The first big trade of the offseason hit the NHL Friday when the Montreal Canadiens sent forward Alex Galchenyuk to the Arizona Coyotes for youngster Max Domi in a rare one-for-one deal. For Montreal, the Canadiens finally move on from a forward, who failed in their experiment to move him to the center position and while they didn’t get a center in return for the 24 year old, they have high expectations for the 23-year-old Domi to step in at a cheaper price. For Arizona, this gives the team another established scorer to potentially pair with Derek Stepan and push Arizona out of the cellar in the Pacific Division.
Here’s a rundown from across the league:
- While there is a lot we don’t know, The Athletic’s Arpon Basu (subscription required) writes that Galchenyuk was a valuable asset for Montreal, who put up a 30-goal season while playing center for the team and for reasons that will never entirely be clear, the team decided he couldn’t play that position again. Basu writes that Montreal needed a center desperately, but the team opted not to work with him, or build his confidence or let Galchenyuk know they believed in him. Instead, they did the opposite of that, pointing out his defensive deficiencies, especially publically. The scribe writes the Canadiens didn’t want to give him an opportunity last season to return to the center position, because they feared had he played well, it would make the organization look bad.
- Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette writes that despite failing to succeed in Montreal, the Arizona Coyotes are looking for Galchenyuk to play some center this coming season, potentially even taking the No. 2 center spot behind Derek Stepan. “I think having depth at that position and having players who can play that position is something that we desired in this trade,” said Coyotes general manager John Chayka Friday after the trade. “He’s had success playing the centre position. I don’t think we’d make this trade if we didn’t think he had the ability to play centre.”
- TSN’s Frank Seravalli writes that the trading of Galchenyuk reminds him of a trade last year when the St. Louis Blues traded for Brayden Schenn and turned him into a full-time center. Back then people had said that Schenn couldn’t play the center position either, but St. Louis got a great season out of Schenn and he proved that he could play there. Seravalli writes that Arizona hopes they can get the same spark out of Galchenyuk this season.
- AZ Sports’ Craig Morgan writes that Galchenyuk asked if he could move back to center earlier this season, but it never happened. He was told it wasn’t his job to worry about it and it was his job to produce whether as a winger or at center. Regardless, Galchenyuk wants to play center in Arizona. “You’re more involved in the game and I feel you touch the puck, you have the puck on your stick way more than a winger,” Galchenyuk said. “I feel really comfortable when I have the puck on my stick. I really believe in my offensive abilities when I have the puck.”
- Cowan also reported that while general manager Marc Bergevin has a policy about not talking about contract negotiations, the GM says that he expects winger Max Pacioretty to be back with the team next season. Could an extension be near?
- The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun writes that this trade should have no impact if Montreal attempts to acquire Buffalo center Ryan O’Reilly. The Sabres would have had no interest in Galchenyuk and would want a different mix of assets.
- Basu writes that Bergevin used the word “intangibles” multiple times while discussing Domi and why the Canadiens are a better team today.
- Cowan tweeted that Bergevin said that while Domi can play center, the team acquired him to play the wing position.