Montreal Canadiens: 2012 Draft Must Be A Distant Memory For Alex Galchenyuk

Apr 18, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alex Galchenyuk (12) skates against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Canucks won 3- 2 in Overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alex Galchenyuk (12) skates against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Canucks won 3- 2 in Overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

I’ll be honest with you, the fall from grace for former Montreal Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk, has been as disappointing as it has been ultimately expected and admittedly at times, amusing.

The 2021-22 season wasn’t a good one for the Arizona Coyotes. Actually, scratch that, not only was it not a good season, it was one of the worst the franchise has experienced in possibly their entire history. The Coyotes financial situation and lack of success, depth or in certain cases a roster entirely, has been well documented over the course of this year. From their lack of a starting goalie to their lack of defense, to their move to a 5,000 seat University Arena which they will begin play in next season after their current lease expired (yes, I’m not joking), the Coyotes quickly became a punching bag for the rest of the NHL, and to an extent, the AHL (most AHL and even ECHL arenas have beyond 5,000 seat capacity).

While there were some bright spots, such as the resurgence of Clayton Keller as a true top scoring threat, to Nick Schmaltz PPG clip, to Shayne Gostisbehere’s impressive bounce back campaign, to even Czech league veteran Karel Vejmelka doing what he could as starter, Galchenyuk, rather unfortunately, got lost in the mix somewhere in between, posting just 5-16-21 totals over 60 games. Again, much like the Coyotes, Galchenyuk’s fall from grace over the past few seasons has been well documented and discussed but even still, I have to wonder how the heck we even got here in the first place.

Going into the 2022 NHL Draft, the Canadiens have the first overall pick where they will likely take Kingston Frontenacs star Shane Wright. Yet soon to be exactly 10 years ago to this day, the Canadiens called Galchenyuk’s name with their top pick, taking him third overall in the 2012 Draft. At that time, the Milwaukee born yet Russian native Galchenyuk was seen as a top offensive option with a lethal shot and premiere stickhandling ability. The son of a former IHL regular in his dad Alexander, Galchenyuk was seen as an opportunity to breath new life into a Canadiens team that had struggled in 2011-12 with little but Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty.

After a solid, if unremarkable rookie season in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Galchenyuk quickly became a regular offensive contributor for the Canadiens with four consecutive 40-point seasons, including highs of 30-26-56 totals over 82 games in the 2015-16 season. Unfortunately, however, those numbers had a big asterisk attached to them, as Galchenyuk posted a team worst -31 rating in the 2017-18 season, and never seemed to be able to progress beyond more than just a solid second line center and at times winger.

With Montreal looking to rebrand and retool going into the 2018-19 season, Galchenyuk ultimately found himself on his way out, being shipped to the Coyotes in exchange for similarly struggling first rounder Max Domi, and the rest is well, history. Unfortunately, it’s not very positive, good, or marginally productive history, well at least on the Coyotes side. While Domi ultimately also found his way out of Montreal in spite of a ridiculous 72-point clip in 2018-19 (one he’s never been able to escape since) the Canadiens got Josh Anderson in return who’s been a solid contributor and clutch playoff performer.

After a rocky 2021-22 season, it seems as though Alex Galchenyuk’s first round beginnings with the Montreal Canadiens are nothing but a distant memory.

As for Galchenyuk, he’s been the exact definition of a playing card, and not one that’s dealt from hand to hand during a game, no the kind that gets blown by the wind out of a window leaving you to blindly chase after it to no avail. From the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the Minnesota Wild, to the Carolina Hurricanes, to the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Ottawa Senators and now, back to the Coyotes, Galchenyuk has been anywhere and everywhere that isn’t somewhere where he’s actually been productive.

After continuing to post mediocre 19-21-41 totals in his first season in Arizona, Galchenyuk was shipped to Pittsburgh for star forward Phil Kessel, and things only snowballed from there. Going into the 2020-21 season, he was fresh off an unimpressive cup of coffee with the Wild and saw nothing but a one-year deal with the Senators, which he tanked before being shipped to Carolina, then Toronto, and now back to Arizona.

I had already documented Galchenyuk’s journey previously when he arrived in Toronto, and it seemed for a brief moment like he had rediscovered himself somewhat. That was until he blindly turned the puck over to Cole Caufield in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs and well that was the end of that. The Leafs did offer Galchenyuk a six-figure extension, but he turned it down to look for something better (i.e., a league minimum deal with the Yotes, good choice there). So, now that we know how we got here, the question remains, where does Galchenyuk go from here? Well, in my mind, the answer is nowhere really.

Every year it seems as though Galchenyuk gets another second chance with whatever rebuilding or youthful team is willing to give him one, but at this point, I think he’s run out of those very same chances. Galchenyuk has proven he has the talent to be a solid contributor at the NHL level, but unfortunately, I just don’t think he has what it takes to be able to put it all together anymore, and with the amount of mediocre if not downright bad performances he’s put together over these past few seasons, I think another second chance would be a disservice to any similar players looking for that same opportunity.

Galchenyuk’s NHL career seems to be all but over now, and while he could pursue a career overseas, his less-than-ideal track record and reputation both on and off the ice in the NHL could lead to some higher-level European leagues (such as the Swiss League and the SM-Liiga) having second thoughts, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets some Czech or Austrian offers a la Nikita Scherbak. While he started catching up a bit offensively towards the second half of this past season, the first basically rendered all of that moot, and unfortunately, it seems as though the same can be said for Galchenyuk’s NHL career.

In the end, Galchenyuk will ultimately go down as nothing more than another whiffed draft pick by the Canadiens who never turned into anything more beyond that one 30-goal season. So, as we look towards the 2022 NHL Draft, and the chance for Montreal Canadiens to select a potentially franchise shaping player first overall, there are similarly the numerous Alex Galchenyuk’s of the hockey world who simply, didn’t pan out.

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