Having notched a career-high 30 goals in 2015-16, Alex Galchenyuk was met with inflated expectations ahead of a new season. Montreal's 2012 third overall draft pick responded with 23 points in the first 25 games, having made a strong case to stick as a top-line NHL center. He did have woeful faceoff numbers (42.7 winning percent) and a sketchy two-way game, but inspired play within the attacking zone made up for it. Unfortunately, a December knee injury shelved him for six weeks and lingered upon his return. Galchenyuk was eventually replaced on the top line by Phillip Danault, and he started getting bottom-six minutes following the coaching change to Claude Julien. The 23-year-old has been yanked between wing and center, which has slowed his development and consequently frustrated the organization. He may begin the season on the wing, where he can focus on scoring goals, but it's unlikely that the experiment at center is over. The hope is that a full training camp with Julien should land Galchenyuk in a comfortable spot, preferably as a top-six forward.
Galchenyuk is no longer seen as a centerman by the Canadiens organization and will skate on the wing for the foreseeable future, John Lu of TSN reports. A 30-goal scorer in 2015-16, Galchenyuk's production dropped to 17 goals last season and he was lambasted for his work at center ice. The 2012 third overall pick has boatloads of offensive ability, but he only won 42.7 percent of draws last season and too often neglects the defensive responsibilities that come along with playing center. Some players struggle with adjusting to the wing after playing center, while others thrive offensively with reduced defensive duties. Where Galchenyuk lands on this spectrum remains to be determined, but his talent alone may justify reaching for him in upcoming fantasy drafts.
Galchenyuk signed a three-year, $14.7 million contract extension with the Canadiens on Wednesday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports. While the Habs reportedly won't be able to retain veteran defenseman Andrei Markov and have already lost top-six talent Alexander Radulov to the Stars, re-signing Galchenyuk at least preserves one of the team's premier power-play weapons. Last season, Chucky notched 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games, despite averaging a mere 15:56 of ice time. The 23-year-old told reporters last month that he wanted to stay in Montreal, so it's a wish come true for the talented playmaker.
Galchenyuk, who's a pending restricted free agent, expressed his desire to remain with the Canadiens. "I love this team, I love this city, I love the fans - I love everything about Montreal," he said. "It's an exciting place to play." The Wisconsin-born center was limited to 61 games this season, as he dealt with two different injuries to his right knee. His scoring dipped by 13 goals compared to a full campaign in 2015-16, but Galchenyuk managed a career-high 27 assists. Few NHLers can match the youngster's efficiency; he's accumulated 204 points (89 goals, 115 helpers) despite averaging less than 16:30 over his first five years in the league. Assuming Galchenyuk re-ups with the Habs, he'll be a mainstay on the man advantage.
Galchenyuk notched a first-period assist and registered three shots on net during Monday's win over Florida. Averaging just 13:37 of ice time through his past five games, Galchenyuk's role has been a serious impediment to his fantasy upside. He's still posted an impressive 16 goals and 43 points through 58 games, but an uptick in minutes would almost certainly be accompanied by better offensive numbers. The talented youngster's keeper/dynasty owners will want to remain patient and hope he receives a more featured role in 2017-18.
Galchenyuk skated 17:02 and scored the Habs' lone goal in Thursday's 4-1 home loss to Carolina. For all that he was technically on the third line with Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw, Galchenyuk saw the third-most ice time among Montreal forwards -- just 17 seconds fewer than minutes leader Max Pacioretty. Galchenyuk meshed well with his new mates, as the three of them combined on his goal and generally looked good throughout the game. Now that it's been demonstrated that he's not the one bringing the Habs' top line down, Galchenyuk may return to that assignment, but he's clearly going to get his minutes either way.
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