For two Canadiens, it’s time to shine.
Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher have the opportunity of a lifetime this season to become big-time. The path has been paved; the gates have been opened. It doesn’t matter where they were drafted now — Galchenyuk was drated in the first round, Gallagher the fifth. They both have expectations to fulfill and they both have equally important roles to play.
There comes a time in every young NHLer’s career when he has to have that big coming out party. For the two Gs its now. They’re both in contract years if that helps them at all. Brendan Gallagher’s development has been slightly ahead of Alex Galchenyuk’s, earning key minutes from his hustle. His expectations from day one, haven’t been as high as Galcheyuk’s but nevertheless, he has his fair share of success to live up to.
In his first season with the club, he posted 15 goals and 28 points in 44 games of a lock-out shortened season. In his second, he put up 19 goals and 41 points in 81 games, including 11 points in 17 playoff games. He averaged under 16 minutes of TOI. His work ethic on the ice is nothing short of spectacular and his numbers are right on track for a player of his type. He’ll have to back up his continued progress this season by racking up even more numbers. He should be able to score 25 goals. But we know we can expect an elite level of compete and battle from him night in and night out.
Alex Galchenyuk has now been handed the opportunity to become this team’s top forward. In his first year with the club, he posted 9 goals and 27 points in 48 games, and followed that up with a 13 goal and 31 point performance in a 65-game season during which he fought through injury. He had 3 points in 5 playoff games against the Rangers. He averaged over 14 minutes of TOI. That number will have to increase this season, with plenty of quality minutes up for grabs on the Montreal top-six. A good part of the Canadiens’ success will depend on his play , considering they are a team that finished 21st in offense last season. He needs to become a scoring threat and a major defensive assignment every game. He needs to be dangerous with the puck and show those super skills we saw in junior with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He needs to create offense and make his linemates better by opening up time and space for them. Wether he is put in at centre or winger, he has to have a “wow” season.
Marc Bergevin didn’t re-sign Thomas Vanek, nor did he reap in another big free agent scorer this summer. Instead, he decided to go forward with the talent being cultivated within the organization. With 20-25 goals from one of the most frustrating players to play against in Brendan Gallagher, and point-per-game production from a highly skilled Alex Galchenyuk, the Canadiens can instil some serious fear in their Atlantic Division opponents.