Montreal Canadiens: Give Alex Galchenyuk a Final Chance at Center

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 20: Alex Galchenyuk
MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 20: Alex Galchenyuk /

Alex Galchenyuk has been struggling to get Claude Julien’s trust. A big reason is that he hasn’t gotten a chance at center with the Montreal Canadiens yet.

It seems like Alex Galchenyuk has not gotten a real chance to prove what he can do with the Montreal Canadiens since Claude Julien took over. There is not a player who has been misused as much as Galchenyuk since the end of last season.

It’s fair to say Galchenyuk is not playing as well as many expect he should. The problem is because he is not playing at center. It was shocking when the team announced at the beginning of training camp that Galchenyuk would not start down the middle. Jonathan Drouin was going to get a shot over him, and the organization spent the entire summer dropping hints about it. However, Galchenyuk not even getting a look made it seem evident there was an issue regarding their confidence in him. Management should though, despite Drouin continuing to grow into a serviceable center, Galchenyuk is the offensive option at that position the Habs need.

The reason why Galchenyuk needs to be there

The problem is Julien does not trust his defensive aspect of his game. Playing alongside two-way forwards such as Artturi Lehkonen (once he gets back) and Paul Byron could help Galchenyuk. He’s also shown flashes of having great chemistry with Byron which led to the pair scoring a combined seven points in the 10-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings.

The 2013 1st round pick set up Byron on a few of his goals and was a part of him getting that hat-trick.  It showed glimpses of how successful he was this time last year when he was playing center. That was of course before his knee injury on December 4, 2016, when he collided with Anze Kopitar.

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It makes sense that Galchenyuk started off slowly when he returned. Unfortunately, his poor play had him pushed back to the wing. He put up 21 points in the final 26 games of the season and wasn’t used in the right situations. Galchenyuk may not be amazing defensively, but his offense down the middle is elite when he is at his best.

With the end of the 2015-16 season and beginning of the 2016-17 season, Galchenyuk put up 39 points in 44 games. Those numbers put him in the conversation with some of the best players in the league at the time. Who knows where he would’ve finished points-wise if he hadn’t gotten hurt. He was on pace for around 70 points last season, and it would’ve been interesting to see if he could’ve maintained it.

Galchenyuk’s health isn’t a question anymore, but he came to camp with the Habs management not having any confidence in him. Julien and his coaching staff need to realize that he can be a difference maker for a team struggling to score.

Montreal Canadiens
ST. PAUL, MN – (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

How he fits at center vs. wing

One thing for sure about Galchenyuk is he has produced best at center throughout his career. He would likely serve as a great option for a speedy winger like Byron. Playing Galchenyuk may limit his time in the offensive zone to make plays with the puck,  but he is a better sniper up the middle as he scored the majority of his 30 goals in the 2015-16 season from that area of the ice.

Julien needs to give him a fair chance to allow Galchenyuk to flourish.  He has yet to receive a real opportunity to show the Montreal Canadiens what he can do with the new staff, and it’s most likely affected his confidence.  The best thing would be to give him one last shot at center.

If it doesn’t work out, put Galchenyuk back on the wing and we’ll all have our final answer on where he fits on the team. On the other hand, If the organization feels they need to move on, that could be another option.

However, they must make sure to get the most out of him before that as they don’t want to regret trading such a talented player. Unfortunately, Julien has been involved in something like this in the past. He’s pushed gifted players such as Tyler Seguin out of his lineup who moved on to another team and became a superstar. The Montreal Canadiens can’t have that happen with Galchenyuk as they will regret it for years unless the return makes up for it.

Here is hoping the Canadiens give Galchenyuk a real last chance at center.

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Is there any way the Montreal Canadiens move Galchenyuk back to center? Let us know what you think down below.