Alex Galchenyuk has suddenly gone from pariah to absolute necessity. In the wake of losing top scoring threat Alexander Radulov via free agency to the Dallas Stars, Galchenyuk, a restricted free agent, has seen his internal value skyrocket. Radulov, of course, signed with the Stars earlier today for 5 seasons, and the Montreal offense was already severely lacking. Galchenyuk had a respectable 44 points in only 61 games last season, but that was a marginal drop from his 30-goal, 56-point campaign the year prior.
One of the largest issues for Galchenyuk this last season was consistency in his production, and many link that to his constant switching between the center and left wing roles. Galchenyuk is a more natural center, and has stated as such on numerous occasions. His defensive play has left many fans wanting, however. Two separate coaching staffs placed him on the wing at different points, and the organization has stated pretty clearly that he isn’t ready for top-line center duties. The problem for Montreal of course, is that they don’t have anyone else nearly as capable to fill that role. Tomas Plekanec is another year older and Galchenyuk is already arguably the better player. With Radulov (a right-wing) out of the picture, it might be wise to keep Galchenyuk content and comfortable.
According to Darren Dreger, Galchenyuk’s agent Pat Brisson has been in contact with GM Marc Bergevin, who will now turn his attention primarily to this contract. If they can’t come to an agreement, arbitration is always an option that can be utilized. That said, arbitration would probably only serve to fan the flames that have surrounded this player since he was supposedly placed on the block a year ago. Those flames are still not going out until that contract has been signed, and there will always be a market for young, talented centers.
When Jonathan Drouin was acquired for the left side, it seemed as though the writing was on the wall. But now, with Radulov out of the picture, losing Galchenyuk’s top-six offensive abilities would be a massive blow to the team. Montreal finished 13th in Goals For, but only two players hit the 20 goal mark – Max Pacioretty (35) and Paul Byron (22). Losing their top assist man and second-leading point getter in Radulov, it would be entirely devastating to draw the Galchenyuk negotiations out into the season, or worse, to trade him following a down year. Galchenyuk and his agent know they have the leverage in negotiations, and there’s a strong possibility they’ll use every ounce of it to get a better deal for the 23-year-old talent. Considering his production and league wide comparisons, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see him make well above $5 MM.