Free Agent to Watch: Alex Galchenyuk


The Anaheim Ducks really need to add a sniper on the left wing for Ryan Getzlaf to work with – is there any chance the Canadiens look to dish him?

If you’re lucky enough to be able to write about the NHL, you have to love free agency.  Essentially, it’s like going window shopping in your favorite mall or plaza, in that you get to look at all of your options and fantasize about the stuff you REALLY want, before settling for what you can afford.

Yesterday, I took a look at the New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan, who has elected for salary arbitration, which might force the Rags to ship him out before he hampers them with a cap hit they cannot afford.  The problem with Stepan, as good as he is, is that he is a center with a right-handed shot, meaning he would either move Ryan Kesler over to the right wing or switch over to that spot himself, should the Anaheim Ducks swing for the fences and acquire him in a trade.

Since Anaheim really doesn’t need help on the right wing (and I say that cautiously – if Stepan truly were available, I don’t think the fact that he shoots righty should stop a team from inquiring about him), I take a look at a spot that the Ducks really do need to see strengthened: the left wing, specifically on the line of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

What’s going on with Alex Galchenyuk in Montreal?

I don’t exactly follow the Montreal Canadiens, but a few of our readers mentioned that Galchenyuk and Canadiens’ coach Michel Therrien don’t exactly see eye-to-eye.   Browsing through some fan forums and the comments section at some Canadiens sites was enough to tell me that Galchenyuk doesn’t appear to like Therrien’s system, and it’s not difficult to see why: of the 16 teams that qualified for the playoffs this year, the Canadiens’ offensive output of 2.61 goals per game was dead last.   That’s a bottom-third of the league offense right there, so it would make sense that Galchenyuk might be interested in finding a team that will do more to unlock his offensive potential.

It was also interesting to note that Montreal GM Marc Bergevin did not exactly give Galchenyuk a vote of confidence following the Canadiens’ elimination at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning:

"Will Alex Galchenyuk be a full-time centerman? Only time will tell.  Chucky is not there yet… He might never be a centreman. He might be, he could be."

“Might be” and “could be” are not re-assuring words when spoken by a general manager.  Bergevin was quick to defend his coach following Montreal’s elimination, and equally quick to cast some doubt as to how much he values Galchenyuk, all of which adds up to a sticky situation north of the border.

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And sticky it is: Galchenyuk fired his agent toward the end of June, and still has not agreed to terms with the Canadiens, who are certainly offering him a bridge deal and nothing more.   Bergevin has dismissed any worries over money and the team’s ability to agree to terms with Galchenyuk – “We’re fine with the cap, we have no problem with the money, we’re good. We’ll sign Chucky and move on” – but the bottom line is that it is July 10, and there has been no noticeable progress made.

Why the Anaheim Ducks should be mildly interested in this saga

Alex GalchenyukRyan GetzlafCorey Perry.

– vs –

Patrick Maroon – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry.

That about sums up why the Ducks should be interested, yes?

No offense to Patty, but Galchenyuk would make the first line as formidable a line in all the NHL.  No, Chucky has not become the superstar some expected – but he’s 21, and stuck in a system that might not be the best fit for him.   His 20-26-46 is already better than what Maroon gave the team last season, and one would think he would only get better playing alongside Getzlaf.

As is the case with Derek Stepan, I would be stunned if Montreal doesn’t work out a deal with this kid.   2014-2015 was a career season for Galchenyuk, and he still has not hit his ceiling.  With Carey Price in net and P.K. Subban at the blueline, Montreal should be able to build off of last year’s success to become a legitimate threat to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final,and keeping Galchenyuk is a no-brainer. Still, the fact that he fired his long-time agent could be a sign that he is playing hardball with Montreal, so if the Habs start listening to phone calls, Bob Murray should be one of the first ones Bergevin answers.

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