As free agency rolls along, the pool is getting thinner for the New Jersey Devils. Certain teams are looking to fill those last holes and are going to have to make decisions soon. One of the players still available is forward Alex Galchenyuk.
Galchenyuk had a very strong start to his career. Being drafted third overall by the Montreal Canadiens, one spot after newly acquired Devil Ryan Murray, he set himself upon the top six rather quickly for a young player and looked to be a sure bet to stay in that role for a long time. He scored 20 goals in 2014-15 and then a very impressive 30 goals the next season.
While that was by all impressions a one-off season, Galchenyuk has not fallen off a cliff in production like people seem to believe. In his last three seasons, he has managed goal totals of 19, 19, and 8 in this shortened season. Both of the full seasons’ totals would have landed Galchenyuk third and fourth on the Devils roster, an obvious upgrade.
His points totals aren’t bad either with 51, 41, and 24 this terrible season. Things did not mesh well for Galchenyuk in Pittsburgh or on a bad Minnesota Wild team, so there is some optimism that he could return to the form of a half-point-per-game player, which is a very solid NHLer. One bad season can not be used to completely discount how effective someone can be and is a great time to take a low-risk shot at a player.
At only 26 years old, his game is developed but he will not be slowing down due to age anytime soon so he would fit the window if all things went well for the Devils.
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There doesn’t seem to be a long line for his services, but Tom Fitzgerald should be inquiring on Galchenyuk to fill a roster spot in New Jersey this season. The Devils have a lot of young players who would normally be battling hard for spots but with a possible shortened season, European players who aren’t guaranteed roster spots likely to stay overseas, and the team not pushing for the playoffs it might not be the best plan to bring someone up who is not 100% ready.
Galchenyuk could fill a spot on the wing for a year easily and has the skill to play with whomever on the top nine so that the Devils are not forced to sign a veteran who can’t skate like Simmonds or a career AHL player who will just hurt the line. The Devils are trying to develop a skilled lineup that competes and tossing him with people like Bratt, Zacha or even Hughes is a far better option than most out there right now.
The Devils should offer a short term contract, 1-2 years and around $3.5-4 million a year. This keeps them out of any future trouble if it did go bad and makes it easy to move at the deadline even if he did either not work out here, or if he had a strong season again and was garnering attention from other teams. Free assets no matter how small can make a big deal later on if you can land a good player in the draft. If he develops chemistry with one of our long term pieces then the Devils managed to fill a hole in the current roster for even longer. This would be a no-loss situation for the Devils and a move that if Galchenyuk is interested in they should be all over.