Amid extraordinary expectations for Alex Galchenyuk in his rookie season, the young American/Russian hasn't disappointed. He hasn't had a Calder level season like Brendan Gallagher, but his play has been much more impressive than most fans realize.
Over the first half of the season, he was broken in fairly gently, facing middling competition and easy zone starts. This allowed him to put up some very impressive possession numbers, although his relative Corsi was negative. I tend to value Fenwick more than Corsi though, and on that front he was above team average.
As you can see in the rolling averages, Galchenyuk was broken in very nicely with extremely offense heavy zone starts, and once he started to play way above team average, his role was changed to a slightly tougher one, put on Lars Eller's wing to take secondary tough competition after the Plekanec line.
During this period, Galchenyuk has managed to be continually impressive, putting up the 5th best scoring chance differential among forwards. He also had some excellent luck, getting the top on-ice shooting percentage of all Habs forwards, which resulted in some excellent production, the 4th best on the team. Even more impressive than his differential, Galchenyuk has produced more scoring chances per 60 minutes at even strength than any other Canadiens forward with 18.7/60.
What's really impressive though, is that Galchenyuk's shot production has been at a top six level.
On the powerplay, Galchenyuk has been even more impressive. While he's been given very little opportunity there, he's made the most of it in creating scoring chances. Galchenyuk's 37.4 scoring chances per 60 minutes on the powerplay is 3rd on the team amongst forwards, which tells me that he deserves a bit more time there.
One reason why Galchenyuk isn't quite as well appreciated as he should be is the complete lack of shooting luck he's had. He's not quite at rookie Max Pacioretty levels, but his 5.4% conversion rate is probably less than half of what we should expect from him going forward.
Galchenyuk is evaluated as a rookie 3rd line left winger. Half his season thus far has been spent as an exploitation forward, the second half in secondary toughs. His play has been phenomenal for this role, especially considering his age, but luck has worked against him in two ways. His high on-ice shooting percentage at even strength makes his production slightly less impressive, and his low personal shooting percentage makes his stat line look slightly less impressive than it should be. Still though, as an 18/19 year old rookie, Galchenyuk is way above average for a 3rd liner.
First half grade: 8/10