Alex Galchenyuk is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer when his two-year, $5.6 million bridge deal expires.
For a variety of reasons, the 23-year-old forward has been the subject of trade speculation recently and the topic was broached during NHL Insider Bob McKenzie’s Friday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690.
“Well, I don’t think the Montreal Canadiens are waking up in the morning saying, ‘This is the day we’ve got to get rid of Alex Galchenyuk.’ But it’s just a natural function of a couple of things,” explained McKenzie. “No. 1, we heard Marc Bergevin talk about what he won’t do. What he won’t do is he won’t trade Sergachev. My guess is unless it’s a really good deal, he doesn’t want to trade Mike McCarron. So he will not mortgage the future for immediate help. And that’s certainly true in the case of Hanzal, who is a rental player.”
“So if he won’t trade those guys, then how’s he going to facilitate a trade? So then you start looking at will he trade a core player. Well, people would rightly argue that, ‘Wait a second here. You need a center on the Montreal Canadiens. If you trade Galchenyuk, you’re creating – even if you get a center back – you’re no further ahead than you were.’
“But here’s the thing. The reality is that Alex Galchenuk’s contract is up at the end of this year. And he’s ending a two-year bridge deal with I think a $2.8 million cap hit. Alex Galchenyuk is going to want to get paid, and we’re at the stage of his career now where it’s time for Alex Galchenyuk and the Montreal Canadiens to walk down the aisle and make a long-term commitment – you would think. That would be the norm after the guy has done his entry-level and he’s done his bridge deal. Now it’s time, as a core, young piece on this team, where the expectation on the outside would be Galchenyuk is going to get a six or a seven or an eight-year deal.
“And anytime a team has a young player like that, they either have unrequited love for that player and boom, it’ll get done no problem. Or just a simple pause to consider, ‘How much do I love this player? How much do I really want to spend the next seven or eight years of our lives together?’
“And that is really all we’re probably we’re surmising, and anybody is surmising when they talk about Galchenyuk. I’m sure there are teams – when they see Galchenyuk’s minutes, I’m sure when they see Galchenyuk sometimes plays center and sometimes plays wing – when they call the Montreal Canadiens to talk, they’re going to bring his name up. And my take on Marc Bergevin as the general manager is if you bring up somebody’s name, he’s more than likely going to say, ‘Okay, let’s talk about it. I’m not guaranteeing we’re going to do it.’ That’s how P.K. Subban started, and that’s how P.K. Subban ended.
“So I’m not sitting here telling you that I think Galchenyuk will be traded. The notion that Galchenyuk would get traded in my mind between now and the deadline – is it possible? I suppose so. Am I expecting it? Probably not. But just the notion of talking about Galchenyuk’s long-term future – what’s he going to command? When I say how much in love are they with him, are they $7 million in love with him? Because I’m not sure with arbitration what number he’s going to be looking at. I’m not sure what universe exactly he should be in.
“But I can tell you this – basically every guy coming out of that situation is going to be looking for more than $6 million a year on a long-term deal, at least I would think. And that’s where teams have to start making some hard decisions on whether they think that’s good value, or might he fetch a price on the open market that would be better value.
“So those are just all of the permutations. For anybody who’s writing down what I’m saying now to post later on the internet, let’s just make sure we’re clear about what I said there.”
Always, Bob. Always. Your words are quoted accurately and in context in this space.
So does the Galchenyuk situation reminded McKenzie of the Subban storyline?
“I think it’s a different dynamic, to a large degree,” said McKenzie. “But hey, listen. As I said – if you’re asking me if I absolutely think that Alex Galchenyuk is an untouchable on the Montreal Canadiens, I would say no, I don’t think he is. If you’re asking me if I think he’s going to be traded by the deadline, I’d say probably not and quite likely not.
“But I use the line all the time that I allow for all possibilities. And it’s a good thing I do because as I said… the Subban situation was different. I did sense the entire time, even after Marc Bergevin went public at the draft in Buffalo and tried to put water on that one, I continued to say, ‘Listen, this is an option for them and we shouldn’t shut the door on this one.’
“I understand people’s reaction when they hear the Subban stuff or the Galchenyuk stuff. And you’ve got to make sure in this business that you don’t confuse what you want to happen or what you think should happen with what might happen. And by that I simply mean there were many people who were abhorred at the thought of P.K. being traded and would be abhorred at the thought of the Montreal Canadiens even talking about the notion of trading Alex Galchenyuk.
“And I understand that. Everybody has got their views. Everybody likes players and thinks they’ve got the theory as to how the Montreal Canadiens should be constructed, and how Marc Bergevin should go about his job. But sometimes people get so invested in their own belief and their own values of who’s valuable and who’s not and what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense that when somebody presents a notion that, ‘Hey, you’ve got to at least consider the possibility that somebody might think differently than you and would make a move different than you.’ And then you just stick to your value system and you say, ‘Well, this can’t possibly happen because it doesn’t make sense to me.’
“Well, there were a lot of people who thought that way about the P.K. Subban situation, and at the end of the day they looked stupid because they didn’t allow for the possibility that Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens could think differently than they did.
“As I said – I’m not running Alex Galchenyuk out of town. It may well be that when the season is over Pat Brisson and Marc Bergevin, who know each other extremely well, are going to sit down and bang out a deal in no time.
“But I’ve also got to believe that with so many teams talking to the Montreal Canadiens about trades, and Marc Bergevin on record as saying, ‘I’m not mortgaging the future.’ And maybe somebody would interpret that to say Galchenyuk is the future. So maybe at some point Marc Bergevin will come out and say, ‘Yeah, he’s part of the future. I’m not mortgaging that.’
“But he didn’t mention Galchenyuk on Julien day, he mentioned Sergachev. So that’s why you just allow for the possibility, but don’t make it out to be more than what it is.”
The Bergevin quote to which McKenzie is alluded several times here was this, via Sportsnet’s Eric Engels:
“The idea of giving a young player like Sergachev for a fix won’t happen,” Bergevin said in French. “I’ll always look to make the team better but if the price is a young guy who can have an impact for 10-15 years, I won’t do it. Don’t expect a big trade like that. It’s not going to happen. But if the price drops and something is reasonable for the organization in the short and long term, I’ll try. If the price doesn’t drop, nothing like that will happen.”
On the McCarron front, Elliotte Friedman recently reported that Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka’s ask from the Canadiens for Hanzal, who will be an unrestricted agent this summer, was McCarron, a first-rounder, and another conditional pick.
For reference: Covering the Insiders