USA TODAY Sports
When the Habs drafted Alex Galchenyuk, most people didn't even expect him to make the NHL this season, now he's making us wonder if he's even better than we thought.
Coming off of reconstructive knee surgery, Alex Galchenyuk was one of the riskiest picks in the entire 2013 draft. The young American/Russian played only 8 games in his draft year, but the results so far should teach everyone to trust in Trevor Timmins.
Galchenyuk tore the OHL to pieces with 27 goals and 61 points in 33 games before leaving Sarnia to take part in the World Junior Hockey championship for Team USA. Some fans expressed worry that going from junior to the AHL this year would be rushing him, but he's proved his doubters wrong.
Through 20 games Galchenyuk has 12 points, and looks every bit an NHLer, but how good is he?
The comparable that I've been using for Galchenyuk as the high water mark since he was drafted was Boston Bruins' forward Tyler Seguin. Seguin is a bonafide 1st line forward who can do it all and dominates possession. He also made the league at 18, used in a similar role to how Therrien has used Galchenyuk. We're only 20 games in, but how do the two rookie seasons compare? All statistics are at even strength.
|Alex Galchenyuk||Statistic||Tyler Seguin|
|10.49||Even strength time on ice per 60 minutes||10.73|
|0.267||Corsi relative quality of competition||-0.406|
|1.406||Corsi relative quality of teammates||-1.267|
|55.6||Fenwick close percentage||47.8|
|65.7||Fenwick tied percentage||46.9|
|12.37||On ice shooting percentage||6.13|
|94.0||On ice save percentage||94.5|
|59.1||Offensive zone start percentage||50.6|
|55.1||Offensive zone finish percentage||49.9|
|0.6||Penalties taken per 60 minutes||0.7|
|0.3||Penalties drawn per 60 minutes||0.7|
|25||Even strength shots||120|
|39||Even strength Corsi events||187|
|7.15||Even strength shots per 60 minutes||9.07|
|11.15||Even strength Corsi events per 60 minutes||14.13|
|3.43||Team goals for per 60 minutes on the ice||1.89|
|1.43||Team goals against per 60 minutes on the ice||1.89|
|0.86||Goals per 60 minutes||0.76|
|2||First assists per 60 minutes||0.6|
|0||Second assists per 60 minutes||0.08|
|3.43||Points per 60 minutes||1.44|
We're comparing a 20 game sample to a 74 game sample, so there are a few things that look a little odd, and a couple different factors to consider. The main thing is that Seguin's numbers represent the growth of a full NHL season, while Galchenyuk's don't. The only place you really see that though, is in shot numbers.
Galchenyuk wasn't getting shots early, but now he's getting them much more often. His shot rates should climb throughout the year. That said, let's get to the analysis.
Galchenyuk is being sheltered zonally more than Seguin was, but he's taking tougher competition in terms of opponents. This is clearly a differing coaching strategy between Julien and Therrien, but neither one is 'wrong' per se. Both were broken into the league gently.
Both players received extraordinary goaltending, yet in spite of Seguin getting slightly better save percentages behind him Galchenyuk has been on for fewer goals against per 60 minutes, meaning that while he's on the ice, fewer shots are being put on Carey Price and Peter Budaj.
Seguin was extremely unlucky in his rookie year from an on ice shooting standpoint, and he played with some talented players. His most common linemates were Michael Ryder (who hilariously is now playing with Galchenyuk), Blake Wheeler, and Mark Recchi, who are all talented guys, so it's odd that he didn't produce much.
Galchenyuk on the other hand, has been getting some great luck, which is a big reason why he's producing so much, although not the only reason. That's because the main reason he's producing so well is...
Possession. Seguin wasn't a disaster from a possession standpoint as a rookie, but Galchenyuk has been dominant for a rookie. The most interesting sign for Galchenyuk is that the more important the situation, the better his possession becomes. Contrasting to Seguin, who's possession was at it's worst while the score was tied.
From looking at the data we have available, it seems like in spite of knee surgery costing nearly an entire year of his development, Galchenyuk is ahead of Seguin's development curve. Does this mean that Galchenyuk is going to explode into a 30 goal and 60+ point player next season? It's tough to say, because players don't all progress at the same rate, but it certainly looks like it's possible.
The results that Galchenyuk has shown so far as a rookie vindicate those who advocated he play this year in the NHL. The fact is that he has already had his adjustment period and managed it smoothly, which could provide the jump off point for a monster sophomore campaign.
Galchenyuk is the real deal.