Alex Galchenyuk continues to be someone that shows flashes of dominance while at other times he’s much less noticeable. Will that continue in 2017-18 or will this be the year he puts it all together most consistently?
Galchenyuk started the season at centre and actually spent a decent part of the season at that spot. However, both Michel Therrien and Claude Julien had concerns about his all-around game and opted to move him back to the wing at times.
In terms of his production, he was his typical up-and-down self although there were more ups than downs. He quietly posted the best points per game average of his career and managed to do so while playing less per night than he had in the previous two years. It’s also worth noting that he did this while shooting way less than the year before to the tune of 0.75 shots per game.
His regular season ended on a bit of a sour note as he was surprisingly dropped to the fourth line, something that continued into the playoffs. Galchenyuk was moved back into the top six by the end of their first round loss to the Rangers though but he finished up on the wing which has led to another offseason of speculation about what his primary position should be.
Season Stats: 61 GP, 17 goals, 27 assists, 44 points, -5 rating, 24 PIMS, 6 PPG, 6 GWG, 104 shots, 15:56 ATOI
Playoff Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 0 PPG, 0 GWG, 13 shots, 16:36 ATOI
5 Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a full 82 game season.)
Is he a centre or is he a winger? Comments made by Julien and GM Marc Bergevin implied they’d prefer him on the wing but if they aren’t able to shore up their depth down the middle between now and the start of the year, could they give Galchenyuk another look at that spot? It certainly seems like a strong possibility.
If they do put him down the middle, he likely would slot in as the number one pivot which should give him a nice bump in ice time and he should have strong wingers on either side. However, if he stays on the left side, he’s likely going to slot in behind Max Pacioretty once again which will put him back on the second line and closer to that 16 minute a game mark. Conservatively speaking, there’s a good chance he’ll wind up spending some time at both spots which will only build the angst amongst those in the fan base that want him at centre for good.
Regardless of where he lines up at full strength, he should still log prominent minutes on the man advantage, particularly if they decide to go with four forwards on the top unit. Galchenyuk was used at times on his off-wing with the power play where his shot became more of a weapon and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them try that again at times, especially if they’re going to be pushing for him to be a bit more trigger-happy in 2017-18.
The temptation is there to suggest that Galchenyuk, armed with a new three-year contract, is poised to really bust through and live up to his draft billing. I’m not prepared to make that jump though.
Over the past few years, he has incrementally improved and that’s a much safer bet to make to go alongside what should be at least a small increase in ice time. If he can stay healthy, he should make a run at his first career 60 point season.
From a fantasy league perspective, Galchenyuk should be somewhere within the third tier of forwards to go (the first two being the superstars and the players who consistently are around the 70 point range). Bump him up in the rankings a bit if he’s given dual positions in your league as that flexibility is always nice to have. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him go off the boards a bit earlier than his past production would suggest though as he’s always a popular pick to have that big breakout season.