Habs Top 25 Under 25: #14 Brendan Gallagher


There isn't a forward prospect in Montreal's system that has a more impressive stat-line than Brendan Gallagher.  41 goals in 72 games as a 17 year old, 44 in 66 when he was 18, Gallagher's offensive productions dwarfs players like Bournival and Leblanc. In fact, he has put up the best junior numbers for his age since Guillaume Latendresse, with his 18 year season eclipsing that of Sergei Kostitsyn. What is even more notable is how he did this on a relatively weak Vancouver Giants squad although he did form a strong duo with Bruins overage prospect Craig Cunningham. However, Gallagher's continued strong production in Cunningham's absence after he was dealt to the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks seems to demonstrate that Gallagher was driving his own bus and not a passenger. Not bad for 147th overall in 2010.

His junior scoring prowess has not gone unnoticed either. He was a late cut to the 2011 Team Canda WJHC team last year and has been considered a good bet to make the team this winter, especially since he plays for the team's coach Don Hay. Just making the cut for Team Canada is a very encouraging sign for a prospect. When I looked at previous team Canada rosters I found that about 69% of them from the 1999-2008 period went on to be full time NHL players, which is about as good of an indication there is for 18-19 year old players.

With his offensive talent so obvious the main question mark about Gallagher is whether a 5'9" forward can translate his scoring ability to higher leagues. A 5'9" scorer with outstanding junior numbers brings back uncomfortable memories in Hab-land to OHL and AHL superstar Corey Locke, who has dominated offensively in every league but the one that counts to an NHL organization. Whether Gallagher's career can be more like, for example, Tyler Ennis, than Locke will be the main uncertainty until Gallagher either bust or establishes himself as an NHL player. 

Gallagher_14_medium

Gallagher's numbers are the biggest argument in his favour and they are some of the best any Habs prospect has had since the lockout. Using Gabe Desjardins' NHL equivalencies we can get a rough idea of how it stacks up to other recent Habs forward prospects.

17 Year Old (pre-draft) Season

GPG

PPG

NHLE Goals

NHLE Points

Gallagher

0.59

1.16

14.54

28.51

Latendresse

0.49

1.24

11.25

28.47

Palushaj

0.44

1.22

9.68

26.98

Pacioretty

0.37

1.09

8.26

24.12

Leblanc

0.48

0.98

10.54

21.79

Desharnais

0.30

0.70

7.55

17.33

NHLE used .27 USHL, 0.28 QMJHL, 0.30 OHL/WHL, .41 NCAA.

Here we can see Gallagher comes out ahead of everyone in goals and his in a statistical tie with Latendresse for the top in points, quite a feat for a 5th round pick.

 

18 Year Old (post-draft) Season

GPG

PPG

NHLE Goals

NHLE Points

Latendresse

0.82

1.57

18.83

36.05

Pacioretty

0.41

1.05

13.63

35.44

S. Kostitsyn

0.48

1.40

11.80

34.44

Palushaj

0.23

1.02

7.82

34.40

Gallagher

0.66

1.33

16.17

32.68

Desharnais

0.44

1.32

10.71

32.41

Leblanc

0.35

0.74

13.01

24.94

NHLE used .27 USHL, 0.28 QMJHL, 0.30 OHL/WHL, .41 NCAA.

Gallagher falters a bit here but remains close to the pack in points and comes a solid second in goals. As these are players seen as current or future top nine and potential top six forwards it looks like Gallagher's numbers track towards a solid future.

Gallagher also does quite well in comparison to his draft class. Despite being the 90th forward taken, Gallagher comes in at 20th in NHLE adjusted scoring last season as tracked by Scott Reynolds at Copper and Blue, ahead of fellow WHLers and high first round picks Nino Niedereiter and Brett Connolly

 

But what has been the recent fate of sub 5'10" WHL forwards that play for team Canada at the WJC, as Gallagher has a good chance of being? Gallagher's peers here jump out immediately Tyler Ennis and Nigel Dawes

17 Year Old (pre-draft) Season

GPG

PPG

NHLE Goals

NHLE Points

Ennis

0.57

1.27

14.02

31.24

Dawes

0.61

1.25

15.01

30.75

Gallagher

0.59

1.16

14.54

28.51

18 Year Old (post-draft) Season

GPG

PPG

NHLE Goals

NHLE Points

Ennis

0.71

1.44

17.47

35.42

Gallagher

0.66

1.33

16.17

32.68

Dawes

0.80

1.22

19.68

30.01

Both produced similar numbers to Gallagher in the 'dub and share his height deficiencies. Ennis's numbers are slightly stronger but he was also the the eldest during these seasons and eligible for only one post draft junior season. So his "17 year old" numbers could be fairly used against Dawes and Gallagher's post draft year, in which case Gallagher is the best.

One had a strong rookie year in Buffalo and looks to a productive NHL career. The other dominates the AHL but can't keep himself on an NHL lineup. Every Montreal fan will hope Brendan has more of Tyler and less of Nigel in him going forward.

 

Chris Boucher of Boucher Scouting has been looking into Gallagher of late, one of his scouting reports can be read here.  The money quote for me was

"He was easily one of the hardest working, and puck-hungry players on the ice during the two development camp games. He won numerous puck-battles through perseverance alone, but had the tendency to try to beat too many players 1-on-1 in the offensive-zone. Although his speed is often written of as below-average, Gallagher won multiple races to loose-pucks during the game."

 

Strengths:

Is very agile on his skates and uses this to frequently escape from defenders and create high quality scoring chances near the net.  This is enhanced by a combination of very strong puck control skills including very good stick-handling which help him carry the puck close and excellent hands which facilitate scoring from in close. Owns a solid shot which also compliments his goal scoring abilities. Is both confrontational and physically fearless in a way that is reminiscent of Bruin's rookie Brad Marchand or Brian Gionta. He is also solidly built for his size and stronger than he looks.

 

Weaknesses:

As brave as he may be, he is still a 5'09" player that plays a big man's game. Gionta and Fleury have managed to do that in the NHL but those players tend to be the exception. Whether he'd be able to play his style of game against NHL defensemen is a big question mark. He also doesn't seem to have the exceptional speed (Gionta), shot (Mike Cammalleri) or hockey sense (David Desharnais) that would carry him as a small forward to the NHL.

 

Future Analysis:

For the next season Gallagher looks to return for his final year of junior with a mind to dominate the WHL. He should have no trouble being one of the West's leading scorers and could even contend for the scoring title. He also looks to make the Canadian World Junior squad and hopes to impress this Christmas.

After junior he should be in Hamilton for the next 2-3 years to refine his game before challenging for a NHL job. Long term I would not be surprised if he became a top nine or even top six RW but would also be unsurprised if he fails to make it past the AHL level.

 

#15 - Andreas Engqvist # 14 - Brendan Gallagher  ???
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