Brendan Gallagher has been one of Montreal’s steadier goal scorers in recent years but two big additions on the right wing this offseason could certainly cut into his production for next season.
Why mess with what works? That was Claude Julien’s mantra when it came to Gallagher’s deployment last season. There were times that the lines were shuffled around but if all of him, Tomas Tatar, and Phillip Danault were healthy, they were together at even strength and more often than not, good things happened. He tied for the team lead in goals with Tatar and led the Habs in shots by a country mile. In other words, same old, same old (and I mean that in a good way).
That changed in the playoffs. While he was playing through a lingering hip issue, he just wasn’t all that effective. Sure, he was getting shots through but his penchant for scoring crucial goals (or basically any goals) wasn’t there. Then for good measure, his jaw was broken against Philadelphia, ending his postseason prematurely and sending him to the offseason on a sour note.
I also want to highlight his power play numbers. Montreal struggled mightily with the man advantage all season long but Gallagher logged a little more than two minutes per game on the power play and scored a whopping one goal in basically two hours of playing time. It’s not as if he had a bunch of assists either as he had just four. There were plenty of underachievers in that situation but he may very well have been the biggest one.
Season Stats: 59 GP, 22 goals, 21 assists, 43 points, +9 rating, 29 PIMS, 1 PPG, 1 GWG, 226 shots, 16:55 ATOI, 60.6 CF%
Playoff Stats: 9 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 1 PPG, 0 GWG, 37 shots, 16:56 ATOI, 55.3 CF%
5 Year Averages
(2019-20’s stats were extrapolated to an 82-game rate.)
In recent years, Gallagher’s role as the top right winger was basically set due to the fact that they haven’t had any other players that could challenge him for that position. That isn’t the case anymore as Tyler Toffoli is a capable scorer and the Habs are paying Josh Anderson like they believe he can get to that level as well. Theoretically speaking, one of them could take his spot on that top trio.
However, I don’t expect that to happen. With training camps being shortened, existing chemistry is going to be relied on and if the Tatar-Danault-Gallagher picks up where it left off, it’s going to be hard to break them up regardless of how well Toffoli and Anderson play. At five-on-five, I expect Gallagher’s usage will be similar to what we’ve seen recently.
On the power play, that’s not the case. Gallagher’s inability to produce with the man advantage wasn’t just a one-off last season; he just isn’t very good in that situation. Over the last four years, he has 14 power play goals, eight of which came in one year. Anderson and Toffoli should both take his minutes, dropping Gallagher to a PP2 role or off the man advantage entirely (probably the former). That will be a bit of a change for him to adapt to.
Back when I commented about Gallagher’s extension in our Writers Weigh In piece (I was the dissenting voice on the contract), one of the concerns I had was that Gallagher’s output would likely go down as a result of Toffoli and Anderson but I’m not so sure about that now. His usage should stay the same at five-on-five and that’s where he does most of his damage anyway. The possibility of less power play time doesn’t move the needle much. (That’s not changing my viewpoint on the extension – it was still too long and too rich when set against the current economic environment.)
In that sense, it’s basically another same old, same old situation for Gallagher. He should produce somewhere near a 30-goal and 50-point pace over a full 82-game season assuming he stays healthy and while that point total is a little low for a 1RW, the fact that it comes without big power play production mitigates that somewhat.
Having said that, I wouldn’t have Gallagher higher than a 2RW in most leagues, even the deeper ones. Power play points still matter in those pools and those are categories that he’s not going to do much in. He shoots more than most players in the league so at least he gets a boost for pools that have that as a scoring category but it still doesn’t put him into that top tier. He should go in the top half of drafts in all but the thinnest of leagues but his value to the Habs is more than what he’ll provide in a pool.
Since we don’t know the season length at this time, we’re going to use two sets of numbers. The first will be based on a 56-game campaign which is the NHL’s revised target for a mid-January start while the numbers in brackets will be those numbers pro-rated to a 48-game length which is speculated to be the minimum number of games they intend to play.
GP: 53 (45)
Goals: 18 (15)
Assists: 14 (12)
Points: 32 (27)
+/-: +7 (+6)
PIMS: 21 (18)
PPG: 1 (1)
GWG: 3 (3)
Shots: 156 (133)