Marc Bergevin certainly isn’t afraid of making potentially unpopular moves. Following his latest of those trades which saw Alex Galchenyuk go to Arizona for Max Domi, our writers weigh in with their thoughts on the swap.
Terry Costaris: This trade does not address the organization’s desperate need for promising centres or defencemen. The biggest shock was that Bergevin failed to get a high-end pick or prospect along with Domi. NHL trades are a lot like real estate, the price of a home is not based on how much time and money you’ve put into it but what the market dictates.
Taking this analogy further, Galchenyuk might be a “nice house on a nice street” but the market has spoken and he is not worth Domi plus. After a year of trying, Galchenyuk is simply not worth his asking price and was sold at a price reduction.
As much as most fans want to say that Bergevin is incompetent for making this deal – giving away a potentially great player for a potentially good player – if something better was truly offered then he would have gone for it.
Bergevin though needs to take ownership for lowering Galchenyuk’s value. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain by allowing him to at least play centre occasionally during the last 20 games. The GM needs serious assistance in the area of player development and asset management. That nice house that I spoke of here had some cracks in the basement and needed some renos. Selling it as is was not the right thing to do.
One thing is for certain, the fan base has gone into anaphylactic shock. Bergevin now has zero political capital. Everything he does going forward will now be severely questioned. Bergevin’s lack of strong communication skills are also not helping this situation. Who let him make those YouTube comments?
All these factors then have created a very toxic environment – one in which Geoff Molson will likely have to address within a year if not earlier.
The person who I feel most sorry for here is Domi. The poor kid did nothing wrong. He is being torn to shreds. He will never be given a fair chance. The fan base, especially online, is super cruel. Remember, he is a human being and not a commodity. Sometimes we fans forget that these people that we cheer and jeer are not “characters” in a soap opera but living, feeling persons. This is a pretty bad situation for this young man to be thrown into.
I just hope that Domi does not try to win fans over by getting into some stupid preseason fights and either gets concussed or suspended in order to prove himself. Slow and steady will win the race with this young man.
The player development and psychological staff need to keep him nice and calm. The coaching staff better be on red alert. They weren’t with Andrew Shaw and I believe this has hurt his career. Hopefully, they will learn from their mistakes.
What’s done is done. Hab fans should not take their frustration out on Domi or this could quickly turn into another Scott Gomez show.
Tom Donovan: My initial reaction to the Galchenyuk trade might be summed up as follows: Quick, someone stop him – Bergevin – before it’s too late!
But I’ve since tempered my assessment and come to the conclusion that Galchenyuk had to go largely because of attitude and off-ice issues: Last October the Sporting News reported that he’d twice entered the league’s substance abuse program, and RDS’s François Gagnon Saturday suggested that he is more inclined to defer to his father than he is to the Canadiens’ coaching staff, sometimes even taking phone calls from his pops between periods.
But you certainly can’t fault the player for wanting out of Montreal: the Canadiens played him up and down the lineup like a yo-yo after it became apparent that he wasn’t ready for primetime duty as an NHL centre. There have been questions, too, about his commitment to winning and to the team. Like so many young players – Domi included – Galchenyuk has struggled to find consistency, but in his case, it was plainly obvious that the commitment to defence just wasn’t there on a nightly basis. Galchenyuk is essentially a gifted shooter with limited playmaking ability.
Domi, by all accounts, has more grit to his game – the truculence is hardwired into his DNA – and is a superior puck distributor whose primary assist totals bode well for a potential pairing with a natural goal-scorer like Filip Zadina. And when it comes to winning, Domi cares more than Galchenyuk ever will.
Taking Galchenyuk’s contract off the books also gives Bergevin more leeway. The larger question, of course, is where will the goals come from, with Galchenyuk and Pacioretty – the next domino to fall, presumably – gone?
Hab fans will know more in the days and weeks ahead, starting next weekend when the NHL Draft gets underway in the Lone Star State. The possibilities, if you believe the pundits, are endless.
Brian La Rose: For a team that struggles to score, taking one of their better goal scorers away for a playmaker seems a little odd on the surface. I get that the hope is that Domi can help get some of the players who struggled going next season but that’s not a guarantee.
