Alex Galchenyuk suffered a hand injury against the Florida Panthers. He is out for six weeks and will be back when the Olympic break ends at the earliest. This means Galchenyuk will miss at least 15 games for the low scoring Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens currently rank 21st in the NHL in goal scoring. Couple that with the fact Galchenyuk is fourth on the team in points, and it quickly becomes clear that Montreal will not be scoring in bunches over the next month and a half.
Galchenyuk has played most of the season at left wing, which just so happens to be the weakest position on the Habs roster. Behind Max Pacioretty, the Habs don’t have a natural left winger except for Travis Moen. Habs fans do not want to go back in time to when Jacques Martin would often put Moen on the second line, so what can the Habs do to avoid this?
Well, for now it appears Daniel Briere will stay on the left side and play with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Just what Plekanec needs, another winger who has struggled mightily this season. I know Briere had that one game where he got points, but he has been terrible with the Habs, and is not a long term solution in Montreal’s top six.
So, the Canadiens need to find someone to play left wing in the Habs top six. First thing they should do is give Michael Bournival the opportunity to reprise his role as Plekanec’s winger. Bournival is a rookie winger who has struggled offensively while stuck on the fourth line. However, when he played alongside Plekanec, he had an impressive burst of nine points in 12 games. It may seem like he has not deserved the promotion with his recent struggles, but at least I am not the only one thinking it.
His speed, smarts, impressive defensive game and possible offensive upside make him a perfect fit for Plekanec’s line. Plekanec always gets the tough matchups playing against the best players on the opposition, but Bournival has shown he can handle defensive responsibility, which is something Briere can not say for himself.
Another option would be to bring someone up from the farm team. The problem is no Hamilton Bulldog is playing so well that they have earned a big role on the Canadiens.
Louis Leblanc has played well this season, and showed some bursts of offense. If there was ever a time to bring this guy and see what he can offer at the NHL level, that would be now. He is known as a two way player, and most fans had higher expectations for him at this point in his development. I think it would make a lot of sense to bring him up, throw him in a top six role and see if he sinks or swims.
Briere, Bournival and Leblanc may work out, but if Montreal is going to start finding the back of the net heading in the second half and into the playoffs, they will need to find it from outside the organization.
One option would be to bring back Mike Cammalleri. He has played alongside Plekanec and Gionta before, can score in bunches, and is going to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. He could be a perfect rental for the Habs, as we all remember how well he played in the playoffs while a member of the Canadiens. Calgary is undoubtedly going into fire sale mode soon, and jumping on Cammalleri may be a great fit for the Habs.
He was, of course, thrown out of town rather unceremoniously in the middle of a game, so maybe a return to Montreal is not on his to do list. That was under different management though, so if he has any hard feelings, they would likely be directed at Pierre Gauthier, and not the current organization.
If the Canadiens are willing to be bold, they could chase Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders. Vanek is an elite level goal scorer and would fill a huge need on the Habs roster. The problem is it would cost the Canadiens an arm and a leg to get him. Vanek was already traded this season, and it cost the Islanders a first round pick, a second round pick and sniper Matt Moulson. Which makes me wonder…
Would the Canadiens be interested in Matt Moulson? Why not? He is not at the same level as Vanek, but Moulson can find the back of the net with ease. Most people thought when he was dealt to Buffalo, and taken away from John Tavares, that he would fall of the face of the earth. His scoring has come down a bit, but 18 points in 29 games has him second on the Sabres, even though everyone else played 44 games.
What I am trying to say is, Moulson can score at a pretty steady pace with no help, and he would thrive on a line with Plekanec. He may not be the near point per gamer he was with Tavares, but his goal scoring abilities would shine in the Habs top six, which is just what the Canadiens need.
The Montreal Canadiens are safely in the postseason picture at the moment. However, goal scoring has been an issue all year, and that will be magnified without Galchenyuk in the lineup. It is time for the Habs management to go out and get some help for Plekanec, and stop with this revolving door of Briere, Moen and Bourque on his line. As Bleacher Report mentions here, Plekanec’s three most frequently used wingers, Gionta, Bourque and Moen, should all be on the trading block.
It would cost the Habs their first round pick for sure to get Moulson. However, the Eastern Conference is absolutely wide open this year, and Carey Price is playing as well as he ever has. If there was ever a time to try and bolster the Habs lineup this would be the year, and why wait until the trade deadline in March? Make the move now, and capitalize on having a sniper around for an extra 20 games this season.