Two seasons into his NHL career, former 3rd overall pick Alex Galchenyuk has
shown that he can be a quality secondary scorer despite turning just 20 years
old partway through last year. As he enters the final year of his entry
level contract, will this season be the one where he takes that big step forward
towards being a legitimate top liner for the Habs?
Galchenyuk got off to a blistering start to the season, collecting seven
points in a four game point streak to kick off the campaign. He followed
that up with a respectable nine points in the next 18 contests but as the second
half came around, he suffered the dreaded sophomore jinx (just two goals in 20
games from January through March) while also missing time with a broken hand.
His play picked up in the final few games before he suffered a lower body injury
that cost him the first two rounds of the postseason, ending his year on a low
note. He did, however, return to action for Game 2 in the New York series
and picked up three points in five games (including a game winner in overtime)
while playing alongside Tomas Plekanec on the second line.
Season Stats: 65 GP, 13 G, 18 A, 31 PTS, -12 rating, 26 PIMS, 3
PPG, 2 GWG, 110 shots, 14:23 ATOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of
2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
While many would prefer that he start at his natural position, it appears all
but certain that Galchenyuk will once again be lining up on the left wing to
start the season. On that side, only one role seems locked in place, that
being Max Pacioretty as the #1. Depending on how the other lines look,
it’s expected that Galchenyuk will be on either the second or third trio.
If he’s on line two, he’ll likely play with Tomas Plekanec as he did in the
postseason. The downside to that is that it wouldn’t be in much of an
offensive role but on the plus side, Galchenyuk’s two-way game would improve
(and it needs to for him to become a top line player). If he goes to the
third line, he’d see time with Lars Eller as he did at the beginning of last
year when he got off to a strong start offensively.
As for special teams, no matter where he plays, Galchenyuk will see plenty of
powerplay time once again. (I know the narrative out there is that he
didn’t see much of any time with the powerplay last year but only three
full-season forwards (Pacioretty, Desharnais, and Gallagher) played more per
game than Galchenyuk did on the man advantage.) With Pacioretty being entrenched on
that top unit though, Galchenyuk’s time will be on the second wave which will
hurt his potential production there. Given his defensive woes, he won’t be
seeing much in the way of time on the penalty kill.
It’s safe to project that he will have an uptick in production as he enters
his third season but how much of an increase will be the question. I know
some are hopeful that Galchenyuk can ascend towards the 60 point plateau but
that’s probably not realistic given where he’s going to be in the lineup.
I expect he’ll see lots of time with Plekanec and playing that two-way role will
be more beneficial for his development down the road even if it comes at the
expense of points in the short-term. One other benefit from playing with
Plekanec will be an increase in ice time. Galchenyuk saw his ATOI go up
2:04 last year and it’s reasonable to expect another similar jump in ice time
this coming season.
From a fantasy perspective, his best value would be as a third line winger
with second line upside. I’d be wary of committing to him as a #2 unless
you’re backing up that pick with another left winger with 40 point upside to
hedge your bet so to speak. I wouldn’t reach for him in keeper leagues as
his best days are still to come and you’re not likely going to have him as one
of your keepers after the year. In deep leagues, he’s a viable mid-round
selection while in smaller pools, he should go a bit after that point.