Just like that, Alex Galchenyuk is on the move again. After being dealt from the Ottawa Senators to Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Galchenyuk has been traded for the second time in about 54 hours. Although, he reportedly never even got the chance to leave Ottawa for Carolina, so he now has a much shorter trip ahead of him. The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that they have acquired Galchenyuk from the Hurricanes in exchange for forward prospect Egor Korshkov and veteran defenseman David Warsofsky. Galchenyuk cleared waivers earlier today and is eligible to be assigned by Toronto to the taxi squad or AHL.
Galchenyuk’s propensity for being traded is becoming comical at this point. The 27-year-old forward, who once looked like he could be a long-term franchise cornerstone for the Montreal Canadiens, has instead become the NHL’s most frequent flyers over the past few years. From Montreal, he was traded to the Arizona Coyotes during the 2018 off-season. Exactly a year and two weeks later, his time in the desert was over as he was traded once again to the Pittsburgh Penguins. His time with Pittsburgh didn’t even last a full season, as he was moved before the trade deadline last year to the Minnesota Wild. When his contract expired this off-season, he signed a one-year deal with the rebuilding Ottawa Senators, almost ensuring that he would be traded yet again at some point this season. However, even he could not have seen this coming. Galchenyuk made it just one month to the day since the start of the 2020-21 season before he was traded on Saturday to the Hurricanes along with another free agent addition, Cedric Paquette, in exchange for Ryan Dzingel. Just two days later, he is now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When Galchenyuk was placed on waivers on Monday, it immediately raised suspicion that he might be moved again this season. Not only were the Hurricanes willing to let him be claimed for free on the waiver wire, but if he did in fact clear he would have even more value to another interested team having gained the flexibility to move to the taxi squad. In Galchenyuk, a dangerous offensive Maple Leafs team adds another intriguing weapon. Galchenyuk is not a consistent, high-effort contributor nor can he be relied upon for any defensive responsibility, but he does possess scoring focus and natural offensive ability and especially when surrounded by superior talent can produce at a high level. In Toronto, there is plenty of superior talent to go around and Galchenyuk appears to be an ideal fit as a top-nine depth option. Even more importantly, Galchenyuk is affordable for the cap-strapped Leafs. His entire $1.05MM cap hit can be buried if he is assigned to the taxi squad or AHL and is not a major burden should he stick with the NHL roster, though it will still require some cap acrobatics by the Leafs front office. Moreover, Galchenyuk is also a quarantine-free acquisition for Toronto. While Paquette took off for Carolina right away following the trade, Galchenyuk stayed behind in Ottawa in case he was claimed on waivers by another Canadian team. He wasn’t, but just a few hours later he ends up with a Canadian team anyway and by all accounts had not yet left the country. He should be able to join the Maple Leafs immediately.
In exchange for providing the Maple Leafs with a player who checks a number of boxes, if he plays that is, the Carolina Hurricanes land a package that includes an AHL depth player and a question mark prospect. Warsofsky, though a respected veteran and leader in the AHL, has not played in the NHL since 2017-18 and has just 55 NHL games on his resume. Barring a mass amount of injuries to the Carolina blue line, one of the deepest units in the league, Warsofsky is nothing more than an experienced addition to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves (where his brother is head coach) to help provide some guidance to the Hurricanes’ minor league prospects. Thus, the true value for the ’Canes in this deal lies with Korshkov. The 24-year-old winger was a second-round pick in 2016 and has size, skill, and a track record of goal-scoring success in the KHL and just last season in the AHL. In fact, the past two years have been the best of Korshkov’s career. He recorded 16 goals and 25 points in 44 games with the AHL Marlies last year, adding a goal in his first and only NHL game with the Maple Leafs as well, and is currently having a career year on loan in the KHL with 16 goals and 31 points in 53 games with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. However, therein lies the problem as well. It took Korshkov nearly three years to make it to North America after being drafted into the NHL, even as an overage selection, and after just one season he returned to Russia and opted to remain there rather than return once the NHL and AHL returned to play. The key to this deal for the Hurricanes is being able to convince the power forward to commit to playing in North America and to adopting an NHL style of play. If they succeed with Korshkov, his long-term potential greatly outweighs the value that Galchenyuk might have provided as an injury substitute for the remainder of the season.