There are some things to like here – in particular, the extra cap space to work with and the extra years of team control. As soon as the Habs signed Galchenyuk for three years last summer, his departure seemed inevitable for this very reason. If the savings allow Montreal to add another impact player on the free agent market, that will certainly make this look better.
What is my bigger concern here, however, is that one of Montreal’s better trade chips has been used without really filling one of their needs. If they dealt for Galchenyuk for a legitimate top-six centre or a top-four left-shot defenceman, then at least they’re addressing some other area of weakness. Merely flipping him in a lateral swap doesn’t feel like the best usage of that asset.
I don’t think that Galchenyuk’s trade value around the league was as high as some believed it was – the reality is that he’s a streaky scorer and the days of him having 70+ point upside are probably over after failing to hit 60 at any point in his career. I also doubt that would have changed had he stayed in Montreal next season. I’m okay with the decision to move him but while Domi should certainly be a quality player for the Habs, they’re running out of trade chips to fill their two biggest holes. It would have been a lot better had they been able to use Galchenyuk to fix one of those issues.
Kevin Leveille: My issue with this trade is the same issue I had with the Subban-Weber trade and the Sergachev-Drouin trade. When making a trade, a team should be doing one of the following things: 1) Sacrificing immediate talent to fill an immediate organizational need. 2) Sacrificing immediate talent for equal potential talent while filling more than one organizational need. 3) Upgrading immediate talent regardless of organizational needs. I think these trades do NOT fulfill one of these in any way. I’ll give Bergevin a break and admit that the idea with Drouin was to place him at centre which would have filled a need, but it didn’t work out. This is another one of the same type. On a team lacking in skill with an overabundance of “intangibles” and “grit”, Bergevin gave up yet another skilled player for a player type the organization already has a ton of. I like Weber, I like Drouin; I’m sure I’ll like Domi but it doesn’t respond at all to what is currently missing on the roster. Not even close. Perhaps I’m assessing Galchenyuk too high, but to me, his ceiling is higher than Domi’s, his career production is higher than Domi’s, so there is no way that this trade should happen without Arizona needing to add a pick. I’m not talking their first-rounder, but a pick is required to make this trade an even one for me, never mind the idea of Bergevin actually winning a deal.
Paul MacLeod: I am starting to get the feeling that with the damage Bergevin’s stupidity is wreaking on the Habs that there might not be another Canadiens’ Cup victory in my lifetime.
This trade is typical Bergevin: a one for one trade with no upside. A trade that surrenders the player with the higher potential but without any additional picks and prospects to hedge the risk. Most importantly, it is a LW for a LW so that if by some miracle it works out in favour of Montreal, it does not matter — because the move doesn’t address any of the team’s glaring weaknesses.
What really infuriates me is that the Coyotes are going to play Galchenyuk at centre and last year during a lost season the Habs didn’t play him there. The lack of vision in not playing him at centre in meaningless games is mind-boggling. I hope Galchenyuk dominates at centre for the Coyotes because that might hasten Bergevin’s long overdue firing.
Norm Szcyrek: Wow. I mean, the rumours have been around for nearly a couple of seasons that Galchenyuk was going to be traded. I remember when Alex first began playing for Montreal, he tried very hard to be the type of player who would attempt to beat players one-on-one then unleash a wrist shot from in close. He discovered that those moves that worked for him in junior hockey did not translate to the NHL. Over time I could tell he spent a lot of time developing his shot, to the point where his one-timer from the right faceoff circle became deadly, helping him to score 30 goals two seasons ago. Of course, he did not adjust well to playing centre, not handling the defensive responsibilities of the position. So what! Guy Lafleur was a natural centre as a junior player, and he admitted he could not play centre in the NHL either for the same reasons.
I don’t mind Montreal obtaining a guy like Domi, who is a very good playmaking winger who can sometimes play centre and has excellent speed, acceleration, and hockey sense. I would have hoped they could have got him for a couple of 2nd round picks instead of Galchenyuk, because Montreal had a lot of difficulty scoring goals this past season, and now they are weaker in that area. Regardless, Domi should help the team, but unless he gravitates to becoming a top-six centre consistently, it’s difficult to predict how Montreal will benefit more from this trade than Arizona.
