Saturday’s announcement that Brendan Gallagher had signed a six year, $22.5
million extension was met with a lot of surprise. There were no rumblings
that the sides were even talking and this wasn’t the bridge deal most had come
to expect as other Habs had signed over the years. Having had some time to
ponder the contract, our writers weigh in with their thoughts on whether or not
this was a good signing and what this could mean for Alex Galchenyuk.
Simon Aronson: I think this is a fair deal for both sides.
In Gallagher, the Canadiens get a player who at 22 years old should just be
entering his prime and the next six years should be the most productive of his
career. Gallagher has shown in his brief career that if he remains healthy
he can be counted on to score roughly 20 goals and 20 assists per season, play
solid defensively, and most importantly bring his full effort on every shift.
When looking at comparable contracts and factoring in some inflation over the
contract duration, an AAV of 3.75 million is pretty good value when comparing
him to Tuomo Ruutu, Matt Read, Benoit Pouliot, Bryan Bickell, and Adam Henrique.
The AAV may seem high when comparing him to Wayne Simmonds or Chris Kunitz,
however those contracts are among the best bargains in the league. My one
concern with this contract which many fans may share is whether or not Gallagher
can stay healthy over the next six seasons given the rugged style he plays and
the punishment he takes in front of the oppositions net. He has proven to
be quite durable so far and we can only hope it continues.
Brian La Rose: Earlier this season, I wrote about how the Habs
didn’t really need to try to sign Gallagher long-term as there probably isn’t a
whole lot more offensive upside left in him so they’d have been safe going with
a couple of shorter term pacts. I’m still of that mindset but given that
they gave him six years, clearly the organization feels he can be more than a
0.5 PPG player moving forward.
Money wise, it’s a good deal though I’m not going to call it a steal as some
have. If Gallagher picks up his offence and stays in the top six moving
forward, the contract will be a bargain. If he slides into a third line
role, then it’s not as cheap of a signing as it may seem. Couple that with
giving a player who plays as aggressive as Gallagher a six year deal and the
contract is not without its risks. That said, a core piece on the team has
been locked up for the long haul and that’s far from a bad thing.
Alex Létourneau: I don’t think it’s a secret from my
contributions to the site that I’m a Brendan Gallagher fan. So, yes, I’m pleased
with the signing. While I like the term, and I think the money’s reasonable –
especially if he develops into the perennial 25 to 30 goal scorer I think he’s
capable of being, the fact that he got a long term extension without the bridge
contract is something noteworthy. Marc Bergevin’s moves have always pointed to
trust being given to the younger core, and this is clearly a massive vote of
confidence for the youngster.
The question that this brings up, and analysts have already jumped all over
it, is what happens with Alex Galchenyuk’s contract extension? Does he also get
the long term extension or is there a bridge? I’ve seen comparisons to P.K.
Subban, Carey Price and Max Pacioretty’s contracts in terms of them getting the
bridge deal, but personally, I see this as a moot point given the potential size
of future contracts they could (and would) command. And let’s face it, they all
had growing pains. Not to knock Gallagher, and being a blue collar guy who does
the dirty work with scoring upside is not a knock at all, he doesn’t possess the
game breaker capabilities these other three players have. The ceiling, and
ultimately, the risk was higher for those players as well. Anyway, I like the
extension during the season, and Gallagher seems to agree, promptly scoring
against Buffalo after the extension was announced.
Paul MacLeod: Personally, I love Brendan Gallagher as a player.
His 100% commitment on every shift is an example of the way the game should be
played. However, when I first heard of this deal my response was ambivalent. Why
was I not overjoyed that one of my favourite players was locked up long term.
Like many of the posters on HabsWorld, I wondered: "why no bridge deal?" and "Is
the term too long for a player whose style is not conducive to a long career?"
Once again, however, Marc Bergevin has made a shrewd deal. The price point, a
3.75 million AAV is fair for a 20-20-40 player, which is what Gallagher has
proven capable of. However, if his production increases, which is a possibility
as he is still only 22 years old, it will be a bargain. The fact that the deal
is heavily front-loaded to mitigate the risk of an early drop-off in production
(and has no provisions for a no-trade or no-movement clause) has nicely hedged
Montreal’s bets with Gallagher.
In short, no pun intended, Gallagher has an affordable deal that allows
Montreal a great deal of flexibility if the unfortunate scenario arises where
they need to move him. Another win for Bergevin. Up next, Galchenyuk.
Norm Szcyrek: I am very pleased that Montreal has decided to
invest heavily in Brendan Gallagher with a six year contract. The move appears
to buck the trend that GM Marc Bergevin has followed previously with expecting
his young players to sign an bridge contract as they come out of their entry
level contract. Gallagher is a heart and soul type of player, giving 100% effort
every shift, every game. He has some offensive talent to back it up, and should
manage to score around 20 goals and 20 assists per season. He may possibly peak
with goals and assists numbers of 25 and 25, and maybe even a little more.
Considering all of this, his salary cap hit of $3.75 million is reasonable, with
a chance of becoming a good bargain. Sure there is some risk involved with any
long term contract like this one, but he has reported to training camp in great
shape every year, one of the team’s best in that category. There is a chance his
rambunctious style and willingness to get in front of the net will cause him
some injuries in the long term, but you cannot structure a pro hockey contract
based on those unknowns.
It will be interesting to see if Bergevin’s next contract with Alex
Galchenyuk, who is in a similar position to Gallagher, will follow the same
approach as he did with Brendan or will Bergevin go back to the bridge deal
during their negotiations. Of course the agent representing the player and their
negotiating style has a lot to do with that too. I would like to see Galchenyuk
signed to a similar deal if he’s willing, since that would lock up all of the
Habs current cornerstone players for the foreseeable future.