If the Montreal Canadiens are going to remain a strong team in an improving Eastern Conference, they are going to need improved scoring this season and beyond. While the addition of Jonathan Drouin will almost certainly help, a full season from Brendan Gallagher would be another great addition. The diminutive winger is one of the Habs’ leaders and most important forwards as high energy, gritty style brings a different look to the top six.
It was another tough season for Gallagher last year. He got off to a strong start but cooled off, along with the rest of the team, before suffering a broken hand. It was the second straight season with a serious hand injury and he seemed hampered by it upon returning to the lineup. By the time the playoffs came around he seemed to be finding his form, but was snake bitten along with many others when the team ran into Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers in the first round.
Season Stats: 64 GP, 10 goals, 19 assists, 29 points, +7 rating, 39 PIMS, 1 PPG, 0 SHG, 0 GWG, 187 shots, 15:06 TOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are prorating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
Gallagher should have a lock on a top-six right wing spot with the latest edition of the club, save for some late offseason drama from GM Marc Bergevin. Though the Habs boasts impressive winger depth, all of Max Pacioretty, Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen are natural left-wingers, and Alex Galchenyuk plays on the left side when not at centre. I do wonder if Drouin may get tried on the right side as he did at times in Tampa Bay, but nonetheless, Gallagher has the inside track on one of those spots. In addition, he should be in line for some power play time, as his ability to cause mayhem in from of the net is a valuable asset. Gallagher will almost certainly be playing with talented, offensive-minded linemates.
If everything comes together, Gallagher should be in line for a nice bounce back year. At this point in his career, it is unlikely he becomes a top line talent, but he gives everything he has every shift and has above average offensive instincts. If he can stay healthy while sticking to his style of play, there’s no reason he can’t challenge for 25 goals this season.