While it should not come as much of a surprise, seeing as he was viewed as a throw-in rental in the trade that brought him to Minnesota rather than a core, long-term piece of the return, Alex Galchenyuk is not expected to return to the Wild next season. GM Bill Guerin told the media this evening, including the Star Tribune’s Sarah McClellan, that the impending free agent forward is unlikely to return to Minnesota this off-season. Galchenyuk was acquired by the Wild from the Pittsburgh Penguins in February – his third trade in two years – alongside prospect defenseman Calen Addison and a first-round pick in exchange for veteran forward Jason Zucker. Although Galchenyuk, a 26-year-old with two 50+ point seasons on his resume, was far from a useless addition for the Wild, it was Addison and the first-rounder that were the real prizes for the club. Given Galchenyuk’s expiring contract and the downward trajectory of his career, few expected Galchenyuk to stick long-term in Minnesota. Galchenyuk seemingly peaked early in his career, setting career highs in goals and points in 2015-16 and points per game in 2016-17, at the ages of 21 and 22 respectively, with the Montreal Canadiens. In each year since, his final season in Montreal and stops with the Arizona Coyotes and Penguins, his per-game scoring has dropped off, reaching a career-low this year. Although his seven points in 14 games with the Wild was better than his overall rate for the year, it wasn’t enough to convince the club that he was worthy of an extension. Galchenyuk will hit the open market as an intriguing player, one of the younger UFA’s and certainly the most accomplished for his age, but also stuck in a downward spiral for the past few seasons. He needs a fresh start and would benefit from some long-term security, if he can find it. If Galchenyk can return to 50-point form, he could be one of the best bargains available this off-season.
- One young player who won’t be returning to the NHL altogether next season is Hunter Shinkaruk. Another former Canadien, although best remembered as a long-time prospect of the Calgary Flames, Shinkaruk has opted to re-sign with the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star for another year, the league announced. After he was not qualified by Montreal last summer, Shinkaruk did not find another NHL home and eventually signed with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. However, he left the team mid-season to join Kunlun. He recorded nine points in 19 games, which was among the team leaders in per-game production. Playing on a Red Star roster that is loaded with NHL and AHL veterans, Shinkaruk can play a greater role than he would likely find in North America, while continuing to play a familiar style with peers from whom he can learn. While Shinkaruk, 25, can no longer qualify as an NHL prospect, he has a better chance than most to find his way back to the league one day given his age and ability.
- One legitimate NHL prospect who is headed to a new home is forward Matteo Costantini. A 2020 NHL Draft prospect gearing up to hear his name called in a few weeks, Costantini has also revealed where he will be headed in 2021-22 and beyond. Costantini, who is committed to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees for the coming season, will then take his talents to the University of North Dakota, the Vees announced Tuesday. Constantini, who hails from Ontario but has been playing with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres for the past few years, has appeared on a number of draft boards this year. Most notably, Constantini was given a third-round draft grade by TSN’s Craig Button, who has him ranked No. 77 in his final draft board. The goal-scoring center will be a nice addition for North Dakota, a top NCAA program with several current and future NHL prospects on their roster right now and committed for next year.