When is the last time the Montreal Canadiens could say that a rookie led the team in goalscoring? I didn't go through the Canadiens' entire history, but I can tell you that it hasn't happened since the 1967 expansion, and that Brendan Gallagher is the youngest player (at the age of 20) to lead the Canadiens in goal scoring in the modern era. The next youngest was Stephane Richer.
That should give a bit of context to how ridiculously impressive the Canadiens' 5th round pick in 2010 was this year.
But how did he score those goals? Let's break it down:
|Goals||Goals on zone plays||Goals off the rush||Goals on individual efforts|
This is the kind of split you would expect to see with Gallagher. His skating allows him to be more dangerous than Ryder is off the rush, but he's also a dominant player in the offensive zone. The split may have been more heavily geared towards zone plays if Gallagher got a bit more luck on the powerplay, where he scored just 4 goals.
Interestingly, Gallagher's 7 goals on individual efforts trend towards 12 over a full NHL season, which would have led the team in 2011-12 as well, with one more than Erik Cole.
When Gallagher began the year playing with Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Prust, he scored nearly exclusively off the rush, with 4/5 goals coming that way. When he was moved to play with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, 7 of his following 8 goals came on zone plays. This split is likely caused because of Pacioretty and Desharnais' talent in holding the puck in the offensive zone, whereas the rookie Galchenyuk at center was still adjusting at that point, so goal scoring was more off the rush instead of setting up and breaking down the opponents' systems.
When you look at Gallagher's shot breakdown, you see an extremely varied goal scorer who can kill you any way he chooses. As with most goal scorers, the largest portion of goals come from wrist and snap shots, as they are the quickest releases a player has, and the most accurate shots. But Gallagher's propensity for going to the net also puts him in great position for tips.
It seems to me that although Gallagher's biggest strength is his resiliency around the net and willingness to win battles against players much larger than himself, he is an extremely adaptable player. If he's on a line that scores off the rush, he will score there. If he's on a line that cycles the puck and scores on controlled plays in the offensive zone, he'll score there too.
Honestly the harder I look at Gallagher the more impressed I am by him.