Galchenyuk looking forward to bounce-back season with Canadiens

During the Tim and Sid show news broke the the Montreal Canadiens and Alex Galchenyuk avoided arbitration by signing a three year deal.

MONTREAL — Alex Galchenyuk is looking forward to a bounce-back season with the Montreal Canadiens.

The 23-year-old forward, who struggled with a knee injury last season after breaking out with 30 goals in 2015-16, said on a conference call Thursday that his main aim is to help the Canadiens go farther than their disappointing first-round playoff exit in April.

Galchenyuk avoided arbitration by signing a three-year US$14.7 million contract on Wednesday, which carries a salary cap hit of $4.9 million per season.

"I expect to win," he said. "I know I can bring a lot to the team.

"After a disappointing (playoffs) last season, we want to get to the top. We want to prove people wrong."

Galchenyuk was among 30 NHL players to file for arbitration, but he never doubted that agent Pat Brisson and general manager Marc Bergevin would come to an agreement before it went to hearings. The contract was announced shortly after the arbitration list was released.

He was also pleased with the three-year term, even though many other high-skill players his age sign longer deals. His covers his last two years of eligibility for restricted free agency and one year of unrestricted free agency.

With a shorter deal, Galchenyuk could be in for a much bigger contract if he emerges as an elite, scoring forward in the next three seasons.


Galchenyuk, drafted third overall in 2012, has had an up and down first five years in the NHL. His playing time was carefully managed in his first two seasons before he took a step forward with 20 goals in his third year and another big step with 30 goals the following campaign, only to slip back last season with 17 goals and 44 points in 61 games.

"I think where I’m at in terms of my career now, after playing five years, I thought (a three-year contract) was the right thing to do," he said.

Also, he has yet to establish himself as a top-line centre, a spot the Canadiens need desperately to fill. He has been used mainly on left wing. His preference between wing and centre is perhaps the question he has been asked most since he’s been in the NHL.

"That was part of the negotiations — a clause in my contract is whenever I’m asked the question I can walk away from the scrum now," he joked. "I’ve been asked that so many times.

"I don’t focus on playing centre or wing. We have a great coach who will decide where I play."

He has tried to tune out rumours that he may be traded, saying he is focused on getting in the best shape possible for next season.

"I love the city and the team and playing in Montreal," he said.

The Canadiens also signed goaltender Charlie Lindgren, their last restricted free agent, to a one-year, two-way contract. With Carey Price and backup Al Montoya on NHL deals, Lindgren is expected to play a second season in the AHL, but the U.S.-born goalie appears ready to move up. In three NHL games, he is 3-0-0 with a 1.65 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.

With 22 players signed, the Canadiens have about $9 million in cap space remaining and are likely to make another move before the season.

The fate of veteran defenceman Andrei Markov, a career Canadien who is testing the free agent market, remains unresolved.

So far, Bergevin has added skill up front in Jonathan Drouin and Ales Hemsky as well as help on defence in David Schlemko and Karl Alzner. He signed some depth players, including forward Peter Holland and defenceman Joe Morrow. He also inked Price to an eight-year deal worth $10.5 million per season that kicks in next season.

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