It was one of those trades that you knew right away was bad. You saw the two names. Without any hesitation, you knew. You didn’t have to review anything or check statistics or watch a game or two again or make some calls to guys out west….. You knew it in a heartbeat…. “Oh. My. God. It’s a fleecing”.
Alex Galchenyuk with 66 goals in the last three seasons was traded for Max Domi with 36 goals in his last three seasons. What looks worse for the Habs GM is Domi had a good rookie campaign with 18 goals and has regressed to nine goals each of the last two seasons. Add to that, last season he scored only five times with a goalie in the net. He’s got a comparable points per game as Galchenyuk, but he plays the wing and gets assists. He’s a winger who doesn’t score. He has played virtually no center in any part of his career and he is not a center, so the two decade long search continues with one fewer asset in the mix to acquire that center. He’s a winger who got assists on a team that was one of the worst in the NHL and who now moves to a team with the exact same problem. With Galchenyuk gone now and Pacioretty gone soon, last season’s Habs goal total could look lofty compared to next season’s goal total.
One looks for positives, or at least tries to flip the coin over to try to understand what they were thinking. It’s only natural. You can’t imagine that the General Manager could make a one for one trade when one of the players is just so obviously superior to the other player…so far. Galchenyuk was just finally figuring it out too. His attitude in the locker room was exemplary. He was maturing as a player on the ice and more so off it. He has had some off ice problems sure, but let’s not begin to dump on every single player that is traded to let the GM off the hook for bad trades. A ton of NHL players have had an off ice issue or two. They don’t get traded for an inferior return. In fact, mostly they don’t get traded. They get compassion.
This is not a blueprint for success to degrade a player whether it be by not giving him a lot of ice time, or by playing him on the wing, or by intimating that he is a problem child, and then cry when you don’t get a fair return for him that he didn’t check off a lot of boxes when you were the guy who was using the eraser.
There is one way that this trade doesn’t look like a failure and that is age and free agent status. This does not make the trade good or make sense at the moment, but it is the sliver of hope that you must hold on to or you have to assess that the GM can’t assess. The one caveat is Galchenyuk is soon to approach unrestricted free agency and Domi is just finishing his entry level contract (and hey with nine goals, he should come cheap). The likelihood that Galchenyuk was going to stay in Montreal was not high. He could have been traded for a better return likely as he approached that free agency than a 9 goal scorer, but you never know. Now this long and difficult road has been avoided.
The Coyotes management is already saying that they will try Galchenyuk at the center position…. a position that Bergevin was never going to take again with Galchenyuk no matter what. Domi has struggled as an NHLer. He can’t find his way at this level after an outstanding junior career, including a World Junior Championship where he was one of the best players in the entire event. Domi has skills. He could still blossom into a great player. He is 23 years of age and this is the age or even at 24 that a player starts to really figure it out at the NHL level. He was drafted 12th which was low because of his size of only 5 foot 10 inches but size doesn’t mean as much as it used to in the NHL, so he probably would have been top 10 in this modern skating-first NHL.
Those are the types of things that you will hear Saturday at high noon when Marc Bergevin meets the media at the Bell Centre to explain to the fans why he made this move. Fans who almost unanimously right now are perplexed.