Montreal Canadiens 2023-24 Season-In-Review: Brendan Gallagher

Brendan Gallagher finally stayed healthy for the first time since 2018-19, but his point production was a bit of a disappointment.
Montreal Canadiens Brendan Gallagher
Montreal Canadiens Brendan Gallagher / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Brendan Gallagher had his healthiest season since 2018-19, appearing in 77 games for the Montreal Canadiens. Gallagher was the victim of some injury-riddled seasons, playing in just 187 games over the last four seasons. Gallagher could've played 82 games if he hadn't been suspended for five games after a headshot against the New York Islanders. Gallagher will never be a big point producer, but his 31 points in 77 games this year was an acceptable production level for the 32-year-old. 2024-25 will be the fourth of a six-year, $39 million contract that Gallagher signed before the 2021-22 season. The Canadiens hope he can remain healthy for the final three years to maximize the value.

The problem for Gallagher is he may never live up to the contract that Mark Bergevin gave him back then. Bergevin rewarded him for his years of service, as Gallagher's been a mainstay in the lineup since 2012-13. That doesn't mean many fans were happy with the deal. Gallagher must increase his production to avoid this contract being a massive overpay. Gallagher's leadership qualities with the Canadiens' young core are considered invaluable, and the Habs have plenty of cap room, which lessens the impact. 

Brendan Gallagher's 2023-24 Performance

Brendan Gallagher's lasting highlight during the season could be his goal in the second-last game when he scored on a beautiful play from Lane Hutson for his first career point. It will be the only goal remembered this season for Gallagher, but April's play should get some recognition. Before April, Gallagher's highest-scoring month was November, tallying six points in 15 games. Gallagher was red hot in April, recording ten points in nine games. 

Gallagher showed glimpses of his past with his performance at the end of the season. He had three multi-point games in his last five, which gives hope that he could use it as fuel this offseason to come out strong in 2024-25. Gallagher will remain a critical part of the team if he can replicate that success for 82 games, but his injury history and age make that unlikely.

Gallagher averaged just 13:47 time on ice per game in 2023-24, so he will likely finish his Canadiens' days on the third and fourth line. The only thing Canadiens fans can hope for is that he maintains that scoring touch and adds some valuable depth scoring when they begin contending in the Atlantic Division. 31 points in 77 games isn't good for a player making $6.5 million per year, but if you look past the salary, it is good numbers for a depth player in the bottom six.

Gallagher touched on his contract and value to the team in a piece from Stu Cowan at The Montreal Gazette.

""For me, I’m of the belief that I’ve earned every dollar I’ve made by trying to give everything I’ve had to this team every day I’m at the rink. That’s, I guess, how I would justify it. For me, I’ve never looked at teammates and salaries for what they make. I look at what they bring to our group in commitment and being a good teammate and I just try to be that for the guys. I try to be a guy that’s going to show up at the rink that they can count on every night.”"

Brendan Gallagher

Brendan Gallgher's Future

The Canadiens hope to be a contender before Gallagher's contract ends in 2027-28. Can the Canadiens ice a contending team with Brendan Gallagher making $6.5 million? I would say no with the league's current salary cap, but it should rise over the next few years. Gallagher owns a six-team no-trade clause, so the Habs could opt to move his contract. They will undoubtedly have to retain as much as possible to get the deal done, but in a salary cap world, that $3.25 million can open up some opportunities.

You can enjoy the memories, like the one above when thinking about Brendan Gallagher. He may not be the same player, but the memories he gave the Habs during his career will last a lifetime. It would undoubtedly be a sad day when Gallagher leaves the Habs, as he is the organization's longest-tenured member. However, sometimes hard decisions have to be made to prepare a team for Stanley Cup contention, and this is one of them.