Agent: Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk open to one-year deal, arbitration

Alex Galchenyuk is sick of answering the same question about starting the year as top line centre, and finishing the year bottom six forward, and says he’s focused on improving all parts of his game.

Pending restricted free agent Alex Galchenyuk is willing to sign a one-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens, according to reports.

Agent Pat Brisson spoke with La Presse in French about contract talks regarding his client, Galchenyuk, and the Canadiens.

“We haven’t had talks yet, but I have the impression that they could start over the next week,” Brisson said, translated into English. “There’s a bit of a lull after the combine and before the draft, but it’s worth mentioning that teams aren’t making many moves because of the expansion draft.

“After the draft, that’s when the real action will really pick up.”

Galchenyuk had a drop in goal production in 2016-17, finding the back of the net 17 times after hitting the 30-goal mark in the previous season. He did, however, miss 21 games and actually improved his points-per-game average.

He still finished third on the team with 44 points, and fifth in goals. The Canadiens have shuffled the 23-year-old forward up and down the lineup, and in and out of his natural centre position.

General manager Marc Bergevin indicated that he would like to acquire a No. 1 centre in his off-season briefings, and a young offensive talent like Galchenyuk could be used as a trade chip in order to accomplish that goal.

Brisson said he’s open to a variety of options for a new deal for his client, both long term and not.

“We’re also not saying no to signing a one-year contract,” he said. “We will look at Alex’s body of work and look at what he could be worth in arbitration.”

Should the Galchenyuk camp elect arbitration, the young centre could be “stuck” on a two-year deal at below market value. NHL rules dictate that the party which opts for the arbitration process loses control over whether the salary determined in the final ruling can be applied to a one- or two-year deal.

That possibility doesn’t faze Brisson.

“Alex is two years away from unrestricted free agency and it’s very rare that a team signs a deal that would bring a player right to unrestricted free agency,” he said. “(Usually), the team will sign for one year, or try to find a long-term deal that buys up years of free agency.”

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