So much for all of the perceived drama surrounding the Montreal Canadiens adding right wings Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson on long-term contracts while homegrown star winger Brendan Gallagher was entering the final year of his contract. Montreal’s recent moves apparently have nothing to do with their allegiance to Gallagher and reports that “talks had stalled” were clearly overblown. The team has announced that the two sides have agreed to a six-year, $39MM extension that will begin with the 2021-22 season. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun adds that the contract contains a full No-Movement Clause.
Gallagher, 28, was believed to be heading for free agency next summer for the first time in his career after it appeared that he and the Canadiens were not close on a new contract. Instead, the fan favorite will remain with Montreal through the 2026-27 season at an AAV of $6.5MM. The deal represents a sizeable increase over his current $3.75MM AAV, but it has been well earned. Gallagher played all 82 games and topped 50 points in back-to-back seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He missed some time this past season, but still managed to record 43 points in 59 games, a 59-point pace over an 82-game season which would have been a career best. Given the offensive improvements that Montreal has made, not only off-season additions but in bringing up talented prospects as well, Gallagher could have 60+ point upside over much of the term of this new contract. That would result in this contract looking like a very fair value.
One concern that Montreal will have with Gallagher’s new deal is durability. Gallagher’s injury absence last season was due to a concussion and post-concussion symptoms, which is worrisome in its own right, but moving forward his 5’9″, 184-lb. frame may not hold up as well as he gets older. Gallagher plays an aggressive game and does not let his size hold him back, but he could be more of an injury risk down the line. With this extension already compensating him at his ceiling, the team hopes that they will get Gallagher at full strength as much as possible. Fortunately, he set a career high in ice time per game last season and shows no signs of slowing down in the immediate future.
The other note on Gallagher’s future in Montreal is of course the impending 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. While this new contract carries a full No-Movement Clause, the extension will not kick in until after expansion. As a result, Gallagher can still be exposed for Seattle to select next summer. The odds are slim that this will occur, but with so much money and term locked up at right wing, the Canadiens could get out from under Gallagher’s contract before it begins in the case of a poor performance this coming season.