Sunday, 17 June 2018

One For One

I feel like Gary Bettman when he announces a trade at the NHL Entry Draft, but, ladies and gentlemen, we have a trade to announce as Montreal packaged up Alexander Galchenyuk and sent him off to the Arizona Coyotes for Max Domi in a straight one-for-one trade. While some will credit the Coyotes for picking up a talented centerman from the Canadiens where he was misused and often deployed as a winger, some are crediting the Canadiens for acquiring another tough-as-nails winger who can score to add to the likes of Gallagher and Shaw. Regardless of what one feels towards this trade, both players needed something to kick-start their careers once again, and this trade might be that catalyst.

My personal feelings on this trade is that it was dead-even for both the Coyotes and Canadiens. Arizona gets a skilled centerman whose usage in Montreal has been questioned since he arrived, and there's a chance for the Coyotes to re-establish Galchenyuk as the skilled, play-making centerman he showed infrequently under Claude Julien. Montreal gets another rugged-but-smallish winger whose tenacity and doggedness on the puck might have been overshadowed by his lack of production last season. In both cases, there's a lot of room for growth in both players.

What the Canadiens didn't need to do was trade away an underperforming, lack-of-confidence centerman as they are extremely thin down the middle when it comes to talent at the center position. Somehow, Galchenyuk needed to find a way out of Claude Julien's perceived doghouse, but he was never really given that chance. This will now put more pressure on the Canadiens' scouting staff as they hold the third-overall pick, and there will be an expectation that the Habs draft a prototypical centerman with that pick who has the potential to step into the lineup next season to fill the hole created by the Galchenyuk trade.

The Canadiens are getting a player who doesn't mind going to the front of the net, and often finds scoring chances from that area. Domi won't back away from playing in the high-traffic areas, and this was one of the weakest parts of the Canadiens' attack last season. He's also far more effective on the power-play than Galchenyuk ever was, and Montreal's 13th-best power-play shuld see an improvement with how Domi attacks the slot area with passes and with drives to the net while on the man-advantage.

The problem, to me, is that if the Canadiens use Domi as a centerman rather as a wing, they're asking for a ton of offensive trouble when it comes to generating offence. Domi, for all he's worth, needs to play alongside playmakers to be successful, and his finishing touch hasn't been anything like it was in junior hockey thus far in his NHL career. With Montreal possibly going with a Jonathan Drouin-Max Domi-Phillip Danault trio down the middle on their top three lines, that trio produces very little in the way of goals and could be the lowest-scoring trio of centerman on any NHL team this year. In other words, if the gamble to generate offence from the wing from Domi doesn't pay off and they move him to the middle, it could be a serious bust year for les bleus-blancs-et-rouges.

At the end of the day, two struggling young players get a chance to shed the tarnish they found in their previous homes with a fresh start in their home countries of origin. Galchenyuk will play center in Arizona, and should give the Coyotes another weapon to deploy behind the likes of Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Montreal will play Domi on the wing from everything being said, and that will help them if they push Domi to look to the middle of the ice more often for drives and passes. Whether or not that will happen will depend upon Claude Julien, but the Canadiens will get some added toughness along the wing if nothing else.

Who wins this trade? I'm going to say it's a wash at this time. The jury, however, is still out.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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