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The Case Against Signing Alex Galchenyuk

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In the last post on this series about who Tom Fitzgerald should avoid signing this upcoming free agency, today I will discuss forward Alex Galchenyuk.

Arizona Coyotes v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Today here at All About the Jersey, I will look at one more potential unrestricted free agent that the New Jersey Devils should avoid signing in the offseason. This time, we are looking at the recently well-traveled Alex Galchenyuk.

Most of you might still think of Galchenyuk mainly from his time in Montreal. He did, after all, spend six seasons up there after being drafted third overall by them in the 2012 draft. However, he has since become the trade bait of choice, being traded three times in the last two seasons. Yes, since the close of the 2017-18 season, he has played on three different teams, none of them being Montreal. Let’s take a quick look at those deals, thanks to Cap Friendly:

  1. In the 2018 offseason, Montreal dealt him to Arizona straight up for Max Domi. This freed up some cap room for Montreal, and also gave them a first round talent in return with Domi. Arizona got 41 points in 72 games out of Alex in the 2018-19 season before trading him.
  2. In the 2019 offseason, Arizona dealt him to Pittsburgh for essentially Phil Kessel and a 4th rounder. One minor prospect went in each direction as well. Galchenyuk played a little over half the regular season for Pitt, producing 17 points in 45 games.
  3. In a blockbuster mid-season move before covid, Pittsburgh traded him, a 2021 first round pick and a prospect to Minnesota for Jason Zucker. Alex played in 14 games for Minnesota, including during this postseason, and posted 7 points.

Throughout that long journey right there, Galchenyuk has played under a 3-year deal initially signed with Montreal that pays him $4.9 million per year. Despite already playing in the NHL for 8 seasons, he will only be 26 years old this offseason. So, why should the Devils avoid him?

He Will Command Too Much Money

Now, I realize this is not a major issue for the Devils at the moment. The team is lush with cap space. If GM Tom Fitzgerald wants to go out and make a big splash in free agency and dole out some big contracts, he has the cap space to do it.

However, just because the space is there, it does not mean he should use it immediately. This is like spending cash because it burns a hole in your pocket just sitting there. And this is especially true for Alex Galchenyuk. Being only 26 years old, and having the experience that he does in the NHL, already having played well over 500 NHL games, he will command a fairly big contract. He had some decent point-producing seasons in Montreal as well, with quality numbers in his final three seasons there, especially in 2016-17 when he had 44 points in 61 games. He did not do particularly well in Pittsburgh this season, but he can claim that moving around so much over the last two seasons has been difficult, and he showed that with consistency in Montreal, his numbers were improving, and this could happen again with a long term deal somewhere.

That is something the Devils should shy away from. He just made $4.9 million a year over the last three years, and while his play over the last two seasons does not really dictate he make more, he will still command over $4 mil a year given his age and experience. He might get well more than that too if multiple teams want him. For someone that has never really lived up to his 3rd overall pick hype, this is a bad contract to give out. I don’t want to give that kind of money to someone who looks to give my team a half point per game, and who really is not a top line guy. And this leads me into my next argument…

He Would Not Be a Great Fit Here

Given his production since entering the league, and since we clearly know what he is and is not capable of after 500+ games, I think it is pretty clear that he would probably do better as a middle 6 forward, where he can play against lesser competition and not have as major of a role. He might be able to find that somewhere, but in New Jersey, where the forward corps is not particularly deep at the moment, it would be a bad fit. Alex needs to go somewhere where the depth is already strong, and where the top line is solidified without him. There, he could slide into a 2nd or 3rd line role alongside some talented players that would help to raise his game. In a scenario like that, a team might be able to draw more out of him, get him scoring consistently more than a half point per game, and find value in his next big contract.

This would not be the case in New Jersey at this time. First, the top line itself is not solidified at this point in time. You have Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri who are top line locks, but there is no left winger who has definitively grabbed that last spot after the departure of Taylor Hall. Then beyond that, the depth is not as strong as anyone would like it to be yet. Galchenyuk would succeed when lined up with quality veterans who could enhance his game. I am not sure he is finding that in NJ. You want to put him with Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt? Or Jack Hughes and Nikita Gusev? Some of those guys might turn into stars, Hughes especially, but at this point in time, I am not sure that situation works for either Galchenyuk or the Devils players. Yes, Hughes would do better with him than with, say, Miles Wood, but for the price the team would need to sign Alex to bring him here, it isn’t worth it, and the fit is not ideal.

His Production is Not Worth It

I have mentioned this multiple times now, but I think it needs its own small section. For what he will be paid, Galchenyuk is not producing well enough. I have gone into his points already, where apart from a few seasons there in Montreal, he has not really done much more than produce a half point per game max. This is definitely underwhelming coming from a former 3rd overall pick who has significant NHL experience given his young age. Plus, his possession game is not good either. Take a look at the chart from Sean Tierney:

His name is not next to his icon, but I tried to highlight it there. It is directly on the x-axis just above Mats Zuccarello and below Joel Eriksson Ek. That is not a very good spot to be. He isn’t Luke Kunin bad, but again, for someone making $4.9 million and most likely looking for a similar AAV this offseason, hovering between dull and bad is not going to cut it. His Corsi Against per 60 is particularly poor, sitting at 55.2. For those thinking that he would raise the game of people like Hughes or Bratt or Gusev, this might say otherwise.

Conclusion

While I could go further, I think this is more than enough to solidify the fact that when free agency comes around this year, Fitzgerald should avoid signing Alex Galchenyuk. I have nothing against him personally, and I hope he performs well in his next contract, assuming that contract puts him outside of the Metropolitan Division. I just don’t think he is a good fit for the Devils, and given his production to this point, I think he will be overpaid at the start, and probably throughout the next deal he signs. The one major thing going for him is age, coupled with his experience, but middling production should not cost what it will to get him, regardless of age or experience. There will be better options out there, and in the end, I hope Galchenyuk is not wearing the red and black next season.

Those are my thoughts, however. What do you think? Assuming he does come on the market this upcoming free agency, do you want NJ to sign him? Why or why not? Do you agree with my reasoning as to why he should not be brought here? What other reasons are there to not bring him on? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading!