Marc Bergevin shook up Montreal’s forward unit late on Friday night, shipping Alex Galchenyuk to the Coyotes in exchange for Max Domi.
Domi had a strong rookie season in 2015-16 where he put up 18 goals (along with 34 assists) in 81 games. Since then, he has just 18 tallies in the past two years combined although he managed to put up 45 points (9-36-45) this past season. He went on a hot streak to finish the year where he put up 15 points in the final 14 games.
Galchenyuk hadn’t become Montreal’s top centre like many were hoping when he was drafted but he had emerged as a quality scoring winger for the Habs. This past season, he recorded 19 goals and 32 assists, his fourth straight season with at least 44 points. In his career thus far, he has 108 goals and 147 assists in 418 games.
The 24-year-old has two years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $4.9 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal. That last part is particularly notable as he’ll be hitting the open market at the age of 26 while Domi is a restricted free agent this summer though the belief is a new contract is imminent.
Though Domi was drafted as a centre, he has spent most of his career on the wing although he did see some time down the middle in 2017-18. It will be interesting to see if Marc Bergevin and Claude Julien believe he can play down the middle full-time. It appears the Coyotes are willing to give Galchenyuk a shot at his natural position with GM John Chayka stating that they wouldn’t have made the deal if they didn’t believe he could play there.
On the surface, this appears to be a bit of a head-scratcher for the Habs as they are losing the more dynamically-talended player who has the better scoring touch. On a team that struggles to score, it’s hard to lose one of their better snipers for a playmaker. It will certainly be interesting to see the domino effect from this trade – if they’re comfortable with Domi at centre, does Jonathan Drouin get shifted back to the wing where he should be more productive? Does it make them more comfortable taking someone like Filip Zadina, a dynamic goal scorer in his own right, at the draft on Friday night? As activity starts to pick up over the next few weeks, we shouldn’t have to wait too long for these answers.