Alex Galchenyuk has bounced around the NHL in recent years but he should stick around with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.
Galchenyuk started the year with the Ottawa Senators, but struggled to really get going – registering just a single goal in his eight appearances in the Canadian capital.
This led to him being sent to the Hurricanes, packaged in a deal alongside Cédric Paquette in exchange for Ryan Dzingel. While his former Senators teammate would go on to make 38 appearances for the Hurricanes, Galchenyuk’s future with the team appeared bleak.
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The Maple Leafs felt that the former Montreal Canadiens goalscorer still had plenty to offer at the NHL level and managed to acquire him in exchange for Yegor Korshkov and David Warsofsky, a bargain in hindsight.
Galchenyuk spent some time working with the Leafs’ development coaches, trying to refine his skills and give him an opportunity to get back to being close to the player he was when he initially entered the league in 2012.
A stint with the Toronto Marlies helped Galchenyuk find his offensive touch and regain some confidence, with eight points (two goals, six assists) in just six games before the Leafs recalled him to the big leagues.
He subsequently played 26 times for Toronto, scoring four goals and adding a further eight assists – not superb numbers, but certainly stronger than much of his time since leaving the Arizona Coyotes in 2019.
In the playoffs, Galchenyuk even contributed a goal and four total points in the six games he featured in – tying his career-high in total points in a single post-season.
With the Leafs needing to keep salaries low next season, which will likely see Zach Hyman move on the pastures new, there could be a real opportunity for Galchenyuk to return and continue the positive work he began with the team.
Due to his skillset, Galchenyuk is best played in a top-six role alongside either John Tavares or Auston Matthews, where he can be a contributor in front of goal and provide the team with some of the offence they were missing against the Canadiens.
He may not find the market overly interested in his services after a significant dip in his production, so the Maple Leafs may be the ideal landing spot for him – assuming he is willing to accept another deal in the $1 million range, as his 2021 salary was.
Keeping Galchenyuk around would give the Leafs some continuity on their roster, but also potentially see them benefit from continued development of his game and a return to confidence while working under familiar, and positive, circumstances.
Seeing both parties reunited next season would be mutually beneficial, with the Leafs able to keep a talented offensive player around for cheap while seeing Galchenyuk continue his path back to the near 20-goal-a-season player he has been throughout his career.
It’s not often that a player with the potential to contribute up to 20 goals in a single season is available at such a low cost on the open market, and with Galchenyuk having already played half a shortened season for the Leafs, it gives him a head start on the 2021/22 campaign.