F1: Max Pacioretty

F2: Brendan Gallagher

F3: Alex Galchenyuk

F4:

F5:

F6:

F7:

Expose: coming soon

MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 29:  Alex Galchenyuk #27 of the Montreal Canadiens skates the puck during the warmup prior to the NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre on March 29, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)