It looks like Bergevin doesn’t like to keep players that show any off ice issues related to drinking or partying. Just ask Devante Smith-Pelly, Christian Thomas, Nathan Beaulieu, or Zack Kassian (that one was obviously going to happen). It’s a good thing the Bergevin didn’t become the GM for the Habs when Carey Price was known to party in his early 20’s, or else he would have traded him too. I believe on a talent basis, Arizona wins this trade by a significant amount.
One positive perspective to this trade that Domi is the type of player who helps makes his linemates better. He collected 36 assists with many of them being the primary assist, so he can really set up his teammates. In addition, many considered his last season to be somewhat down for production, partly due to his lack of goals scored. To put that in perspective, the last time a Habs forward scored more than 36 assists in the last seven seasons was Tomas Plekanec in 2015-16 with 40, and David Desharnais in 2011-12 with 44 helpers. In both cases, each left shooting centre had Max Pacioretty on his wing. I suspect that Bergevin is hoping Domi will shift to the right wing or centre and develop some chemistry with Max to help both players’ output.
Dave Woodward: The Galchenyuk-Domi deal is the culmination of the Canadiens’ frustration with Galchenyuk and most likely Galchenyuk’s own bewilderment with the Habs’ management team. In Saturday’s press conference, Bergevin indicated that they did everything to help Galchenyuk develop. Hmm. Since he scored 30 goals and 56 points in 2015-16 as a centre and had an excellent start to the 2016-17 season before sustaining a serious knee injury, he has been constantly moved up and down the line-up and periodically publicly criticized. Domi had also failed to meet expectations in Arizona. After a strong rookie season, Domi had some injuries in his sophomore year and has only scored 18 goals in the last two seasons. The deal is an exchange of young players with unfulfilled potential that needed a change of scenery.
Since Domi has been playing in Arizona, most Canadiens fans are likely unfamiliar with Domi. This writer lives in London where Domi played for the estimable London Knights. His junior career was outstanding. Domi put up 102 points in 57 games in his final OHL season. The Knights won two OHL Championships during Domi’s tenure and Domi was also a key member of Team Canada’s Gold Medal winning World Junior team. Despite an impressive rookie season, his professional career has been somewhat disappointing to date.
Overall, it is pretty clear that the Canadiens parted with the player who possesses the superior toolkit. Galchenyuk is the more dynamic player of the two at the NHL level. Galchenyuk is also a proven goal scorer at the NHL level. They both average 0.61 points per game in the NHL. But after scoring 18 goals in his rookie season, Domi has only scored 18 goals the last two seasons and four of his nine goals last year were empty netters. Domi has played some centre (like Galchenyuk) but is primarily a left winger. On a team that struggles to score and has gaping holes at left defence and centre, the deal is difficult to characterize as a win for the Canadiens. For the second consecutive June, the Canadiens have dealt one of their primary assets for a player that does not clearly address an organizational weakness.
There are a few reasons why the deal may be rationalized. Firstly, Galchenyuk’s contract expires after the 2019-20 season and the chances of him signing with the Habs after the soap opera that has been his relationship with Bergevin et. al. is rather slim. Domi is under club control for another four years. Age is not an issue (Domi is 23 and Alex is 24) but club control is. Also, there have always been innuendos about off-ice issues with Galchenyuk. Although Domi has not yet reached his potential as a pro, no one has ever accused him of taking shifts off or more generally his commitment to being a pro. The word “attitude” comes to mind here (However, unlike Bergevin, some take issue with whether a good attitude alone wins). Domi is also a playmaker and his assist totals support that (9G, 36A, 45P last season).
Overall, Galchenyuk seems like another skilled Montreal Canadien who was dealt (i) at a time when his value was at its lowest; (ii) for a less skilled player; and (iii) for a player that does not address a serious deficiency in the roster and in fact plays a position (left wing) where the Canadiens actually have some depth. Max Domi is a good player but his skills and his position do not address the Habs’ most urgent roster needs. Notwithstanding some encouraging hires on the player development and coaching front over the last several weeks, it is hard not to conclude that this summer’s first major personnel move has begun similarly to Bergevin’s disastrous 2017 offseason. This is yet another Houleian move by Bergevin.