Brendan Gallagher was one of the few bright spots offensively for the Habs last season. With some of their top scoring threats now gone, how will he fare with more pressure on his shoulders?
After more hand troubles had limited him to just a career-low ten goals in 2016-17, there were legitimate questions about how effective his shot would be long-term. (Max Domi is facing similar questions himself at the moment.) Fortunately for Gallagher, his willingness to drive the net offset those somewhat as you don’t need sharp hands for tap-in plays. Even better was that his shot seemed to get better as the season progressed.
The end result was Gallagher leading the team in both goals and points while becoming much more of a focal point of their attack. Instead of being moved around from the first to the third line as he had been in the past, he was a fixture on the front line. Not a whole lot went well last year but Gallagher’s performance was one of the exceptions and as a result, things are looking a lot better for him now than they were just a year ago.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 31 goals, 23 assists, 54 points, -13 rating, 34 PIMS, 8 PPG, 4 GWG, 278 shots, 16:09 ATOI, 54.2 CF%
5 Year Averages
With the Habs not having enough talent up front to ice a true front line, Gallagher could wind up bouncing back and forth a bit more between the first and second unit. As things stand, he is being tried with Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault which isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut.
Despite that, Gallagher should be a fixture on the top power play unit, especially coming off the year he just had. Montreal has limited right-shot options and he’s one of the few that’s willing to battle the net so expect him to be in his usual place about two feet away from the crease. While his uptick in power play production was rather significant (17 points in 2017-18 compared to 13 over the previous two years combined), he should be able to produce somewhere near that level again.
Even on teams that aren’t expected to do well, someone has to score. That’s what Gallagher benefitted from last season and despite the turnover up front, no one is expecting this team to drastically change on that front. Gallagher is once again going to be one of Montreal’s go-to players so a similar output to last season is a reasonable expectation though a small drop in his goal total appears to be likely.
As a result, Gallagher should be one of the first Montreal players off the board in most fantasy formats. Even if he doesn’t quite reach the 30-goal mark, he’ll still be worthy of a mid-round pick (unless it’s a really shallow pool) and given his uptick in shooting last year, give him a boost in your rankings as there’s no reason to think he’ll be shooting considerably less. He’s not going to be a player that makes or breaks your fortunes but he will be a good player to have in a supporting cast role.