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Looking Ahead (and a Little Bit Back): Brendan Gallagher

July 15, 2019, 12:59 PM ET [241 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
While many Canadiens' players had a career year, Brendan Gallagher registered 52 points, two short of his highest total established in the previous season. However, he had his best goal scoring season finding the back of the net 33 times, 2 more times than his previous total. It's undeniable that his point contribution is important to the CH but it will never be as important as the heart he puts in his play. At 5 ft 9 in, he is far from being a giant and yet he plays like one. Never afraid of battling in front of the net, he gets more than his fair share of goals through pure effort and he shows the same kind of effort when he skates to the boards to pick up the puck in the corner. The man is fearless, even when it comes to blocking shots...You would think that breaking your hand while doing just that would put the fear of god into him but it didn't.

The only year were Gallagher seemed to be a bit lost was in 2016-2017 when Andrew Shaw joined the Habs. Perhaps he felt like another guy was playing his style of play and wondered what was now his role... Since then though, it became apparent that the two could definitely play on the same team and Gally found his rhythm again. Last year, Gallagher spent most of his time on the most stable line on the team alongside Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault and there's no reason to think that this situation will change any time soon. In fact, Andrew Shaw's trade even stabilizes number 11's position in the line-up. Not only is he the most offensive right winger on the team by a large margin but should a youngster be ready to make the team out of training camp, chances are that he will not be given too much ice-time, at least not this season.

I know that Dailyfaceoff.com is far from being a perfectly accurate website, but I've heard a lot of people discussing the possibility that Nick Suzuki could not only make the line-up this season but also be put to the right wing. To be honest, I strongly believe that he could use a bit of seasoning in the AHL but the Shaw trade might mean that he comes straight in since the Habs now clearly lack depth on the right. Even if he does though, there is absolutely no way that he can take Gallagher's spot on the top line. While Suzuki is all about the skills, he could never do the kind of work that Gallagher accomplishes. He might be a couple of inches taller but that's not going to be reflected on the ice, especially not in his rookie season. The biggest optimists among you might say that perhaps Cole Caufield could also make the team. He is after all not only a right wing but also a pure goal scorer, something the Habs definitely do not have an abundance of. To me though, it seems impossible that Caufield could make the jump. I mean he was impressive at the development camp yes, but that was playing against guys his own age and a couple of years older. I really do not see the Canadiens rushing with him. After all, they had to be patient with Ryan Poehling and the early indications are that the strategy will pay off.

Regardless of who makes the roster out of training camp, I strongly believe that Gallagher's role as the top right winger is secure. I'm not saying it will be for years and years to come but right now, the assignment is his. With two seasons left on his contract at $3.75 M, he is a bargain but come the end of the 2020-21 season, the diminutive winger will surely be looking for a pay rise. I don't think anyone can blame him for that either considering the steady contribution he provides.

Considering the Canadiens' struggles on the power play last season, I would like to see Kirk Muller use him more with the man advantage. Through 7 seasons, he's got 291 points 58 of which are power play points. He may not be a superstar in the NHL, he may not be seen as an overly talented guy but he gets the job done and that is definitely what the man-advantage unit has to do...looking at you Kirk Muller, don't let us down again.

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