Mark Bergevin finally traded his goal-scoring left winger. Mind you it was not the one most were expecting would be dealt, as Max Pacioretty is still the team’s captain.
Tonight the Montreal Canadiens dealt 24-year-old Alex Galcehnyuk to the Arizona Coyotes for 23-year-old Max Domi in a one-for-one swap.
“Both needed a change of scenery,” said one NHL scout when contacted about the deal. “Domi is a great kid, so hopefully flourishes in Montreal.”
A 5-10, 195-pound left winger drafted 12th overall by Arizona in 2013, Domi in 222 games over three NHL seasons has averaged 0.6 ppg scoring 36 goals and 135 points.
He should find new life,” added the scout. “He has a lot of things to offer. He needs to get his two-way game in order, but he’s smart and level-headed so should fit in nicely.”
While the scout didn’t come right and say that Galchenyuk isn’t level-headed, certainly that is one aspect of the trade where the Canadiens will presumably have made an upgrade.
A player that once drafted third overall fans expected to become the franchise’s long-awaited genuine first-line center, Galchenyuk never found a steady role in the middle as the club never could trust his defensive play long enough to let him develop as a pivot.
In 2016-17 it was publicly stated by two head coaches and the GM that he would never become the center the club had hoped he would become, and following a much-publicized off-ice incident that only exacerbated the club’s concerns, it was no secret that he was shopped around the league last summer.
A 6-1 left winger drafted third overall by Montreal in 2012, Galchenyuk in 418 NHL games over six seasons has also averaged 0.6 ppg, having scored 108 goals and 255 points.
The obvious difference between the two has been in goal scoring Galchenyuk has had three seasons with at least 19 goals, including a 30-goal campaign at the age of 21.
Domi’s high in goals was also at 21 when as an NHL rookie he scored 16 goals. In his last two seasons, he only scored nine in each campaign.
“He needs to get his production hat back on track,” said the scout. “Domi should be much better than his goal totals have been the last two seasons.”
After a solid junior career in London where he scored 30+ goals his last three season and 102 points in his final year, Domi had a terrific NHL rookie season, scoring 18 goals and 52 points and finishing sixth in Calder Trophy voting behind such luminaries as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
Arizona has been on a downward spiral, however, and Domi had some struggles the past two seasons as the losing continued.
“He was used to the winning atmosphere in London,” noted another scout. “I think the change of scenery will do him good. I have always liked Domi. He can be a consistent 20-goal scorer in the NHL. I think you’ll see his goal totals go up.”
There are certainly some contrasts in the two player’s game. Galchenyuk relies on superior puck skills, a long reach, and a blazing one-timer to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself. While by no means a poor passer, he likes to try to beat defenders one-on-one when at times the give-and-go is both the easier and smarter play.
At 6-1 he has gotten more competitive as time has gone along, especially this past season when there was a noticeable improvement in his work ethic, but Galcehnyuk has certainly never been considered an overly competitive or gritty player.
Domi is shorter at 5-10, but like his father is built like a fire hydrant, and spunky. He relies on a powerful skating stride and his strength to power past defender rather than trying to dangle them to the inside like Galchenyuk, and is better at finding teammates for scoring opportunities as his impressive assist totals in all three seasons would attest, having almost averaged an assist every two games. He’s also not afraid to drop his gloves and would be considered to have a more competitive streak than Galchenyuk.
Criticized in his last two one-for-one deals for trading the younger player…in this deal, Bergevin gained a year in the youth department. The Habs will also save money as Galchenyuk is in his second year of a three-year contract worth $4.9M per season, and Domi having just finished his ELC contract with a nine-goal campaign won’t be signing a deal in the 5-million dollar range at this point.