MONTREAL — It took a while, but Alex Galchenyuk is glad to have his contract settled with the Montreal Canadiens.
The 21-year-old, a restricted free agent who agreed to a two-year "bridge" deal worth US$2.8 million per season this week, should be the last piece of major off-season business for general manager Marc Bergevin.
Galchenyuk said on a conference call Friday that the delay came from changing his agent — from Igor Larionov to Pat Brisson — and taking a three-week holiday in Russia with his family.
"I don’t think it took that long, it’s not even August yet," said Galchenyuk. "Since I came back, I talked to Pat and it ended up pretty quickly."
The Canadiens prefer to have their top young players sign two-year bridge deals after their entry level contracts.
Galchenyuk said that was what he asked for and his agent agreed. Goalie Carey Price and defenceman P.K. Subban each turned strong play during their bridge contracts into lucrative long-term deals.
"It’s as simple as going out on the ice and proving myself and helping the team and seeing what happens in two years," he said.
He would not say what moved him to change agents, saying it was confidential.
"I make my own decisions hockey-wise, that’s all I can comment on," he said.
Much has been expected of the gifted forward who was drafted third overall in 2012. He got better in each of his first three NHL campaigns, including career highs of 20 goals, 26 assists and 46 points last season.
He has 42 goals and 62 assists in 193 regular-season games and four goals and six assists in 22 playoff games.
It remains to be seen if he will evolve into an elite scorer. Galchenyuk is not setting any specific goals.
"I never really think about how many goals or points I’m going to have because you can’t really limit yourself," he said. "I do expect to have a great year. I can’t wait to get started."
And he insists it doesn’t matter whether coach Michel Therrien uses him at centre or on left wing. He has played mostly on the wing in the NHL but some feel he won’t reach his true potential until he moves to the middle.
"Whatever’s better for the team, that’s what I’ll play," he said.
He looks forward to having former Washington and Carolina right winger Alexander Semin as a teammate. He said he met Semin at a kids camp this off-season and then found out he had been signed by the Canadiens. Semin inked a one-year deal.
The Canadiens announced they will close their hall of fame and museum at the Bell Centre as part of major construction and renovations on the site. It will make way for an expanded plaza. Some items in the museum will be returned to donors while others will be displayed in other parts of the rink. The team said admission will be free until the end of August.
The museum on the east side of the arena opened in 2010 and has had more than 200,000 visitors.