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Q&A with Eyes on the Prize regarding Alex Galchenyuk

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General Manager John Chayka made the first big move of the offseason by trading Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk. We take a look at the newest member of the Coyotes.

Montreal Canadiens v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With the Coyotes making a one-for-one trade of Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk we teamed up with Andrew Zardarnowski from Eyes on the Prize to dig deeper into the players.

1: What do you like about Galchenyuk?

Alex Galchenyuk was an exciting centre prospect when he was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens third overall in 2012, and represented a renewed hope after a sharp decline in the team’s performance under Pierre Gauthier. Galchenyuk also marked Marc Bergevin’s ascent to general manager of the Canadiens, and was meant to add a high first round pick to solid core of players that Bergevin inherited from the previous GM.

In his rookie season he showed flashes of offensive creativity, a skill level not seen on the team since Sergei Kostitsyn on the nights he decided to show up. As he developed from rookie to veteran he was always a player who could change the game at any given time with a quick deke, a precise wrister, or momentum shifting move that excited the crowd.

2: What did you not like about Galchenyk?

For all the talent he had, he never seemed to regularly and consistently put it all together. It was frustrating. He would have games where he appeared invisible entirely.

Beyond the on-ice irregularity there were numerous off-ice stories that were floating around, ranging from his active party lifestyle, to an overbearing relationship with his family. Once a year it was inevitable to get some sort of off-ice story come out that Montreal would of course blow out of proportion and require potential intervention from the general manager. Never a good situation in the highly conservative league in its most conservative market.

3: How as Galchenyk deployed?

Deployment was the prime argument between management and the fanbase regarding Galchenyuk. When he started, he was on wing, explained that it was best for him to gradually grow into the centreman role. But season after season he kept being shunted aside for other players in the role because of his lack of experience at centre; a self-fulfilling prophecy for Galchenyuk.

Eventually Michel Therrien put him at centre at the start of the 2016-17 season with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher on the top line, as it was successful, but hit a new level when Alex Radulov was put there. It appeared as though Galchenyuk finally attained that potential that all fans were waiting for since his draft. A knee injury in December, causing him to miss almost 20 games, permanently derailed him.

By the end of the season, and under a new coach, Galchenyuk was on the third line and ultimately fourth line in the playoffs.

4: What’s a memorable Galchenyk moment?

The moment that always sticks with me was Galchenyuk’s first NHL point on Brendan Gallagher’s first NHL goal on New Jersey Devils legend Martin Brodeur. The goal was fast, exciting, and precise. For the first time in years there was a sense of hope around the team with a core comprised of PK Subban, Max Pacioretty, and Carey Price joined by Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. 2012-13 was a time of optimism, with the 2013-14 playoffs giving us a thrilling ride to the semi-finals where an injury to Price caused a collapse of the team, from which I feel they have never recovered from.

5: Why do you think Galchenyk was traded?

I think it came down to an incompatibility with Claude Julien, who never gave Galchenyuk much of a leash at all from the moment he replaced Michel Therrien as head coach. Whereas Therrien eventually relented and allowed Glachenyuk to play centre, Julien was quick to punish the forward, dropping him down to the fourth line wing during the playoffs. As soon as that happened it was clear that Galchenyuk’s time was running out in Montreal. Bergevin did little to quell the problem, ensuring that he always took his coaches side and declaring that Galchenyuk was just not a centre, diminishing whatever value the forward had. Ultimately it was unfortunate that a player with such potential ran his course in Montreal.

6: Who won the trade?

In the short-term it really has the feeling that Arizona won the trade because of Galchenyuk’s offensive high-end potential. If he were ever to achieve his potential and put together a solid game, night in, night out, the Coyotes have themselves an incredibly talented forward.

Max Domi’s playmaking ability is certainly a welcome addition to the Canadiens, and might help captain Max Pacioretty find his scoring touch from the right faceoff circle where he was previously lethal with Alex Radulov and David Desharnais feeding him passes. The problem lies in the fact that the Canadiens remain goal-starved and Domi doesn’t address that problem, and in fact the subtraction of Galchenyuk exacerbates the issue. Galchenyuk will definitely benefit from the new start in Phoenix, and hopefully, having matured enough to realize the opportunity he has with a new team will blossom and achieve his potential.

Domi has the pedigree that Bergevin definitely looks for in his players, having identified “attitude” as the main problem for the team this past season. It certainly appears as he tried to address both ‘bad’ and ‘good’ with this trade.

Check out what we had to say about Max Domi at Eyes on the Prize.