Brendan Gallagher has taken considerable strides over the last two seasons to become a two-time 30-goal scorer. Will he be able to make it three straight years in 2019-20?
Fresh off a career year, it was difficult to project what Gallagher might do last season. There were some questions as to whether or not he’d be able to duplicate his performance and actually stay healthy, something that had been an issue with his previous wrist injuries. The questions went away in a hurry.
Gallagher became the offensive catalyst on a line that didn’t make a lot of sense on paper but worked very well on the ice as he spent most of the year alongside Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault. That unit dominated play at five-on-five throughout the season and Gallagher wound up with a new career-high in goals along the way despite his power play goal total getting cut in half.
Earlier this month, TSN’s Travis Yost had a column on Gallagher and some of the points made are worth noting here. It seemed like the winger was willing to shoot from just about anywhere as he cracked the 300 shot mark for the first time. To put that in perspective, Max Domi was the only other Hab to reach 200 (and Domi got there in the last game of the season). The shots weren’t cheapies either as the average distance was 28 feet so a lot of those weren’t just weak attempts from the perimeter.
It’s also worth highlighting that Gallagher didn’t have many slumps which is a bit of a rarity from goal scorers. He had only two stretches of four games or more without a point and one of those came at the end of the year when he was playing through an injury. Gallagher not only met his expectations last season but somehow found a way to exceed them.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 33 goals, 19 assists, 52 points, +10 rating, 49 PIMS, 4 PPG, 4 GWG, 302 shots, 16:24 ATOI, 59.1 CF%
5 Year Averages
It’s hard to imagine much changing in Gallagher’s role at five-on-five. He has been the top right winger for a while now and that’s unlikely to change unless Jonathan Drouin shifts over there in Andrew Shaw’s absence and starts making the type of impact they’ve been waiting for him to provide. (And even then it wouldn’t be a given that Drouin would be ahead given what else Gallagher provides.) It’s reasonable to think they’ll want to keep the same trio together as last season, at least to start.
One area that could change is his power play usage. Shaw took up a lot of power play time last season as someone that was a right-hand shot and was willing to go in front of the net. Joel Armia isn’t an ideal fit in that role so it’s quite possible that Gallagher could be asked to take on a larger share of the workload on the man advantage. He’s not an ideal fit in that area either given his size but he has a penchant for having some success near the goal crease. That could allow his ATOI to get past the 17-minute mark which would be a new career mark for him.
While a dip in five-on-five production is certainly possible (I think that line overachieved a little bit as a group last season), an uptick in power play points is a reasonable expectation so the two should largely offset each other. As long as he stays healthy (and with his style of play and wrist issues, that’s far from a given), Gallagher should be able to be around the 30-goal mark for a third straight year which would be quite the accomplishment.
From a fantasy perspective, Gallagher should be off the board fairly quickly in most leagues. Any pool that has shots as a scoring category will result in him being boosted significantly considering he’s among the elite in that department. His feistiness gives him plenty of hits as well so give him another boost in rankings for leagues using that stat. In deep pools, Gallagher is a capable number one right winger while in smaller ones, he’s a high-end second liner. He should be one of the first Habs off the board as a result.